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Beyond the Bale : September 2014
22 OFF FARM In an effort to grow demand for Merino wool, AWI has collaborated on developing an innovative new apparel wadding made from wool, marketed as Lavalan. Rather than being worn close to the skin as with most Merino wool apparel, Lavalan was designed as a natural, environmentally friendly alternative to the synthetic wadding normally used inside quilted garments. Made using 85 per cent Merino wool, Lavalan is already being adopted by high-profile sporting manufacturers and fashion houses for use inside jackets, vests, gloves and pants. The textile is washable to 60°C and dimensionally stable to help avoid shrinkage and retain its shape when washed. As awareness of Lavalan grows, it is becoming apparent to manufacturers that using the world’s finest wool inside a garment ultimately provides greater performance attributes than synthetics. Lavalan is also well-placed to take advantage of increasing demand for more earth-friendly alternatives to traditional synthetic fillings. Working with Belgian textile processor N.V. Van Riel and German manufacturer Baur Vliesstoffe, Lavalan’s inception began in 2006 during the development of Feltstop, a material created for use in mattresses and bedding. The light weight of the finished Feltstop textile was such that it encouraged the exploration of other uses for the technique, specifically in the apparel category. “Our company has engineered and provided the technology of making wool washable at 60°C on loose fibres,” explained N.V. Van Riel co-owner Dider Van Riel. “This unique process, in combination with the technology provided by Baur, makes Lavalan a successful product. “It was necessary to find a way to process and blend wool in a way to be able to produce a down-like wadding that was light, stable and strong enough to be used as the inner layer for active sportswear, without compromising the natural properties and benefits of wool.” Lavalan is particularly relevant for performance-type garments and the timing of its launch could not be more appropriate, with the growth in the sports apparel market set to continue in coming years. AWI’s Sports and Outdoor program aims to position Merino wool as an established technical and high-performance fibre for sports/active apparel and to achieve a perception of Merino wool as being a technical, modern, comfortable and ‘young’ fibre. “As said many times before Van Riel has found a strong commercial partner in AWI and paying the annual Woolmark licence fee has become an act of investing in commercial power,” said Mr Van Riel. “As a rather small family owned company, for us it is simply impossible to come up with all the work and efforts that AWI supports us with. The best possible example for this is the fact that two Woolmark licensees – Van Riel and Baur – who did not know about each other’s existence and productions, were brought together by the German branch of AWI. Ever since the first meeting, AWI has shown strong interest in the mutual technology of both partners, and today we still feel the positive influence of the support given.” Growth in sales is expected to be very healthy in the early stages of Lavalan’s entry into the market. Initial sales estimates project that several hundred thousand metres of Lavalan will go to market in 2014, with exponential sales increases expected to be seen in the 2015 calendar year during the textile’s growth phase. • Leading sportswear brands are adopting wool as an alternative to synthetic wadding in quilted garments. • Co-developed by AWI, Lavalan is a wool wadding owned by German manufacturer Baur Vliesstoffe that uses 85 per cent Australian Merino wool. • Using technology originally developed for the manufacturer of bedding products, Lavalan is ideal for use in the growing market of sports/outdoor apparel. AN ALTERNATIVE TO SYNTHETICS WOOL WADDING It might not look like wool, but these jackets produced by German outdoor apparel brand triple2 contain wadding made from 85 per cent Merino wool.