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Beyond the Bale : December 2012
in their designs. And what has been really great for us to see is that most of those Hong Kong designers are now using wool, because they value that scholarship." It was the first time the designers on this visit had seen Merino sheep in their natural habitat. Flinders Merino not only provided the young designers with intimate knowledge of how the fibre is produced, but also offered genuine hospitality, a glimpse into the life of Australian woolgrowers and an appreciation of the Australian landscape. The young designers also had the opportunity to visit Adelaide's Michell Pty Ltd -- the world's only wholly owned vertical wool supply chain and 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. The designers' tour also included visits to AWEX and AWTA to offer education about the pre-export process; RMIT University's School of Fashion and Textiles to showcase their work to Australian designers and exchange ideas from a professional perspective; EMU Australia to understand the quality of wool and sheepskin used; and the National Wool Museum to learn the history of the wool industry. By sponsoring scholarships and study tours 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. While the aim of the tour was to educate the young designers about Australian wool, and inspire them to use more of the fibre in their designs, the Australian woolgrowers and companies that the designers visited were also able to learn about the key market of Hong Kong and the thoughts of its young fashion designers. More information: A video of the designers' visit, including comments from the designers and the woolgrowers they visited, is available at www. youtube.com/woolmarkonline One of the young Hong Kong designers learning the skills involved with shearing. Woolgrowers from the Flinders Merino woolgrower group being shown some of the Merino wool designs of the visiting designers. 19 OFF-FARM December 2012 BEYOND THE BALE