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Beyond the Bale : March 2016
OFF FARM 19 The Wool Lab Sport provides a guide to the world’s best wool fabrics and yarns for activewear. MANUFACTURERS REPORT INCREASE IN DEMAND Key manufacturing partners at ISPO reported an increase in demand for wool, saying that brands new to the wool industry are also showing an increasing interest in wool. “There has been a very significant amount of interest in fine wool,” said Jo Dawson of one of the world’s leading international wool suppliers, H. Dawson Wool. “I think Merino wool continues to grow as a category in the sporting and active outdoor area. Many brands that had been considering other avenues are ensuring that they put Merino into their collections. “There is growth in wool usage in all areas, including the garment insulation area that we are working on, because of the fibre’s performance attributes. It is pleasing to note that the market is starting to understand the benefits of wool to outdoor consumers.” USA-based textile manufacturer Global Merino has recently introduced a group of lightweight laminates, starting at 175g/m2 , catering to high aerobic athletic categories such as running. And as the use of wool in activewear continues to evolve, brands that have traditionally worked with synthetics are starting to turn to wool, blending it with other performance fibres to produce lightweight apparel. “In the past few years we’ve been able to do things with a fabric’s construction and In response to industry demand and to complement the success of The Wool Lab – AWI’s seasonal sourcing guide to the world’s best commercially available wool fabrics and yarns – AWI has unveiled a new guide completely dedicated to sport, emphasising wool’s unique technical performance benefits for this market. Exhibited at the world’s most important trade shows, including ISPO, The Wool Lab Sport helps designers source performance fabrics and yarns from the top manufacturers across the world. Extensive research has been undertaken by AWI’s global network to develop two themes dedicated entirely to sportswear, suitable for all seasons. Both themes feature a mix of 100 per cent pure wool fabrics along with blends with other technical fibres. SPORT ACTIVE The Sport Active theme presents the most technically performing wool fabrics and yarns which ensure the best results during physical activity. Fabrics for this theme highlight technology enriched with the most innovative finishing and treatments, suitable to match every climate and discipline, both indoors and outdoors. SPORT STYLISH The Sport Stylish theme expresses the role of Merino wool as a fundamental element to the classic wardrobe of the most refined and exclusive sports such as golf, horse riding, sailing and polo. This theme perfectly combines performance with elegance, highlighting the natural benefits and technical features guaranteed by the fibre mixed with comfort and style. AWI UNVEILS THE WOOL LAB SPORT There is a growing 'athleisure' market. Pictured is an image from the HBFIT blog (www.hbfit.com) post: 'Everyday luxury with Merino wool activewear'. blend – to achieve fabrics optimally suited for runners,” says Global Merino President Jose Fernandez. “I think the category will continue to evolve. If we find new and different ways to use wool as a technology, we’ll be able to expand markets and find new applications.” NEW TRENDS FOR MERINO WOOL Merino wool has the ability to combine comfort and flexibility with casual elegance, which makes it well placed to cater to the growing market for ‘athleisure’ – a term used for activewear that can be used for non-active and casual, everyday use – with a modern, comfy and stylish look. A greater emphasis is being placed on Merino wool to make further inroads into this athleisure market – a market that The Merino Company CEO Andy Wynne refers to as ‘recreational apparel’. “People want to wear performance-looking Merino wool product to a barbecue or out for a coffee, but not necessarily run or exercise in it,” Mr Wynne says. “There’s a really exciting shift in consumer behaviour. We are also seeing a big difference in the summer markets. Historically we’d been mainly a winter producer, but we are seeing a shift in people in the cycling and running sectors – high -end performance wear areas – into Merino wool because of its natural characteristics and our ability to produce lighter weight fabrics.”
In the Shops - March 2016