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Beyond the Bale : December 2011
December 2011 BEYOND THE BALE 17 OFF-FARM all these sincere, genuine and kind hearted people. I would like to thank AWI and Flinders Merino for that." As the world's only wholly owned vertical wool supply chain and as an important supplier of carbonised wool into the Hong Kong knitwear market, Michell was well suited to assist the tour and explain to the designers the complexities of the wool value chain. Michell has invested heavily in its supply chain and maintains early stage processing facilities in Adelaide whilst building in 2005 a new carbonising and superwashing facility in Suzhou, China. This investment in the future of wool has continued with the establishment of topmaking and spinning factories in Malaysia. Their baselayer Merino clothing brand IO-Merino is a natural extension of this supply chain and is sold in Europe, Japan and North America. To assist in the tour and to help the Michell grower clients, the company's Marketing Manager Michael Blake travelled to the Flinders Ranges with some of the designers. He explained to them how wool gets from the sheep's back to the mill and other interesting wool technicalities. Back at Michell's premises in Adelaide, the designers were able to see the scouring and carbonising process of wool and learn about other stages of the wool supply chain, including combing and yarn spinning, right through to the retailing of the Michell IO-Merino garments. Michael Blake commented, "It was a pleasure for Michell Direct Wool to assist and show our wool processing facilities to the visitors. This whole tour was a great opportunity for the designers to see the source of wool production in one of the most spectacular settings, and credit must be given to the hosting woolgrowers from Flinders Merino for their time and effort." During their visits to AWEX and AWTA, the designers were taught about wool auctions, testing and controls. Wool Technical Office at AWEX, Philip Jeffries, noted, "It was obvious that the designers all have a rich thirst for a greater knowledge of wool which no doubt will lead to these young and creative people considering wool as an alternative to synthetics for their future collections. The more time and effort spent on education and promotion will be paid back to the wool industry many times over." During their visit to EMU Australia, the designers learnt about the company's operations. Marketing & Public Relations Coordinator at EMU Australia, Taryn Elder, commented, "To be able to speak with these designers about the ways in which they perceive Merino wool as a 'luxury fibre' was extremely insightful. The designers were all very interested and wanted to know about everything from the sourcing of Merino wool, to the production process, as well as our target demographics." By sponsoring Australia Study Tour Scholarships in Hong Kong, AWI aims to raise awareness of the natural benefits of Australian Merino wool among the young generation of design talent in this important location. Hong Kong is one of the world's major knitwear exporters. As the gateway for southern and eastern Chinese wool processors and manufacturers, it is a global hub for sourcing wool garments particularly for the major US and European brands. More information: www.wool.com/HK2, www.wool.com/HK Flinders Merino hosting a BBQ for the visiting designers. Left to right: John and June Parnell, Reuben Solly, Vincy Cheng of AWI, Penny Chan, Yan Chan, Kevin Leung, Julia Tong, Barbie Chan, Jean Chan, Gallery Tam, Val Power, Alex Lai of AWI, Dean Hooper, Geoff Power. The designers examining treated sheep skin during a visit to EMU Australia, in Geelong.