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Beyond the Bale : March 2012
FAST FACTS l The reception to AWI’s new ‘Merino Retract’ knitwear technology has been very positive. l AWI has exhibited its autumn/ winter 2011/12 collection at leading international trade shows. l AWI organised a study tour for key Hong Kong knitters to the Shanghai region, to educate them about Merino wool. The reception to AWI’s new ‘Merino Retract’ knitwear technology, which was launched at July’s SpinExpo trade show in New York and again marketed at September’s SpinExpo trade show in Shanghai, has been very positive. Garments made from ‘Merino Retract’ yarns have the attractive look and feel of boiled wool, but have none of the deficiencies of normal boiled wool products. The garments are fully machine washable and have excellent stretch recovery properties, so they don’t suffer from bagging. AWI general manager of product development and commercialisation Jimmy Jackson says there has been a lot of interest in the ‘Merino Retract’ technology, which is part of AWI’s Merino Casual autumn/winter 2011/12 collection. “The innovation was a real star of the shows and received a lot of attention, inspiring interest from many of the visiting buyers and merchandisers,” Mr Jackson says. “Boiled wool has been available for many years now and is well known for its unique texture and casual aesthetic. But unfortunately, it has also been well known for its stiffness, which tends to restrict it to certain garment styles and it’s difficult if not impossible to make it machine washable. “However, ‘Merino Retract’ is based on the use of specially engineered wool yarns, which can be simply knitted and the boiled wool appearance and texture is then developed during the subsequent garment finishing process. “The resulting fabric and garment has the look of ‘boiled’ wool but with excellent stretch recovery properties and is also fully machine washable. In addition the styles of garments which can be produced are not as limited.” The ‘Merino Retract’ technology and the rest of AWI’s Merino Casual collection address the global trend towards a more informal, casual style of dressing. They have a stylish new ‘edge’ targeted at the young fashion-conscious street wear and casual wear markets. AWI has also been exhibiting its range of Merino TouchTM commercial apparel made from super-soft yarns and fabrics that provide a touch of luxury in an affordable knitted garment. AWI is now conducting workshops around the world to buying and design teams of the world’s leading apparel brands and retailers. More information: www.wool.com/ collections Merino innovations showcased FAST FACTS l The 2012 ISPO trade show showcased more Merino products than ever before, with AWI this year focusing on mid and outer wear. l Leading outdoor brands launched innovative new products – from jackets padded with Australian wool to 100 per cent Merino hiking pants. l This year also saw the launch at ISPO of the Wool Lounge – an education area highlighting the process from sheep to shop and the benefits of Australian Merino. Australian wool continues to kick goals in the sports apparel market, with more Merino products recorded at this year’s ISPO trade show in Munich, Germany, than ever showcased before. AWI continues to collaborate with leading manufacturers and brands in this expanding market to promote the many natural benefits of wool. Building on the already comprehensive MerinoPerformTM range, AWI this year promoted the ‘three-layering system’ – a way of dressing endorsed by the sporting industry – which gives the wearer the opportunity to adjust their clothing to the environment as well as to the level of activity. AWI Sports and Outdoor Category Manager Lars Ulvesund said with more Merino on display than ever before it was a clear sign the properties and benefits of Merino as a technical fibre was gaining a greater recognition in this important market. “There has been extremely positive feedback received from several leading sports brands after showcasing both mid and outer layer outdoor apparel,” Mr Ulvesund said. “We saw the launching of many new products, such as American brand Smartwool launching a jacket padded with Australian wool instead of what was commonly padded with a traditional down filling. Another example is American company Global Merino that launched 100 per cent Merino fabrics for outdoor hiking pants. Even brands which usually produce synthetic-based apparel, such as Craft and Haglofs, have adopted Merino into their garment collections.” Leading European brand in apparel for cross country, alpine, running and bike wear, Craft, launched a new Merino seamless base layer range at ISPO. “Being a supplier to numerous national teams and professional users we cannot settle with anything less than the best of the best,” Craft Sports Marketing Manager Daniel Larsson said. “This range is a perfect complement to our collection and we are now offering a complete range of base layers for all weather conditions and activity levels.” And while high-quality shopping is usually associated with the likes of Savile Row, the Champs-Elysees and Oxford Street, for the second year running ‘ Wool Street’ was the place to be at ISPO. Teaming up with the trade show’s organisers, AWI co-arranged this indoor boulevard flanked with trade stands from major sports apparel brands. AWI also arranged for the inaugural ‘ Wool Lounge’ to be set up at the stand of leading European outdoor brand Ortovox. This wool education area showcased the production pipeline from sheep to shop as well as the benefits of Australian Merino. “We work with the best and most professional retailers and we develop highly technical and advanced products,” Ortovox Head of Communication Hendrik Reschke said. “For us it is very important to make sure our retail partners have a good knowledge of our products and materials used. Merino is a very advanced fibre and we are keen to pass on the information on its properties and benefits to our customers.” Close to 80,000 visiting industry professionals from more than 100 countries visited ISPO this year to view the latest trends in the outdoor market. A key highlight of the event was a seminar on the comeback of natural fibres, with the focus being on Merino wool. More information: www.merino.com Teaming up with the ISPO trade show’s organisers, AWI co-arranged the “Wool Street” – an indoor boulevard flanked with trade stands from major sports apparel brands. Merino gets sporty March 2012 BEYOND THE BALE 17 A section of the “Wool Lounge” at ISPO – showcasing the production pipeline from sheep to shop as well as the benefits of Australian Merino.