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Beyond the Bale : March 2015
OFF FARM 21 MERINO RETRACT INNOVATION Merino Retract has contemporary boiled wool looks, but has the resilience and pilling performance of normal wool. Boiled wool is popular because it gives a casual look to garments and an alternative texture. INNOVATIONS • As well as developing the innovative technology, AWI works with supply chain partners to help transfer the technology to apparel brands. • Some of the world’s major brands have used these innovations to produce garments that are now commercially available to consumers. In the past, wool has generally been associated with classic, tailored apparel such as finely woven suits. Yet in recent years the world has experienced an increasing trend towards more casual attire – both in formal and informal situations. Cotton has greatly benefitted from this drift towards casualisation, yet the wool industry has risen to meet this challenge, producing premium apparel to ensure it stays on trend. AWI’s technical teams have developed processes which give similar textural and visual effects as other casual clothing, yet further enhance the natural benefits of Merino wool. In the past AWI has funded research into overcoming faults in fabric caused by the manufacturing process, yet ironically these faults, which provide a ‘casual look’, are now being embraced and turned into a fashion trend. “We introduced ‘controlled faults’ which are unique to wool,” says AWI General Manager for Product Development and Commercialisation Jimmy Jackson. “Now, AWI is transferring the technologies, such as felting shrinkage in Merino Retract and unlevel dyeing in Vintage Merino, to manufacturers who supply to major brands such as Armani Jeans, GAP and Hugo boss, with the apparel now available at a retail level.” Stonewash denim, which became popular in the 1980s, has enjoyed a revival of late, as denim – in particular the humble jean – has become more and more acceptable in everyday life. A recent innovation called Lantique, initially developed for flat knits, uses yarns from Woolmark licensee Xinao to produce a range of circular knitted Merino ‘denim’ fabrics. The resulting garments have been acid washed, just like cotton denims, to create a new type of denim with the comfort of wool and a relaxed, casual aesthetic. Likewise, Merino Retract technology offers a boiled wool look and feel and has the resilience of normal wool. Boiled wool is popular for urban wear because it gives a casual look to garments and an alternative texture, like felt – yet it suffers from stiffness, pilling and is limited to hand wash or dry-clean only care claims. However, the new innovation ‘Merino Retract’ allows for tighter fitting, fully fashioned comfortable garments, for both knitwear and wovenwear, with a machine washable option possible. “As AWI looks to the future, it is looking to capitalise on the growing trend towards casualisation, which the Merino wool fibre is well-placed to address,” says Mr Jackson. MORE INFORMATION www.woolmark.com/innovations VINTAGE MERINO INNOVATION Faded and washed out effects are popular in casual garments. This can be achieved through garment dyeing and works for both worsted-spun and woollen-spun piece-dyed garments. Each garment is unique within a defined range. AWI’s product development program is helping Merino wool take advantage of the global trend towards casual-style dressing. KEEP WOOL IN LINE WITH CASUAL TRENDS