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Beyond the Bale : Oct 07 - Nov 07
22 TEXTILES BEYOND THE BALE By Rebecca Thyer Australian Merino featured prominently in Driza- Bone's first fashion show in its 110-year history at Sydney's Darling Harbour in August. All three of Driza-Bone's 2008 winter collections -- Heritage for Men and Women, Men's Urban and Driza-Bone Activ -- use 100 per cent Australian Merino, which national sales manager Tony McLaughlin says goes "to the heart of the brand" and will increasingly be incorporated into new product lines. "Australian Merino is a good fit for Driza-Bone," he says. "It fits well with our connection to the land, a connection that started more than a century ago. From chunky wool knits to fine-gauge twin sets and technical performance wear, these new collections make a comprehensive Merino statement." Mr McLaughlin says more than 100 guests attended the collections' launch and interest in the new range and its use of Merino wool was high. "We have had a fantastic response from both Australian and New Zealand buyers," he says. As a leader in marketing Merino-based products, New Zealand's positive response to Driza-Bone's 2008 winter collection was exciting and flattering. It has also led to sales: one of New Zealand's major department stores and more than 50 independent retailers will stock the new collection. And many of these will use the company's new shop-in-shop fixtures, which were also on show in Sydney. Mr McLaughlin says the only criticism of the Australian icon's first fashion show was that it was too short. "The parade went for about 40 minutes and afterwards nobody left the event. They all stayed to look at our new shop fixtures and fittings and merchandised products. It was fantastic." At the launch, prospective buyers were also casting their eyes over banners and displays supplied by AWI. Mr McLaughlin says AWI support has been crucial. "The value of working with AWI is enormous on a marketing, personal and product-development level -- AWI is our main source of innovation at a fibre level." AWI's Jennifer Lau says AWI was more than happy to help out with the collection launch. "It is important to support an existing business partner by providing educational and historical information for their business partners so that they can appreciate and better understand Australian Merino fibre and processes involved to get to the final garment form." It also helped educate Driza-Bone's staff, distributors and customers about Australian Merino through a 'cheat sheet' answering potential queries and concerns about wool's use and care while intertwining Driza-Bone's heritage message with Australian Merino's history. Mr McLaughlin says the company is excited about Driza-Bone's future, which is increasingly using 100 per cent Australian Merino wool. "Driza- Bone has an unparalleled history of producing technical outerwear that delivers real performance. We are now adding stylish clothing using nature's own performance fibre, Merino wool, that retailers and consumers want." ú More information: Jennifer Lau, email@example.com; www.drizaboneactiv.com A marriage of two icons A historic first for Australian icon Driza- Bone -- a fashion show -- underlines its investment in Australian Merino By Kellie Penfold When you think King Gee, the image of a soft Merino wool jumper does not immediately spring to mind. However, the Australian workwear company is one of the country's best-known brands supplying industrial and corporate wear, and has plans to launch a new Australian Merino range in 2008. AWI has been nurturing a partnership with the company by illustrating the advantages of using Merino wool. In late August, a group of King Gee product managers and designers spent the day getting to know the Australian wool industry. AWI organised for the group to travel from Sydney to the Dowling family's wool-growing farm on the Southern Tablelands, then to see the jumper-knitting process at Elegant Knitting -- the Penrith-based knitwear company. They finished the day with a visit to the M200 exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum. "If AWI hadn't initiated the tour, we certainly would never have planned it, but the end result was we have a greater enthusiasm for Australian Merino and it confirmed our plans to include a range of Australian Merino jumpers in our corporate range in 2008," says King Gee marketing manager Feargal Caley. "We knew lots about cotton, lots about polyester, but little about wool. Now we have a new-found respect for the hands-on aspect of wool production. "I'd always assumed the fleece was measured by some sort of machine in the shed, but instead a person classes it visually as it is shorn, which illustrates the passion of Australian woolgrowers." King Gee not only makes industrial and corporate workwear for retailers, but supplies clothing directly to some of Australia's large employers such as Telstra and the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority. Mr Caley says 100 per cent Merino jumpers will suit office-bound employees who want something lightweight that warms them when they are cold, and cools them when they are hot. "King Gee understands much better, as a result of the tour, the natural aspects of wool growing. On the other hand, the mulesing issue had been a concern for us and, really, it is only the illustration that woolgrowers are prepared to change practices and are working towards a solution that has convinced us to include wool in our range. "If the wool industry wasn't prepared to find an alternative to surgical mulesing we would not have wanted wool in our range and we appreciate AWI's help with understanding that issue." Kelly Dowling, who hosted the team at the farm she runs with her parents Eric and Kim at Dalton, between Yass and Goulburn, says woolgrowers play a vital part in developing partnerships in the industry. "Three of the people on the tour had never even seen a sheep before," says Kelly, who yarded 100 hogget rams to illustrate different types of wool and explain sheep management. Her husband Phillip Jones, who is the district wool manager for Elders, then explained what happens once the wool leaves the shearing shed. "One of the key selling points with wool is it is a beautiful natural fibre created in a clean natural environment," Mr Jones says. "For the textile and clothing industry to see how we run Merino sheep helps promote that fact. "On the other hand, by talking to the clothing industry, woolgrowers like myself get a greater understanding of the complexities of the textile industry and how what we do on-farm does affect how the processors work with wool." ú More information: Jennifer Lau, firstname.lastname@example.org Wool for the worker Australian workwear giant King Gee is planning to launch a Merino range in 2008, so a group of managers and designers spent a day with woolgrowers -- and their sheep A good fit: Australian Merino on the catwalk in Driza-Bone's first fashion show. Wool at work: King Gee product managers and designers get back to basics at Kelly Dowling's family farm on NSW's Southern Tablelands. AWI's 'heritage wall' displays some of Australian Merino wool's history to those attending the Driza-Bone show.
Aug 07 - Sep 07 Supplement
Dec - Jan 08