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Beyond the Bale : September November 2009
Fashion and wool: a natural fit KEY POINTS l Successful fashion designer Therese Rawsthorne, who was brought up on the land, loves using wool in her designs. l AWI has recently worked with Therese, helping her find Australian knitters using high quality Woomark-accredited yarns. l AWI has worked to develop long- standing relationships with the new generation of fashion designers because of their influence in setting fibre and innovation trends. For fashion designer Therese Rawsthorne the clothing industry and farming are not different. After all, designers and farmers work with their hands; both work to the seasons; and both hope for rain and sunshine at appropriate times. Therese grew up on her family's farm near Trundle, in Central West NSW, where they ran about 3000 sheep, so she knows a fair amount about farming as well as fashion. "The shearing shed on our property was a beautiful old shed -- the oldest in the district -- where many of the surrounding properties used to come to shear," Therese recalls. "My Dad finally sold the property about 12 months ago, but my brother is still at nearby Bruie Plains and my sister at Goonumbla -- both still farming." Now Therese is a successful fashion designer and her designs are in demand around the world. The past six months have been particularly good for Therese. Her show at this year's Rosemount Australian Fashion Week in April was widely praised, and in May she won the 'Breakthrough Designer of the Year 2009' award at the Madison Fashion, Style and Music Awards. Therese has also been a finalist in the L'Oréal Melbourne Fashion Festival Design Award presented by Woolmark for the past two years. She uses a lot of wool in her designs and rates wool's natural properties highly. "Wool is a truly authentic and innovative product. It is a relevant and desirable fibre that will continue to adapt to changing tastes and times," she says. "It's extremely important to me to use natural fibres, and I particularly love wool because it's such a chameleon, it can become so many different things. You can always tell the difference in the handle of a wool fabric -- the drape and feel on the skin is second to none. "Sustainability is such a concern now, and increasingly I believe it will become a legislative requirement for manufacturers in all industries. Wool is well placed to benefit from this and it's really important that the R&D and brand development the wool industry has always invested in continues." AWI has recently worked with Therese, helping her find Australian knitters using high-quality Woomark-accredited yarns. "It is a real value-add to be able to attach Woolmark accreditation to Young guns of Australian fashion embrace wool AWI has established relationships with an important group of emerging Australian fashion designers, ensuring they have access to the best quality Australian Merino wool fabrics and yarns available in the market. In July 2009 style bible Vogue Australia hailed these designers as the "young guns; rising stars of Australian Fashion". The designers include Therese Rawsthorne, Gefforey J Finch (of the label Antipodium), Kim Ellery (Ellery), Gary Bigeni, Ben Pollitt (Friedrich Gray), Konstantina Mittas, and Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales (Romance Was Born). "This new school of designers are redefining cool," Kirstie Clements, editor- in-chief at Vogue Australia explains. "Australia is currently undergoing the most noticeable revolution in design that we have seen in decades." AWI began working with these designers more than 12 months ago, assisting them with fabric and yarn sourcing through local and international Woolmark licensees. This ensured their collections, which showcased at Rosemount Australian Spring Summer Fashion Week, featured Australian Merino wool. 14 SELLING MORE WOOL September -- November 2009 BEYOND THE BALE my knitwear, so I'm excited to see that happening. AWI has also been a real support in its promotion of the Woolmark award at L'Oréal Melbourne Fashion Festival. This has given my label great exposure and helped promote my love of natural fibres like wool to a bigger audience. "I am using a lot of wool in my latest collection which I'm developing for the southern hemisphere autumn/winter 2010 and northern hemisphere spring/summer 2009-10 seasons. I'm really happy about this because it means we'll now be selling wool in our collection for both summer and winter." Therese says that her business is faring well despite the global economic downturn, with sales continuing to grow healthily. More information: www.thereserawsthorne.com Therese Rawsthorne
June August 2009