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Special Feature | May 2016

New wool fabrics, thanks to Woolmark

Wool is playing a new pretty cool role, thanks to renewed efforts by the Woolmark Company, which is spearheading a campaign to infuse new life into the consumption of wool in India. The image of wool is changing, and today is no longer associated only with its warmth for the cold winter, but also as a natural fibre fit for a tropical country like ours. Arti Gudal, Country Manager-India, the Woolmark Company, is young and energetic and along with an enthusiastic team, is bent on making wool more popular as ingredient for various fabrics and blends.

“The Woolmark logo conceptualised in 1964, was initialised owned by five countries. In 2009, Australia and Wool Innovation took over it. Now it belongs totally to Australia with about 27,000 wool-growers paying levy to promote Australian wool. This is supported by the Australian Government. The logo is used to authentic apt use of the Australian wool. The funds are used for a lot of research and make the wool acceptable in many countries,” Gudal told the Editor of The Indian Textile Journal, during an informal chat with her recently in Mumbai.

Wool is not just for winterwear, but can be used in a variety of applications for the good of humanity since it is a very natural fibre. Gudal is pretty clear about the mission to spread this awareness in India. “Cool Wool is the concept, and today circular knitting and even in flat knitting, wool is widely used. Wool ranging from 13 to 18 microns are very soft, and today t-shirts are made from this kind of wool, emerging as a suitable fibre. Wool Gets Casual is the theme for this campaign. In this even blends with other natural fibres are possible,” said Gudal.

For the Cool Wool, it should 50 per cent wool and the rest any natural fibre. Or it can be even 100 per cent wool. “Today, wool is used even in denim segment. Blending wool in denim gives a natural glow and feel to the garments. When making jeans, usually wool is used in the warp. The advantage of wool is that it is naturally elastic and so you need not add any spandex-like elements into the final product. Luxurious feel and a nice sheen are the other properties infused into the product by addition of wool. Levi’s in the US has already successfully done this, and in India Levi’s and Raymond are planning to use more wool in their innovative fabrics,” said Gudal.

“Woolmark Company’s major thrust today is to increase consumption, and not to increase mere licensees,” Gudal categorically said. One of the Woolmark’s successful launches in its promotion of wool is The Wool Lab, which presents inspirational themes to inspire and influence trends, connecting designers with manufacturers through technical skills, know-how and passion. The Wool Lab is an innovative seasonal guide to the best wool fabrics and yarns in the world. It showcases real samples of commercially available fabrics aligned to the season’s macro-themes. The Wool Lab is created twice a year by The Woolmark Company to inspire and inform the textile industry, fashion professionals and retailers about the vast potential of Merino wool.

The Wool Lab is both a book providing inspirational themes and a sourcing guide. It is the result of extensive research undertaken by The Woolmark Company’s global network to select and showcase the best wool fabrics and yarns worldwide, and identify the emerging themes from fashion and other fields. It aims to inspire and influence emerging fashion trends.

Each edition of The Wool Lab includes swatches, mood boards, colour cards and presentations that tell a story for each of the themes and encourage brands and retailers to view and source wool as a premium fibre. There are Autumn/Winter and Spring/Summer editions each year. It was first launched in June 2011 for the Autumn/Winter 2012/13 season, with the first Spring/Summer 2013 edition released in January of 2012.

It is an important tool for designers and brands as it helps them in sourcing and in finding new opportunities. More than 100 of the world’s best spinners and weavers are involved in The Wool Lab, and it has generated more than 10,000 requests for swatches. The Wool Lab is created each season by The Woolmark Company in collaboration with the Riccardo Rami Studio based in Florence, Italy. The Wool Lab is presented and available for consulting in 13 countries across the world. Viewing of The Wool Lab is available free of charge and upon request.

Another drive is No Finer Feeling initiative, which involves The Woolmark Company strengthening its partnerships with well-known designers and fashion houses and supply chain contributors and promoting Merino wool fashion apparel across the world through numerous high-profile activities – from traditional events and advertising, to dramatic reach via digital and social media interaction.

No Finer Feeling places a major focus on the story of the Merino wool fibre and commercial product by leading fashion apparel brands. Partnerships with well-known designers and fashion houses were strengthened and brand endorsements of the campaign have provided real penetration in fashion markets.

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