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Beyond the Bale : Aug 07 - Sep 07
In Japanese, 'sugoi' means incredible and that is one way to describe the new range of Sugoi athletic apparel made from Australian Merino wool. AWI and Sugoi, a leading sports-clothing manufacturer, have teamed up to introduce the new 'Wallaroo' line of Merino activewear, and retailers across North America are clamouring to order the revolutionary new line. For 20 years, Sugoi has produced great-looking, high- performance athletic apparel for runners, cyclists, triathletes and fitness enthusiasts. The company has won a number of awards, most notably for its elite cycling shorts, recognised three years in a row by Bicycling/Mountain Bike (US), What Mountain Bike (UK) and Mountain Bike (Germany). Sugoi is the largest manufacturer of running and cycling apparel in Canada and the third-largest manufacturer of running apparel in the US. This is the first time in Sugoi's history that the company has used natural fibre in one of its lines, having favoured synthetics in the past, and Sugoi's president Stan Mavis is pleased with retail demand for the products. "We've already had fantastic bookings and the response has truly been spectacular," Mr Mavis says. "The buyers were surprised that it was so luxurious and had almost a cashmere feel to it." Sugoi focuses on exceptional fit, details and reliable performance, and looks to develop technical solutions for cardiovascular sports. After much research, Merino was chosen because it is both a natural and technical fibre, as well as for its soft feel. Athletes also appreciate the breathability and durability that Merino offers. "AWI introduced us to a special enzyme wash, which can be used to take out the coarser fibres and produce a more uniform and consistent product that washes and wears very well," he says. "North America is a washer/dryer society, so it was important that the product be washer/dryer friendly." To represent Merino's key properties, the new collection is fittingly named Wallaroo, after the type of kangaroo most adaptable to hot and cold temperatures. Merino has excellent thermal regulation and moisture movement, to keep the wearer comfortable in all conditions, even when they are wet. Stuart McCullough, director of AWI's North American operations, is enthusiastic about the new line and how it is already changing common misperceptions about Merino worldwide. "AWI is constantly looking for ways to spread the word that Merino is not the itchy, scratchy product it used to be," says Mr McCullough, who spearheaded the Sugoi partnership with AWI. "We are working hard to ensure that we extend the retailers' adoption of new Merino wool products featuring luxurious feel, softness and easy-care properties." Mr McCullough also says Sugoi is the perfect company to showcase Merino as a high-performance fibre. "Given Sugoi has a reputation for developing high-tech activewear, it is a company that major North American retailers study as a cutting-edge innovator," he says. "Therefore, the fact that the Wallaroo line is already enjoying strong retail demand here is extremely positive for Merino." The Wallaroo collection features two different weights of Merino and seven styles of men's and women's apparel. Some pieces are intended to be used for base-layering while others can be worn independently, depending on the activity. The new collection is consistent with other Sugoi lines, featuring the same look and feel and performance-oriented stitching. With AWI's expert assistance, even the colours are the same, and nothing was lost in the transition from synthetics to natural fibre. To help market the products and drive additional awareness for Merino, Sugoi also gave retailers Merino- branded bags to display the product in stores. "This is a brand new category for us," Mr Mavis says. "We currently have a 60 per cent adoption rate, which is the most successful booking we've ever had for a new category. And that's worldwide, out of approximately 2000 accounts that we handle. That's incredible in any language." ú More information: www.sugoi.com 21 OUTDOORS BEYOND THE BALE Australian Merino cycling wear from Sugoi's new 'Wallaroo' range. Wool makes waves in Italy The Italian fashion press was recently treated to a day at the beach to learn more about Australian Merino wool. Attila & Co, AWI's public-relations company in Italy, organised the seasonal press day to provide their clients with an opportunity to demonstrate products or new seasonal collections to the most important fashion, sport and lifestyle magazines in Europe. AWI presented the 'Australian beach' -- a beach scene in which two models wore swimwear/beachwear made from Australian Merino wool. Valentina Campana, a 23-year-old Italian model, wore a beautiful black Merino wool bikini designed by Josephine Nathan, designer for the woolliwoolli brand. Raul Ernesto Pardeilhan, a 26-year-old Argentinian model, wore a navy Driza-Bone® Merino wool t-shirt and a swimsuit. Raul said he was astonished that wool could remain soft and light and comfortable to wear on a hot, humid day in Milan. About 150 editors visited the collections, and all of them stopped at the AWI beach.The models and AWI's representatives explained the trans-seasonal qualities of Merino fibre, as well as its other attributes. All editors and journalists were surprised by the softness of the fibre as well as its cool touch in the summer heat. The reaction was enthusiastic, as fashion writers realised the notion of wool being an itchy fibre was something that was no longer a reality.When feeling the t-shirts and bikinis several journalists had trouble believing they were 100 per cent Merino wool garments. Marcella Gabbiano, the editor from Affari e Finanza (the economic supplement of La Repubblica, an influential daily newspaper in Italy), made the following comment on the AWI beach: "The AWI corner certainly had a spectacular setting, reproducing the image of an Australian beach with two live models actually wearing wool bathing suits." Marcella interviewed the model who wore the bikini to find out if she, as a young girl of the 21st century, liked the idea of reintroducing wool as it was in the 1950s. She answered: "I would never have imagined that wool could have all these amazing (comfort) features and at the same time be so fashionable." Luca Lanzoni, fashion editor of Elle magazine, was also attracted to the beach, because in the past he had written about the use of cashmere in sportswear. He was astonished by the feel of both the bikini and the man's t-shirt, because his idea of wool was "something impossible to wear on bare skin". Luca requested more information about Australian Merino wool for Elle. He said: "Fashion is always looking for news -- wool is one of the most ancient fibres, so its use in different areas such as sportswear is a novelty." Merino goes for an incredible ride The Wallaroo -- a kangaroo able to adapt to hot and cold conditions -- lends its name to Sugoi's new high-performance range Models demonstrate the outstanding qualities of Merino as beach and swimwear in AWI's 'Australian beach' showcase in Italy.
Aug 07 - Sep 07 Supplement
Jun 07 - Jul 07 Supplement