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Beyond the Bale : June 2018
A study trip to Australia for designers Ben Cottrell and Matt Dainty of COTTWEILER saw the International Woolmark Prize 2016/17 winners visit a wool-growing property to find out more about the source of Australian Merino wool. Aworld away from their homes in London, Ben and Matt recently came Down Under – via a visit to AWI’s Wool Resource Centre in Hong Kong – to see an Australian wool-growing property and get an in-depth understanding of Merino wool production. The design duo were hosted by the Picker family from Bigga in the Southern Tablelands of NSW – and cousins Sam, Ben and Cameron Picker gladly showed the designers around their family property ‘Hillcreston’ and the process of growing superfine Merino wool. They were shown the natural beauty of the property and the vastness of the surrounding landscape – quite different to what the designers are used to in London. Back at the shearing shed, Sam described for the designers what attributes the Pickers are looking for when selecting Merino sheep and explained how woolgrowers assess the quality of Merino wool. Matt and Ben said the trip was incredibly informative in providing them with an understanding of where and how Merino wool fibre is grown and its suitability for premium apparel. “This trip, from London to Hong Kong to Australia, was about educating ourselves about wool from the raw product right through to the fabric; it was about finding the source; and it’s been really inspiring to see the whole process,” Matt said. But the farm visit also had a very practical side to it for the designers. COTTWEILER will next month launch in London a new Merino base-layer collection, and the designers wanted to capture video footage of the Australian landscape and the Pickers working in their daily lives, to accompany the launch of the collection – showcasing, literally, the inspiring link of Merino wool fibre from farm to fashion. “Traditionally the brand has used a lot of technical synthetic fibres but since we won the International Woolmark Prize we have explored and educated ourselves more on wool and introduced technical wool fabrics into our collections.” Matt Dainty, Cottweiler designer “Although we are very excited about the popularity our brand has garnered around the world, we want to focus on the longevity of COTTWEILER and so for us, the inspiration for the collections and the production of the design is paramount,” Matt said. COTTWEILER’S INTERNATIONAL WOOLMARK PRIZE WIN COTTWEILER is well known for its clash of sportswear and streetwear with the use of highly technical material. For its winning 2016/17 International Woolmark Prize menswear collection, the design duo incorporated Merino wool into its clothing for the first time. The collection comprised sheer Merino wool base-layers, windproof mid-layers and quilted waterproof outerwear, with wool- blend fabrics ranging from 18.5 microns through to 19.5 microns, and recycled wool scraps used for insulation. The International Woolmark Prize is designed to generate long-term incremental demand for Australian Merino wool by increasing the knowledge of and lifetime loyalty to the fibre amongst the competition’s designers and alumni around the globe. This seems to certainly be the case with COTTWEILER. “Winning the International Woolmark Prize has made us expand our collections to incorporate a lot more wool. Traditionally the brand has used a lot of technical synthetic fibres but since we won the Prize we have explored and educated ourselves more on wool and introduced technical wool fabrics into our collections,” Matt said. Their 2016/17 International Woolmark Prize collection was stocked in retail stores across the world, including David Jones in Sydney and Harvey Nichols in London. Since winning the Prize, the brand has gone from strength to strength; over the past year COTTWEILER’s collections have been bought by more than sixty retailers across Asia and the Northern Hemisphere. Woolgrower Sam Picker explaining the production of superfine Australian Merino wool with 2016/17 International Woolmark Prize winners Ben Cottrell and Matt Dainty of COTTWEILER. From arguably the largest granite rock in the Southern Hemisphere, the Picker family showed Ben and Matt the view of the Bigga region. AUSTRALIAN VISIT INSPIRES WINNING DESIGNERS OFF FARM 23
In the Shops - September 2018