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Beyond the Bale : Apr 07 - May 07
Insect-resistant Merino causes a buzz AWI's MerinO2 range of sports and performance fibres was eagerly received at the US's Outdoor Retailer and Germany's ISPO trade fairs By Melissa Marino They may look like normal sports clothes, but a new range of AWI products recently showcased at two international trade fairs has special properties designed to provide distinctive benefits to wearers. The capacity to ward off insects and sun and resist fire and water are among the attributes of some 17 high- performing Australian Merino products that generated keen interest at Outdoor Retailer in the US and ISPO in Germany -- two of the world's biggest trade fairs for outdoor and sports apparel. In Munich, a record 64,000 delegates, including designers, buyers, retailers and weavers, attended ISPO to view 1,970 exhibits from around the world. The AWI exhibit was strategically located around high- profile woollen apparel and accessories brands to deliver the message that AWI is the industry body for Merino wool -- specifically in sports and performance categories. AWI global sports/active wear manager Mark Brooks says there was considerable interest in wool as a natural high- performance fibre, and AWI generated a lot of positive leads from the show. "Sustainability is a big issue these days," he says. "Brands realise the importance of performance fibres, but they don't want them as a cost to the environment or to their brand credibility. A lot of people look at wool as being the alternative that meets performance aspects but still has the sustainability aspect." In Salt Lake City, sustainability was also a key theme of Outdoor Retailer, a leading trade event hosting US and international delegates, including manufacturers and retailers. This year it recorded almost 18,000 visitors -- the most in its 25-year history and an increase of 24 per cent on 2006. Mr Brooks says important leads were generated as a result of the AWI showcase featuring natural Merino products and clothing, incorporating mosquito-repellent finishes, UV protection and other technical enhancements. "In essence the show was largely about the natural renewable fibre, but we also showed what you can do to enhance the natural performance of Merino," he says. "We tailored it towards the outdoor industry with UV, anti- mosquito, windproof, waterproof and breathable products." Mr Brooks says there is "a real buzz" about natural fibres in the US -- the largest-volume consumer-apparel market for sports and active wear -- and Merino wool is taking a lead role. "It's in everyone's minds," he says. "People are looking for it so it was important for us to be there, with our industry partners from Australia, including DPK Textiles, Melba Industries and Wilderness Wear, to show what is possible with Merino fibre." AWI made its debut at Outdoor Retailer this year and exhibited for just the second time at ISPO. Mr Brooks 19 WOOL FOR OUTDOORS BEYOND THE BALE says it will continue its presence as the wool industry taps new markets in sports, outdoor and active wear, which are growing each year. The industry is developing more sophisticated materials and influencing fashion directions as well, he says. "AWI as a relatively young organisation is growing, and we're now looking at further worldwide opportunities to increase demand for Australian Merino fibre by linking into other areas such as the hunting and fishing outdoor markets," he says. ISPO and Outdoor Retailer are held a week apart (Far left) AWI's stand showcasing Merino products at the Outdoor Retailer trade fair in Salt Lake City. (Left and below) The AWI site at ISPO, Munich, that hosted some 64,000 delegates over three days in February. early in the year, allowing representatives of international companies to view products almost simultaneously on separate continents. It gives AWI a chance to design a consolidated platform that can be tailored to suit the characteristics of each fair, Mr Brooks says. The trade shows were used to showcase AWI's MerinO range, which includes three sports platforms: Climate, clothing that manages moisture next to the skin; Stretch, which enhances performance and comfort; and Protect, which is mainly for outdoor and extreme conditions. It was also a chance to launch globally the new range it has developed with iconic Australian company Driza-Bone®, which exhibited alongside AWI. Mr Brooks says AWI's involvement in both shows brought essential market exposure to trade media and key decision-makers along the outdoor, sports and active wear apparel industry supply chains. "People go there, see what's happening and make key decisions about their collections for coming seasons," he says. "This is basically the catalyst for the next winter season and an opportunity to increase Merino fibre consumption." ú More information: Mark Brooks, email@example.com
Jun 07 - Jul 07
Feb 07 - Mar 07 Supplement