Big brands take on Merino wool in America

Well known fashion brands invest in Australian Merino wool

Wool
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Big fashion brands invest in Australian Merino wool.

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Woolmark's Head of Americas, Michelle Lee.

Woolmark's Head of Americas, Michelle Lee.

As the world begins to emerge from the darkness of the global pandemic, the future of Merino wool in America looks to be brightening.

According to Woolmark's Head of Americas, Michelle Lee, well-known brands are putting their confidence in Merino wool, signalling opportunity for our woolgrowers.

In 2019 representatives from mid and high-end fashion labels Gap and Lululemon travelled to Australia to visit and learn from woolgrowers.

Miss Lee said it provided an important perspective of the woolgrower and education about the fibre.

"It showed how passionate they are about what they do, and how much work actually goes in providing their brands with the wool," Ms Lee said.

"Before they came to Australia they were thinking about the whole animal welfare issue.

"They had a certain understanding about what animal welfare issues our growers face, but I think they didn't realise the different pain relief options that were offered and the amount of research and effort that goes into preventing flystrike and how much the growers care for their flock and how important it is for them.

"Those brand visits meant they got a better understanding of the animal welfare issue."

Since then Lululemon have gone from using no wool to purchasing and using 30,000 units last season.

"As they focus on issues of sustainability and quality they continue to look to us and continue to work with us," Ms Lee said.

"Lululemon is really one of those brands that is outperforming a lot of the other brands.

"Their online sales were up 157 per cent last month. They are an important player."

The Gap brand, according to Ms Lee, are focussed on improving quality and place a huge importance on sustainability.

And because of that visit, because of the growers helping to educate them, it shifted their perspective and understanding of Merino wool.

"Lululemon is proving to be a bright spot in an apparel industry that has been pummelled by this pandemic," she said.

"They are aiming to open 30-35 new locations this fiscal year. The athleisure market is going strong because everyone is focused on basics and focused on wearing casual during their Zoom calls.

"The outdoor sport and outdoor market they are going to recover a lot better than other players in the market. The outdoor recreation economy generates $887 billion spending.

"Because of social distancing everyone's outdoors, the opportunity in the outdoor sports industry for wool will continue to increase for us."

A pivotal move made by Woolmark during the pandemic was focussing on key players in the fashion industry, those who have not only remained strong, but grown.

"Not only those players that are financially stable, but also have volume and influence," Ms Lee said.

"Digital first brands and retailers are doing better than ever. Mass retailers like Costco, Amazon and Target all posted record second quarter sales.

"So we have focused on those companies for opportunities for our growers."

A new fibre advocacy campaign is about to be launched called, 'Feel Merino', which is a sales driving partnership with Amazon, the biggest and most powerful retailer in North America.

The story Big brands take on Merino wool in America first appeared on Farm Online.

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