It’s time to pull out your winter woollies because this week is Wool Week!
Everyone, including the woolgrowers, iconic fashion brands and everyday consumers are this week celebrating one of Australia’s most important fashion exports – Merino wool.
To mark Wool Week, this year The Woolmark Company partnered with department store giant David Jones to develop a campaign that champions the best wool and wool-rich apparel and textiles just in time for winter.
Did you know Australia produces 90% of the world’s fine wool for apparel, essentially supplying the fibre to the entire global fashion industry?
From traditional tailoring to luxury womenswear, innovative activewear and even footwear, the Australian wool industry plays an integral role in shaping the global fashion landscape.
Benefits of wool
Australian Merino wool is 100 per cent natural, renewable and biodegradable and is famous around the world for its next-to-skin softness, strength, versatility and technical benefits.
Wool is grown year-round by Australia’s 71 million sheep by using a simple blend of only water, air, sunshine and grass.
Wool is 100% biodegradable. When a wool fibre is disposed of it will naturally decompose in soil in a matter of years, slowly releasing valuable nutrients back into the earth.
Wool is also also regenerative. Each year Australian sheep produce a new fleece, making wool a completely renewable fibre.
The natural fibre is one of the most breathable on the market. Wool can absorb large quantities of moisture (aka sweat!) and move it away from the body quickly.
The wool fibre is like a coiled spring that returns to its natural shape after being bent, making it wrinkle resistant.
Today, woolgrowers are justifiably proud that Australia has the world’s most advanced wool industry.
No other country has such an efficient, transparent and highly developed wool marketing system; a trained and registered workforce of more than 17,000 wool-classers, and objective laboratory test results for almost every bale of Merino wool exported.
Most farms in Australia continue to be family owned and operated, and many rural and regional districts rely heavily on the wool industry.
Woolgrower John Wallace runs a mixed farming enterprise across 8000 hectares of land north-east of Esperance in Western Australia.
John and his brother inherited the property and currently manage 5000 sheep. John is looking to soon increase this with the addition of another 1000 head. He also has substantial crops on his farm including canola, wheat and barley.
This mixed farming approach allows for risk mitigation in case something goes wrong, as indeed “you can’t control the weather”, and allows John to manage an equilibrium across the complex landscape.
John has found ways to not only make the most of what he’s got, but continually improve the productivity of the farmland and reconcile the faults of past generations.
Dave Vandenberghe is also a woolgrower near Esperance and owns and runs a 5500 hectare woolgrowing property with 7000 Merino sheep.
He produces wool averaging 18 micron that’s used in next-to-skin apparel and fine tailoring. However it’s the behind-the-scenes work in producing this premium fibre which makes the final product even more remarkable.
“We have the best wool in the world,” he said.
“As a custodian of the land I want to improve it for future generations. We’re in the spotlight of the world, and we need to put our best foot forward.”