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Beyond the Bale : September 2015
OFF FARM 21 FLINDERS MERINO INVESTS IN EMERGING FASHION DESIGNERS For the past seven years a group of South Australian woolgrowers, known as Flinders Merino, has sponsored a scholarship award at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University's (HKPU) Institute of Textiles and Clothing (ITC). The Australia Study Tour Scholarship award aims to nurture the use of Australian wool within the collections of the university's fashion students, encouraging them to continue to use wool in their designs as they continue with their career after graduating. AWI also sponsors an award, the Best Use of Australian Merino, at the HKPU ITC. The winners of both awards have been invited to Australia to learn more about wool fibre and the Merino wool supply chain, including a visit to the Flinders Merino wool-growing properties. Representing Flinders Merino, woolgrowers Reuben Solly, his sister Amey and wife Stefanie travelled to Hong Kong in June to present the award and learn more about the wool industry in the region. As one of the world's major knitwear exporters, Hong Kong is the gateway for southern and eastern Chinese wool processors and manufacturers, as well as a global hub for sourcing wool garments for major international brands. Raising the awareness of Australian wool's benefits amongst the younger generation of design talent in the region is a key activity of AWI's Hong Kong office, which has also built a strong relationship with HKPU. Fifth generation woolgrowers on 'Yednalue Station' near Carrieton, Reuben and Amey work hard to develop family traditions into modern practice. Following in the footsteps of their father Darren, who was a founding member of Flinders Merino in 2000, the pair have also become active in promoting Australian Merino wool in Hong Kong. "It is crucial to invest in today's generation and provide education about the benefits of using natural fibres such as wool, which are renewable and ecologically friendly," Reuben and Amey said after the visit to Hong Kong. "Wool is one of the unique fibres that will not only sustain the planet but will also provide advances in fashion technology, whilst providing a future for our wool-growing industry. "We noticed a lot of new techniques especially in knitwear, and wool is now being used in the students' accessories as well. The students put a lot of time and effort into their garments to get every little detail perfect and it's so great to see the younger generation incorporating wool into their garments. " For Amey and Stefanie, this visit was their first to Hong Kong, with AWI's Hong Kong team providing support to the group and showcasing to them what happens to wool once it leaves the farm gate. AWI Technical Manager Brenda Yang highlighted some new projects and techniques currently in development and AWI also arranged for the group to visit Novetex -- one of China's biggest spinners. "Novetex told us about their joint ventures with Gostwyck Merino and we learned about their new joint venture KPC Yarn Studio, where they hold workshops for those interested in spinning, weaving or knitting their own yarn. "We were also fortunate enough to have the opportunity to visit the Hong Kong Design Institute (HKDI) University and got to see all the hard work and effort put into all the garments that are made and the many machines and equipment involved in the process. The facilities at the HKDI are all very modern and produce modern wool and fashion design. It was wonderful to know that these students have such outstanding resources to maximise their studies." FAST FACTS • The Flinders Merino wool-growing group and AWI continue to foster the education of emerging designers by sponsoring fashion design awards in the textile hotspot Hong Kong. • A group from Flinders Merino travelled to Hong Kong to present their award and to experience the wool processing pipeline. • AWI promotes the benefits of Australian Merino wool to the next generation in a region crucial to global textiles and fashion. South Australian woolgrowers Amey and Reuben Solly presenting the Australian Study Tour Scholarship award to this year's scholarship award winner Jan Kwok. PHOTO: ITC, HKPU Reuben Solly with his father Darren at home in South Australia showing the finer points of shearing to a previous year's scholarship award winner from Hong Kong.