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Beyond the Bale : Dec 06 - Jan 07
16 TEXTILES BEYOND THE BALE South Australian woolgrower Geoff Power, back in his own shearing shed after a trip to look at the market potential for wool in China. n fashion retailers and manufacturers are always on the lookout for 'the next ing'.The problem is they often do not know what they are looking for until find it. So AWI has decided to help. After opening its New Delhi office in mid-2006,AWI held its first showcase stralian Merino in India in early October opening the eyes of retailers, ners, manufacturers and fashion media to the possibilities with wool. Mahua Das, AWI apparel product services manager, says the event in India wed on from the launch of Merino Care, Merino Visual and Merino Soft -- at xpo in Shanghai, China, and in Hong Kong -- to introduce about 120 guests to the AWI autumn/winter 2007-08 collection. AWI's CEO, Dr Len Stephens, welcomed the visitors to the function and Jimmy Jackson, AWI's global product development manager, talked them through the range, which includes more than 20 innovations such as Aloe Vera Merino -- where micro-capsulated aloe vera is knitted into the fabric allowing skin to be moisturised while the garment is being worn -- and Aqua Merino, a fabric that absorbs moisture from the air and feels cool in warmer months. Models were used to bring the fabrics to life in sample garments. "The feedback was great and the press was very positive," Ms Das says. "AWI is the new kid on the block in India and we are bringing something fresh to them in a whole spectrum of products. "Global fashion is huge in India -- all the retailers are moving there, such as Polo, Levis, Nautica, Benetton, just to name a few.Young Indian consumers are increasingly influenced by Western fashion trends.The average age of the Indian population is 24 and they are trendy global consumers." It is estimated there are 350 million middle to high- income earners in India, the world's second-largest textile exporter, which buys 20 million kilograms of Australian Merino a year. Australia supplies about 60 per cent of India's imported apparel wool. The AWI team then travelled to Bangladesh, the third- largest knitwear exporter in the world, to conduct a seminar on Australian Merino. "The knitters in Bangladesh use mostly cotton and acrylic, but are keen on using wool," Ms Das says. "Some of the top-level knitters indicated after the seminar that they were planning to use Australian Merino next year. "Our Indian office will now work with contacts made through both events to help them source products, get to the supply chain and show them just what the next big thing can be." -- KELLIE PENFOLD More information: www.merinoinnovation.com WI shows Indian markets e next big thing By Kellie Penfold South Australian woolgrower and WoolProducers councillor Geoff Power is urging fellow woolgrowers to "hang in there" after seeing for himself the potential for Australian Merino in China. "I know it's hard to be told to stick with wool for another 12 to 18 months, but the work AWI is doing in China is impressive," Mr Power says. "It is on the right track and China is where the new middle-class consumers of quality products will be. The benefits to the Australian woolgrower will flow once everything in the pipeline takes off." Mr Power, who runs a medium wool enterprise at Orroroo in South Australia, was one of six wool industry representatives selected to join an AWI tour. They were given first-hand experience of the direct business relationships AWI has with Chinese businesses, to raise the level of understanding among growers of the AWI strategy in this key market. Meetings with representatives of leading wool industry businesses in Beijing, Ningbo and Shanghai highlighted to the group the high regard these businesses have for Australian Merino wool. The five-day tour coincided with SpinExpo -- a biannual event at which an estimated 150 spinners from more than 15 countries display their fibres, yarns, knitwear and knitting fabrics. It was the second time AWI had attended SpinExpo, with many existing and potential customers visiting the company's site during the three-day event. "SpinExpo was unbelievable and the AWI display was striking and one of the most popular sites," Mr Power says. "Australian Merino was promoted as a high- tech fabric for a high-tech world and that message came across well." The tour group met with Reward, the largest topmaker in China, which buys more than 180,000 bales of Australian wool a year. AWI has a close working relationship with Reward as early-stage processing partners, where the project focus is 'Softwool'. This is created by a treatment known as 'Basolan', which increases softness, resulting in a final product that 'feels' about two microns less than actual measurement. Reward supplies wool tops to another business the group met: the Youngor Group, one of China's largest manufacturers of men's suits. Youngor produces about two million suits a year, with wool comprising 75 per cent of all fibre used by the company. AWI's focus with Youngor is its 'Business Travel Suit' project to produce a crush-resistant, crease-resistant and stain-repellent suit. This innovation is targeted at the Chinese middle class, which is growing by 22 million people each year. The group was also given a tour of Heilan, another of AWI's business partners and one of China's biggest wool textile mills, which manufactures 3.5 million suits a year. Heilan entered into a commercial partnership with AWI in early 2005 to produce machine-washable, wool-blend suits for retail in China. The first batch of 4000 suits has sold out and the second round of production will be delivered to Chinese stores in coming months. The group also met with the China Wool Textile Association (CWTA), China's peak organisation in the wool textile industry. This gave the visiting Australians an understanding of the complexities and scale of the Chinese wool industry. Also on the tour were Neil Jackson, president of the Stud Merino Breeders Association of Western Australia; Tom Ashby, vice-president of the Australian Association of Stud Merino Breeders; Greg Weller, executive director of WoolProducers; Simon Murnane, general manager of the Meat, Wool and Dairy department of the Food and Agriculture Division, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF); and Sarah Ackland, Tasmanian woolgrower and Nuffield Scholar. ú More information: www.merinoinnovation.com First-hand look at China AWI gives six industry representatives a ringside seat in China as the country's keen interest in Australian Merino intensifies Nuffield winners aim for wool industry improvement From dual-purpose sheep genetics to wool's global market, this year's AWI-sponsored Nuffield scholars aim to better understand and improve Australia's changing wool industry. Andrew Bouffler, from Lockhart, NSW, and James Walker, from Carrick,Tasmania, were awarded Nuffield scholarships in October. Each will take part in Nuffield's global focus tours next year and complete individual study tours. Mr Bouffler works with his brother Philip on the 3000- hectare family enterprise 'Trigger Vale', regarded as one of the most progressive studs in Australia. He plans to study dual-purpose sheep genetics, performance-testing techniques and associated analysis tools. "My fundamental concern is that the sheep flock in Australia is at very low historical levels," he says. "Estimates for the 2006 national joining suggest that not enough Merino ewes will be mated to maternal sires to even sustain these Mercerised Merino fabric on show at the India event. Nuffield scholars James Walker and Andrew Bouffler.
Feb 07 - Mar 07