Welcome to News Bites, BoF's regular feature of the stories that get the industry talking.Rupert Sanderson is launching R. Sanderson, a “super premium” sister brand in Asia.Sanderson is a minority shareholder in the new venture and will act as chief creative officer with final creative sign-off. His Hong Kong-based franchise partner, Bertrand Mak, is a majority shareholder and will act the brand’s chief executive.The four existing Rupert Sanderson stores in Hong Kong, along with a store in IFC mall Shanghai and a new retail site opening in Taipei today, have all been branded or refitted as R. Sanderson stores. The partners will open an additional store in Beijing early next year, and plan to open two stores per year using revenues generated by the business, which currently stand at approximately £12.5 million ($16 million). The new brand will only be available through own stores and an e-commerce site launching in two weeks.VJVWIVJXZRAWTFJE7EXK7F3KOE The R. Sanderson 24-carat gold heel (left) and gold pebble design (right) | Source: CourtesyThe partners decided to launch the new brand 18 months ago — at the five-year break clause of their franchise agreement — due to the traction Sanderson’s 24-carat gold heel and gold pebble designs had in the Asian market. “To [Mak’s] huge credit, he set up stores in very good locations, focusing more and more on this expression of the gold heel and the gold pebble in the merchandising process. Like any franchise, the partner responds to demand and is buying into things that are working, which altered the consumer’s perception of the brand in Asia,” Sanderson told BoF.Having established the pebble shape, Mak expanded the range to include japanning, lacquering, diamond dust and numerous other premium iterations. “There is an appetite and an acute cultural understanding of craftsmanship in Asia. We are speaking to that core group of conservative, elegant women,” Sanderson added. R. Sanderson shoes will retail between £650 to £2,000 for non-exotic styles.The Rupert Sanderson label, which was founded in 2001, will continue, with both brands' seasonal collections designed at Sanderson's London atelier. —Robin Mellery-PrattThe International Woolmark Prize announces new Innovation Award and 2017/18 Nominees.BoF can exclusively reveal the 65 nominees for the International Woolmark Prize 2017/18. This year, each nominee will receive AU $2,000 (approximately $1,500) to assist in the development of their submissions for the regional finals, which will be held throughout July in Dubai, London, Milan, New York, Seoul and Sydney. The regional winners who go on to compete for the international prize will be awarded a further AU $70,000 towards the production of their final collection.Additionally, a newly introduced "Innovation Award" will grant AU $100,000 for the most creative fabric or yarn development from a finalist, and the textile mill responsible for its production will be promoted via The Woolmark Company's global trade promotional programme."Due to increasing pressures on young designers, we have restructured our programme spend with a greater focus on the design talent and our partners," said The Woolmark Company's managing director, Stuart McCullough. Prize money for the two eventual winners has also increased, with the global menswear and womenswear winner each receiving AU $200,000. — Robin Mellery-PrattNominees For the 2017/18 International Woolmark PrizeAsiaMenswear: Bmuet(te) (South Korea), Pronounce (Greater China), Roggkey (Japan), SixLee (Greater China), Staffonly (Greater China).Womenswear: KYE (South Korea), Peggy Hartanto (Indonesia) Shushu/Tong (Greater China), Yuima Nakazato (Japan).Australia & New ZealandMenswear: Amxander (Australia), Chris Ran Lin (Australia), Blairarchibald (Australia).Womenswear: Elissa McGowan (Australia), Harman Grubiša (New Zealand), Thomas Puttick (Australia)British IslesMenswear: Liam Hodges, Matthew Miller, Phoebe English ManWomenswear: Helen Lawrence, Le Kilt, Roberts|Wood, Sadie WilliamsEuropeMenswear: Arte Antwerp (Belgium), Miro Sabo (Czech Republic), 22/4 (Germany), Miaoran (Italy), Jazz Kuipers (Netherlands), Neo design (Serbia), Palomo Spain (Spain), L'homme Rouge (Sweden), Miin (Turkey)Womenswear: Wim Bruynooghe (Belgium), Tereza Rosalie Kladošová (Czech Republic) Mark Kenly Domino Tan (Denmark), Vladimir Karaleev (Germany), Brognano (Italy), David Laport (Netherlands), Aika Alemi (Kazakhstan), Moisés Nieto (Spain), Bashaques' (Turkey).Indian Subcontinent and Middle EastMenswear: Antar-Agni (India), Dhruv Kapoor (India), Theorem (India), Varoin Marwah (Dubai), Ziggi (Pakistan)Womenswear: Bodice (India), Hemang Agrawal (India), Matar (Bahrain), Khadija Rehman (Pakistan) Nour Najem (Lebanon), Timi Hayek (Lebanon), Péro (India), Zonia Anwaar (Pakistan)USAMenswear: Death To Tennis, Dyne, Kenneth Ning, N-p-Elliot, Palmiers du MalWomenswear: Andrea Jiapei Li, Claudia Li, PH5, Protagonist, Zaid AffasDo you have a story for News Bites? 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