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Beyond the Bale : March 2015
OFF FARM 19 VIE ACTIVE'S PUSH INTO VENICE BEACH Australian activewear brand Vie Active – which predominantly uses Australian Merino wool in its apparel – opened its first store in the USA in November, just four months after the company started operating a warehouse in Los Angeles to manage distribution for orders made through the USA version of its web store. The new store, located close to Venice Beach in Los Angeles, was originally intended to only operate until February 2015, but the response from consumers has been so positive that Vie Active has decided to make it a permanent fixture. “We chose Los Angeles because it is at the forefront of the health and wellness industry; and Venice is kind of the big sister of Bondi, which is where the company is based in Australia,” said co-owner Noa Ries, who started the company in 2012 with her husband Bryan. “The store is designed to make each of our customers experience a little bit of Bondi Beach in Venice. “By originally opening the store as a temporary pop-up store, we were testing the response to the brand, but the market response has been phenomenal so we will be staying there permanently. As well as a place to buy stylish work-out gear, we also host free yoga and sweat sessions at local studios. We plan to open a store in Australia this year along with another in Los Angeles.” Noa says Vie Active uses Australian Merino wool to fuse fitness with fashion for the modern woman: “The company creates activewear that is not only high performance but also captures the fun and freedom of a lifestyle by the beach, and doesn’t compromise on style.” MORE INFORMATION www.vieactivewear.com www.merino.com/Lifestyle/vie-active/ Co-owner Noa Ries of Australian women’s brand Vie Active in the company’s new store on Abbott Kinney Boulevard in Venice, California. AUSSIE COMPANIES ENTER With economic indicators in the USA as positive as they have been for a number of years, the moment has been right for Australian companies selling Merino wool apparel to move into this potentially lucrative market. US MARKET WOOLERINA’S ONLINE VENTURE INTO THE USA Woolerina is a brand that will be familiar with many woolgrowers across Australia. The company, established in 2006 and based at Forbes in NSW, produces 100 per cent Australian Merino apparel for men, women, children and babies. The Woolerina range is available online at woolerina.com.au and also in retail shops throughout regional Australia. Towards the end of last year the company started marketing several items from its latest collection – Merino women’s tops, leggings, and scarves – in the USA and sales were so good that stocks were sold out within a couple of months of the launch. Woolerina worked with a company called ExportX that has e-commerce expertise and automated systems to bypass conventional distribution, harnessing the power of the world’s biggest online marketplaces. The Woolerina garments were available for purchase online for delivery throughout the USA on Amazon.com and importer-direct webstore ShoppingMoa.com. “We treated the initiative as a test to see how sales would go and, while I was initially a bit skeptical, we are delighted by the results,” Woolerina managing director Warwick Rolfe said. “We will be marketing a much larger range when we launch a winter collection there in August/September this year. “I have made three trips to the USA and the feedback is that the styles, colours and weight of Woolerina products are right for the market, including our 230gsm mid-weights and especially the 420gsm women’s jackets. “What particularly strikes me about the USA market is how large it is. Although there are some companies already selling Merino apparel there, I think there is a lot of potential in the USA. Merino, as opposed to other wools, is regarded as an innovative fibre there.” MORE INFORMATION www.woolerina.com.au Woolerina’s 100 per cent Australian Merino apparel is available online at woolerina.com