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Beyond the Bale : Dec 06 - Jan 07
Australian wool goes to Paris with Easton Pearson Two Brisbane designers are finding that wool helps them take their clothes to the world 14 FASHION BEYOND THE BALE Australian Merino in Paris, thanks to Easton Pearson's striking designs. Cool and convenient wool impresses Asian market Australian Merino is star ting to reap the benefit of innovative products designed to meet the lifestyles of the consumers of China and Japan By Melissa Marino The manufacture of Heilan machine-washable and Aoyama high-twist Merino 'cool wool' suits has swung into full production after successful trials in China and Japan. AWI global product development manager Jimmy Jackson says the demand for full production shows the interest in Australian Merino wool products is strengthening in key Asian markets. But he says the success of the trial runs is not due to the reputation of the fibre alone : "You need something else. The key is getting on to retailers' shelves: you've got to come up with innovative products that meet consumers' changing lifestyles, attitudes or demands." Mr Jackson says AWI has worked closely with local businesses to identify unique selling points in line with the specific customer needs, and created products to fit. In energy-conscious Japan, where a national policy has cut back airconditioning in government buildings, that need is for a cool wool suit. In China, where 15 million new washing machines are sold each year and where people have an aversion to dry-cleaning, a machine-washable suit is the order. The Heilan suit, developed by AWI and the Chinese menswear manufacturing and retailing giant the Heilan Group, with Melbourne's Berkeley Apparel and CSIRO, holds its shape and style after machine-washing. Made from 50 per cent polyester and 50 per cent 19.5 and 21 micron Australian Merino wool, the suits' first outing in China this year was received well by the market -- 4000 suits selling out in all stores. Heilan is now rolling out another 45,000 suits across the season that started in September. So far 20,000 suits have been delivered to 250 Heilan retail shops in China to meet demand. Meanwhile, the pilot run of 3700 'cool wool' suits, made from high-twist Australian Merino wool, has almost sold out just four months after being launched in Japan by AWI and Japanese retailer Aoyama. The suit retails for about A$660 and has generated about A$2.3 million in sales. The unique fabric, developed by AWI in collaboration with Japanese spinner and weaver NIKKE (Nippon Keori Kaisha), is created using yarn with a relatively high number of turns per inch. It feels crisp and soft and is extremely lightweight, with increased breathability and stretch. Labelled the PAZZO collection, it successfully attracted the attention of fashion-conscious young customers who enjoyed the fitted cut and style and the colours and patterns of the fabric, Aoyama Trading Company general manager Yoshiyuki Maekawa says. "We see a potential for a significant volume of demand for the PAZZO and other Merino lightweight suits in the future," he says. The suit has helped people keep cool in offices that have limited their airconditioning as part of the Japanese Government's Cool Biz project to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Another 20,000 suits are now in production in preparation for release on the retail market for spring/summer 2007. In China, the Heilan suit is being promoted as supporting a 'healthy way of living' in line with current social trends, bypassing the need for chemical dry- cleaning procedures and saving time and energy. Heilan executives said the suit met consumer demand for easy care, convenience, style and -- at a price of about A$200 -- cost-effectiveness. "Natural fibres are being sought after by our customers," says Heilan corporate planning director Madame Tao. "However, price is a very important factor. We appreciate AWI's efforts to assist us in addressing both issues and with their marketing support we see even more potential in this area." ú More information: www.merinoinnovation.com The demand for full production of suits such as Heilan's machine-washable suit (above) shows the overwhelming interest in Australian Merino wool products in China. By Kellie Penfold Pamela Easton and Lydia Pearson are the talent behind the Brisbane-based label Easton Pearson, established in 1989 when the two felt the need to create 'clothes with soul'. Their clothes with soul are now often clothes with wool. AWI has helped Easton Pearson source Australian Merino wool fabrics suitable for their new spring/summer 2007 (northern hemisphere) collection showcased at Paris Fashion Week in October. Media and buyers enjoyed an event at the 17th century Hotel de Sers, described as "part sculpture, part performance art". A new Australian Merino wool jersey and an innovative lightweight fabric that is 50 per cent Australian Merino wool, 20 per cent cashmere and 30 per cent silk have been used in the new collection. "We are in love with the new lightweight woven Merino wool fabrics, which are perfect for the trans- seasonal requirements of the northern hemisphere summer season," Lydia Pearson says. "The new Merino jersey is excellent to work with. "We have a very exciting group of dresses, cardigans, tops and a pair of micro-shorts, all made out of the lightweight fabric, and some gorgeous, chic, minimal pieces made from wool jersey." Pamela Easton adds: "The quality and diversity of fabrics available with Australian Merino wool are astounding. We have been able to take an entirely new direction on our designs with some of the fabrics AWI has sourced for us." Melissa Grace, AWI's fashion communications manager, has been working closely with Lydia and Pamela. "Working with labels such as Easton Pearson helps AWI in presenting the true versatility and beneficial qualities of Australian Merino wool to the international fashion marketplace," Melissa says. "We are pleased to work with such unique and creative Australian designers who embrace Australian Merino wool." Paris Fashion Week Ready-To-Wear collection fashion parades were held from 1 to 8 October this year. Paris Fashion Week attracts media, buyers and retailers from across Europe and is one of the most recognised annual events on the fashion calendar. Acclaimed by retailer David Jones as one of their 'designer drawcards', Easton Pearson is one of Australia's most respected labels. The pair have two stand-alone stores: one in their home town of Brisbane and the other in Paddington, Sydney. Since first showing in Paris in 1998, they have staged a low-key presentation in a private salon each year, but this season decided to go 'all out'. "This is the biggest thing we've ever undertaken in Paris and it was a big step for us," Pamela says. "We felt it was the right time to open up what we do and talk to a broader audience in a louder voice, if you like." Easton Pearson now boasts more than 70 international clients in 24 countries across the world, ranging from Norway to Saudi Arabia and Italy to Japan, as well as in Australia, the US and New Zealand. ú More information: www.eastonpearson.com
Feb 07 - Mar 07