Have you ever wondered how the finalist garments are chosen each year? 

The World of WearableArt Awards runs a robust judging process that consists of three closed rounds of judging. This means that the judges are presented with the garment name, and the inspiration behind the work of art, however the designers’ details are not disclosed. 

The first round of judging is known as First Judging, and it is a milestone event in the WOW calendar; over three days all entries are dressed on models in full hair and makeup for assessment by the judging panel. All entries selected at First Judging will go on to appear in the WOW Awards Show. The 2019 First Judging took place at WOW HQ in Nelson over the weekend of 5 – 7 July and shortly after we announced the 2019 finalist designers.


2019 Judging Panel

This year’s judges include WOW Founder and resident judge, Dame Suzie Moncrieff, designer James Dobson of Jimmy D, and acclaimed multimedia artist Gregor Kregar

Read more about each of our invited judges on the 2019 judging panel below:


James Dobson

Auckland-based designer James Dobson began the label Jimmy D
in 2004, winning the prestigious Mercedes Start Up Award with
his first collection. Jimmy D’s signature look is dark, with a wry
sense of humour, combining deconstructed, androgynous,
over sized silhouettes with body conscious elements. 

Jimmy D has been featured in international publications such as
Japanese and Korean Vogue and Sportswear International where
Jimmy D was selected as one of ‘The eight most directional
collections today.’

I’m constantly trying to navigate this balance between art and fashion,
but when you’re a designer that has to keep at least one foot in the commercial
world it’s tricky – if I was to create a collection that had no commercial
constraints it would probably look very different – and this is the area
WOW entrants get to inhabit!

I talk a lot about fearless creativity, which in my world gets tempered with
commercial constraints, WOW entrants have no such limitations so in some
ways it’s the most purest form of fashion design.

Not everyone in fashion gets to be or CAN be this fearless.


What will you be looking for as a 2019 World of WearableArt judge?

I’ve been on both sides of the industry as a designer and buyer, and as a buyer I can think of specific moments where fashion has given me goosebumps or made me breath a little faster and remember why I’m part of this industry – this is what I’ll be looking for when I see garments for the first time. I’ll be looking for a very emotive first response, I need to have never seen it before, I need it to be more than just pretty, I need to look at it and know it’s story. All of the other considerations of make and fit will help get it over the line, but that very first impression is key.


Photography: Ken Cao
Styling: Kingkang Chen
Photography: Oliver Rose
Styling: Chris Lorimer
Photography: Ken Cao
Styling: Andrey Sukhomlinov


Gregor Kregar

A true multi-media artist, acclaimed sculptor Gregor Kregar
nurtures a diverse approach to his work. He has experimented with
clay and stainless steel, recycled wood and rubbish, video and
cardboard, he often takes a mundane subject, plays with scale,
repetition, and materials, and transforms it into something suddenly
worthy of closer inspection – such as a number of works based on the
humble, kitschy garden gnome. 
Born in Slovenia and with an MFA from Auckland’s Elam, this will be
Kregar’s third time judging the World of WearableArt Awards. He has
exhibited widely in New Zealand and internationally, and is a frequent
contributor to public art collections.

Fashion and art are connected and they influence each other,
I think that borders between them are blurred and they can
cross-pollinate. Practitioners from the world of art and 
fashion appear to be exploring one another’s territory more
than ever, artists are often involved in fashion labels and 
fashion designers are exhibiting in art galleries. 

I like the idea that art can be worn and be displayed in
everyday environment.


What will you be looking for as a 2019 World of WearableArt judge?

I think that garments have to display a certain level of originality and tell the story, but not in a literal or a laboured way. I look for aesthetical, emotional as well as a rational response to them. After the first reaction, I want to analyse the construction and choice of materials and all of these have to work in unison, creating a resolved unique work. 


Anthropocene Shelter, 2018, installation view, recycled timber, neon, mylar, stainless steel, Te Papa Tongarewa- Museum Of New Zealand, Wellington, New Zealand

The 2019 finalist garments will go through two more stages of the judging process, where they will be seen on stage with choreography, lighting and music ahead of opening night on September 26. And the judging panel will later be joined by fashion activist and celebrity stylist, B. Akerlund, Sir Richard Taylor, CEO and Creative Director of Weta Workshop and Cirque du Soleil’s Creative Intelligence Team Lead + Conceptrice, Melissa Thompson.


Tickets are still available to see the 2019 finalist garments come to life on stage in New Zealand’s single largest theatrical spectacular.

Book your tickets now