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Beyond the Bale : September 2014
18 OFF FARM For the past two-and-a-half years, AWI has had its sights set on Russia. Once the second largest buyer of Australian wool, the demise of the political powerhouse in 1991 saw wool trade with Australia virtually stop, that is until 2011 when AWI launched its ‘To Russia with Wool’ project. With its large population of nearly 150 million people and its extremes in temperature, Russia has emerged as a major retail market. Since the launch of the campaign, AWI has signed on seven Russian Woolmark licensees. One of the latest licensees is a high-end Russian womenswear brand called ARTWIZARD, which is set to launch a Woolmark-certified collection for the Russian winter with the theme ‘Crazy Sheep’. At the heart of the collection will be a series of Merino fur coats, hats, skirts, jackets, leg-warmers and bags. “We call it luxury you don’t have to kill for,” explains AWI’s General Manager of Product Development and Commercialisation Jimmy Jackson. “The coats and other items of apparel are made from 100 per cent Merino wool fabric, imitating furs of animals such as lama, rabbit, mink and fox. What is produced is extremely warm and stylish ‘fur’ coats with no animal suffering.” ARTWIZARD will also be releasing a collection of 100 per cent wool jersey sweaters, pants, jackets and skirts in what they call ‘non-winter colours’. “The collection is of the highest standard, with Italian mills Lanificio Guasti – the leading producer of Merino fur – supplying the Merino fur fabric and Zegna Baruffa Lane Borgosesia supplying CASHWOOL yarns to produce the wool jersey garments.” ARTWIZARD head designer Natalia Efremova said that in addition to wool being a high-quality fibre, it was its warmth which made wool so attractive to Russia. “Winter is really long and cold,” explains Ms Efremova. “More and more Russian women want to look good and feel warm during these six months and there are an increasing number of women who are choosing not to buy real fur. “As a designer I would like to take the time to thank AWI for the chance to create a collection made from Australian Merino wool – the best wool in the world. I discovered unlimited possibilities of wool and would happily use it in a variety of formats, including wool fur. I’m also grateful for the opportunities to work with iconic Italian mills Lanifico Guasti and Zegna Baruffa.” Another key Russian company to join the Woolmark licensing program is Russia’s largest hand-knitting yarn company, Pekhorskiy Textile and its Pekhorka brand. Opportunities for hand knitting in Russia are extremely large, particularly due to geographical distances. “A lot of people knit in Russia,” says Mr Jackson. “When it’s sub-zero temperatures outside and you are thousands of kilometers away from a major city, hand-made Merino wool garments are a natural choice.” Pekhorskiy Textile has worked alongside AWI to develop a new range of machine- washable hand-kitting yarns specifically for baby and childrenswear. “Pekhorskiy Textile, together with AWI, has started a successful partnership and is now using high-quality Australian wool for yarn manufacturing,” explains Pekhorskiy Textile owner and CEO Elisaveta Tereshkina. “The first joint project was the creation of a new yarn style called Tender Childhood, made from 100 per cent Australian Merino wool, with an anti-pilling superwash finishing. A new collection, comprising 10 children’s colours, has also been created in pastel shades.” WITH WOOL Owner and CEO of Pekhorskiy Textile Elisaveta Tereshkina with a ball of her machine-washable hand-kitting yarn made from Australian wool. Merino fur is made from 100 per cent Merino wool backed by a 100 per cent Merino woven fabric. • Since AWI launched its ‘To Russia with Wool’ project in 2011, seven Woolmark licensees have joined from Russia. • One of the latest companies to join is ARTWIZARD, which is specialising in Merino ‘fur coats’. • Russia’s largest hand-kitting company Pekhorskiy Textile has also become a Woolmark licensee, developing a new range of machine-washable hand-kitting yarns specifically for baby and childrenswear. TO RUSSIA