WOOLMARK PRIZE: Bodice designer Ruchika Sachdeva, Christopher Bevans, DYNE, and Matthew Miller with the collections they won awards for last month. The AWI CEO said there is huge potential for woollen products in the US.

Huge potential in US wool market

ONE of the major projects on the drawing board for Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) and The Woolmark Company (TWC) in 2018 will be the launch of a major northern hemisphere campaign and competition, focusing in particular on USA.

AWI CEO Stuart McCullough said USA was largely underdone, an untapped market offering huge potential for woollen product especially in the leisure wear space.

"American perception is that wool is scratchy and itchy," Mr McCullough said.

"It is our intention to change that perception through a twopronged campaign of fibre awareness direct to the consumer and brand awareness.

"There are about 320 million people in the US, similar to the EU population, but if you compare wool consumption it is about 300 gram/head/year in the US versus 1 kilo/head/year in Europe.”

Mr McCullough said the target audience was the 25 to 35 year old bracket and the message was for natural versus recycled plastic products to wear for sport, outdoor and active leisure wear, now coined athleisure.

"In all our marketing our focus is to create a consumer culture that when they buy they are asking not just for a suit but for a woollen suit or not just for a sports garment but for a woollen sports garment," he said.

He said partnerships with global entities had been a key way for TWC to spread the wool message at comparatively low (subsidised) costs to the organisation and it had recently signed an agreement with Adidas on December 13, last year, to partner in an innovation competition to run in conjunction with the northern hemisphere campaign.

"Adidas is already well invested in wool and its latest shoe range due for release will include one million pieces in wool," Mr McCullough said.

"Woollen sneakers are a major growth area for us, once the upper section of a running shoe or sneaker had to be constructed of about 20 different pieces that were sewn together.

"Now with improved technology in knitting machines shoes can be knitted in a one pass process, making wool a popular and viable fabric option.”

The partnership with Adidas centres on a new annual competition, the Woolmark Performance Challenge.

The focus is on developing innovative product solutions for the performance industry by harnessing the unique natural properties of Australian Merino wool, and will be launched on January 29 at ISPO in Munich, Germany, the world's biggest trade fair for sports and leisure wear.

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