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Inaugural adidas x Woolmark Performance Challenge winner announced

Alicia Ferreira de Sousa from L’École de la Maille de Paris has been announced as the winner of the inaugural adidas x Woolmark Performance Challenge. The award was presented at a special event during Outdoor Retailer in Denver, Colorado.

The Woolmark Performance Challenge is a new annual competition for tertiary students aimed at pushing the limits of product innovation and is set to kick-start the career of Alicia.

The award was judged by a panel of judges, including Amanda Parkes, Chief Innovation Officer, Fashion Tech Lab; Christopher Bevans – Creative Director & Owner, Dyne; Jamie Lisanti – Special Projects Editor, Sports Illustrated; Julie Davies – General Manager, Processing Innovation & Education Extension, The Woolmark Company; Kristin Hostetter – Editor in Chief, SNEWS; Louis de Vos – Talent Acquisition Manager, adidas; and TillmannStudrucker – Senior Design Director, adidas.

“As an aerobic gymnast, Alicia brought her knowledge of the body’s movement and combined it with science to highlight the functionality and benefits of Australian Merino wool’s properties,” explained Jamie Lisanti, Sports Illustrated. “She found a way to bring this together with a unique and technical innovation, that is applicable to many sports.”

Fellow judge Tillmann Studrucker commented, “It is incredible how many great innovations we saw from students in this open collaboration between adidas and The Woolmark Company. It was not easy to nominate the final winner. In the end, we went for the person who shared the number one principle of our founder Adi Dassler – ‘only the best for the athlete’ – helping them to perform better in their sport using the benefits of wool.

“I want to thank everyone involved in making this competition a success and for giving these students a platform to show their talent.”

“Winning the Woolmark Performance Challenge marks the beginning of an aspiration coming true: a sportswear specialization to engage my own wellbeing and confidence in sports performance”, said Alicia Ferreira de Sousa. “My main goal was to make a textile that connects and communicates with the body; and Merino wool supports the wearer’s needs in any situation or environment to enhance performance.”

Alicia will now receive a cash prize of €10,000 (approximately US$11,300), a three-month internship with adidas, the opportunity to sell the winning idea along with ongoing industry and training support from The Woolmark Company.



More than 500 students from 58 universities across Europe and North America registered to take part in the adidas x Woolmark Performance Challenge. The 10 finalists were:

  • Alicia Ferreira de Sousa – L’École de la Maille de Paris – France
  • Christel Thue Høgsted – University of Oregon – USA
  • Inga Grether – Albstadt-Sigmaringen University – Germany
  • Jeni Allison – Heriot Watt University – UK
  • Lihong Lao – Cornell University, Department of Fiber Science & Apparel Design – USA
  • Marlies Reukers – Amsterdam Fashion Institute, HvA – Netherlands
  • Martin Stricker – ECAL (École Cantonale d’art de Lausanne) – Switzerland
  • Olivia Echols – University of Oregon – USA
  • Phoebe Edwards – Nottingham Trent University – UK
  • Youngmi Kim – Institut Français de la Mode – France

“The rapid growth in demand for technical textiles has significantly boosted wool’s prominence in the sportswear industry and the fibre’s naturally inherent qualities – such as effective odor control, superb breathability and moisture management properties – cannot be matched by any man-made fibre,” said The Woolmark Company Managing Director Stuart McCullough.

“The adidas x Woolmark Performance Challenge not only allows wool to enter a new phase in product development, but provides an excellent opportunity for Alicia, and I congratulate her on their exciting win.

“Registrations for the next edition of the competition are now open and we invite college students from across the world to apply.”




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