The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 13 January 2016

Image: Lindsay Wilson

Raising the baa

The International Woolmark Prize, first staged in 1953, is testament to the enduring sartorial allure of wool – and it’s growing. In 2015 the prize, which celebrates clothes knitted from Australian merino wool, added a menswear category; the winner of the 2015/2016 gong will be announced today as one of the main yarns at Pitti Uomo. According to Stuart McCullough, managing director of the Australia-based Woolmark Company, the menswear category was launched “on the back of terrific success with the womenswear award and an overwhelming demand from the industry”. The prize has a notably international flavour: the menswear final features six regional finalists, including London-based Agi & Sam, Indian designer Suketdhir and Australian tailor P. Johnson. The diversity of the woollen designs – which span suits, streetwear and high fashion garments – speaks to the current global interest in “tailored apparel, ‘casualisation’ and ‘athleisure’, which are fuelling fantastic demand for our raw fibre back in Australia,” says McCullough. Watch out for more coverage from Pitti Uomo this week on the Monocle Minute.

Image: Getty Images

Need a ride?

From ultra-high resolution screens to the cars themselves, technology has been a constant at the 2016 edition of the North American International Auto Show. While engine performance and sleek design are still vital, manufacturers are now competing in the move towards autonomous driving, from the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class world premiere on Monday to the Cadillac CT6, via the Volvo S90. The focus on future mobility extends to General Motors, which announced a $500m (€461m) investment in car-share service Lyft last week. Its aim? Spread GM’s influence in the market with a plan to produce driverless vehicle-shares in the future. GM’s Vijay Iyer told us that the company has a small team of 30 people working on its own vehicle-sharing venture as well. We can expect more news in the coming weeks.

Image: Getty Images

Great expectations

Europe’s internal borders are becoming ever tighter. Germany, which accepted more than a million refugees in 2015, has begun sending approximately 200 a day back to Austria. The government in Vienna is, in turn, tightening its borders with Slovenia. And on it goes. The flow of refugees into Europe – and the failure of the EU to share those refugees fairly across the union – has placed one of its greatest assets under threat: Schengen, the agreement to allow border-free travel throughout the continent. Schengen was born in the mid-1980s after German and French politicians recognised that long queues for lorries at border crossings was affecting trade; it has grown to become one of the EU’s biggest selling points. For how much longer depends on whether a new generation of politicians can find a solution. Tune in on Saturday to hear this week’s edition of The Foreign Desk, which will cover this issue in more depth.

Image: Getty Images

Best medicine

At a time when Hong Kong is in need of a good laugh, TVMost, a satirical digital channel founded by three former radio hosts, is providing some pointed comic relief. This week the channel hosted a mock awards ceremony at Queen Elizabeth Stadium before an audience of 3,000. The event, which was broadcast live through a partnership with commercial channel Now TV, was a send-up of film and music award ceremonies with an added political slant; singers performed parody songs with political lyrics about social issues and injustice. The ceremony was a success: clips from the show garnered hundreds of thousands views online, a comparable viewing rate to the city’s conventional channels. Though Hong Kong is still rattled by the disappearance of booksellers selling works critical of China, it’s reassuring to see so many still revelling in political and social satire.

From Monocle 24

London Collections Men

In our report from London Collections Men, Monocle's Jamie Waters talks to editor in chief of British GQ and chairman of London Collections Men, Dylan Jones.

From Monocle Films

Handmade animators

With the success of Pixar came an avalanche of computer-generated animation but not all animators are following the hi-tech pack. Monocle Films travels to the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and southern England in search of storytellers who embrace digital diversification.

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