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Beyond the Bale : Oct - Nov 08
Textiles Beyond The Bale 23 Company put its best feet forward A long-term licensing agreement is helping one of Australia’s biggest sock designers stay a comfortable step ahead of its competitors By Rebecca Thyer T he health issues concerning Australia’s top minds, such as the increase of diabetes, are also ‘top of mind’ for those looking after our feet, including Australian sock manufacturer Bellview. Bellview general manager Tina Gianfriddo says the company is always looking for manufacturing and design trends and, as such, the ‘big picture’ issues facing Australia are important. “The rise in diabetes has led us to produce socks with no elastic tops for the diabetic market,” she says. “For diabetics, these socks are important because they don’t cut off circulation, which socks with tight elastic can do.” Other trends the company has been following include those that relate to environmental concerns and lifestyle choices. “We are looking into things like recycling or using organic yarns to meet environmental demands.” Meeting market needs has been helped by Bellview’s long-term relationship with The Woolmark Company. Bellview is a Woolmark licensee and a Sportwool™ sock-manufacturing licensee. Ms Gianfriddo says the relationship with The Woolmark Company, and now AWI, has proven valuable in terms of product research and development. “Aspects such as the work into shrink resistance are very important as socks are always going to go in the washing machine. But other niche areas have also come from working together. “We have always tried to embrace adding value and one result of that has been fashion socks combining wool and aloe vera. The socks essentially massage your feet.” The family-run Melbourne business, which has just moved its manufacturing base to China but will continue to design socks in Australia, produces sock ranges for customers including Kmart and Target, as well as outdoorwear chain Mountain designs. As a Sportwool™ licensee, Bellview has been able to take advantage of the technology and use it in socks manufactured for rip Curl and Mountain designs, and also for its own range of Overlander socks, carried by ray’s Outdoors stores. developed by CSIrO and The Woolmark Company, Sportwool™ brings two fibres together. An inside layer of extra-fine Merino wool against the skin provides qualities such as body-moisture absorption, while the outside synthetic layer provides important dyeing capabilities and durability. Sportwool™’s efficient wicking means sweat is moved away from the body and its vapour management disperses sweat vapour before it condenses. It means Sportwool™ products are drier to the touch and the unique buffering properties of the fabric provide protection in extreme temperature conditions. The technology also has other attributes that make it useful in sock manufacturing: the garments possess natural elasticity, are antibacterial and odour-resistant. Ms Gianfriddo says Sportwool™’s technical benefits of dryness, coolness and breathability win customers over. “Most people who wear Sportwool™ socks do not go back to synthetics. They also last well because of the durability the outer layer of synthetic gives.” Although Sportwool™ socks are a premium product NANO TO KEEP yOU SMEllING NICE First, wool was worn to keep you warm; then, in more recent times, to also keep you cool. Now, in the next stage of this versatile fibre’s development, it can also keep you nice … smelling nice, that is. After extensive testing, AWI has given its support to the use of SmartSilver™ technology on wool fabrics – a process that uses silver nanotechnology to create an antimicrobial environment. This is an environment that is toxic to microorganisms, such as bacteria, because the microscopic (nano) silver particles are small enough to penetrate bacteria cells and inhibit further growth. NanoHorizons Inc., the company that developed the SmartSilver™ process, creates nanoscale performance additives for various industries and has previously established the use of SmartSilver™ for polyester, nylon, polypropylene, cotton and rayon. Wool, with its natural properties such as oil content, provided a challenge for the developers, but NanoHorizons says it can be applied without any effect on wool’s natural attributes such as feel, dye-ability, stretch and thermal properties. The nanotechnology allows tiny particles of silver to bond permanently to the fibres so they never wear or wash off, creating a safe antimicrobial treatment ideal for sportswear, workwear, socks, underwear, shoe linings and hats. It is the nanoscale size of the silver particles that also allows SmartSilver™ protection to work without compromising performance factors and treatments such as easy care, softeners, fire retardants, moisture management and UV protection. AWI’s regional general manager for the Americas Edwin Nazario says AWI believes the partnership will allow new market opportunities for Merino wool. “Now consumers can have the beauty and natural performance features that Merino wool provides along with protection from odour,” he says. “SmartSilver™ provides new options for apparel and footwear designers, especially those in the activewear markets where consumers strongly value odour resistance.” NanoHorizons and AWI both exhibited the development at the recent Outdoor Retailer summer trade show in Salt Lake City, as a trade exibit for the outdoorwear sector (see page 26). An anti-odour application is not the first nanotechnology development for Merino wool fabrics. Klimeo® is a fabric development that uses nanotechnology-developed microcapsules, which are grafted to the fabric fibres. As the temperature changes, so too do the capsules. In cold weather the capsules contain a solid material. This material becomes a liquid at higher temperatures. It is this phase change that provides the temperature regulation. The tiny size of the microcapsules means the treatment given to the fabric is invisible and does not change the texture or look of the material. It is also fully washable and can be dry-cleaned. More information: www.nanohorizons.com; www.klimeo-fashion.com; www.SmartSilverOnline.com and higher priced than other socks, they suit a niche market. “So the price does not tend to be a problem. It also gives us stature to have a product like that.” Bellview’s own Overlander Sportwool™ socks come in a range that includes socks for trekking, hiking, outback, trail running, snowboarding and skiing. Ms Gianfriddo says although having access to technology is an important part of the business relationship with AWI, there are also associated marketing benefits. “Branding recognition from the Woolmark label is the most useful recognition of added value, quality and luxury – and our relationship with AWI gives us all of that.” AWI’s global product development and marketing manager Glenn renshaw says AWI’s relationship with Bellview is beneficial for both sides. “Although we keep them up to date about new research and product developments, we can also refer existing AWI partners to Bellview so that they too can develop partnerships. “They are a good supply chain option,” he says. “We can refer companies to Bellview for wool and Sportwool™ sock options. We make the marriages – essentially sowing the idea and helping to facilitate the business-to-business connection.” More information: www.socks.com ú ú
Dec 08 - Jan 09
Aug - Sep 08