A NEW wool sourcing tool completely dedicated to sport, emphasising the fibre’s benefits and unique technical performances, has been launched by Australian Wool Innovation.
AWI said the Wool Lab Sport “connects designers with manufacturers through technical skills, know-how and passion, highlighting the natural benefits that make wool the ultimate performance fibre”.
Wool Lab Sport was launched at the recent ISPO trade fair in Germany, where AWI sports and outdoor manager Lars Ulvesund said the ability of Merino wool to combine comfort and flexibility with performance benefits such as moisture management and odour resistance continue to place is as an ideal part of any brand offering.
“From our point of view, this year’s ISPO was the best one yet.
“We had a constant flow of designers and developers coming to the AWI stand seeking our advice and assistance in incorporating or extending their product ranges with Merino wool,” Mr Ulvesund said.
“The Wool Lab Sport proved to be an important tool that we could provide.”
AWI said the global trend of combining sporting and leisurewear is working in Merino wool’s favour with the natural fibre creating new business at major international trade fairs.
At the ISPO trade fair and the Outdoor Retailer fair in the United States recently, enquiries about Merino wool were significantly higher than in previous years. Merino wool is in demand as the ultimate base-layer, mid-layer and outer-layer garment for the sports/outdoor sector and the increasing ‘athleisure’ market, AWI said.
The Merino Company chief executive officer Andy Wynne said Merino wool is well placed to cater to this growing market.
“People want to wear performance-looking Merino wool product to a barbecue or out for a coffee, but not necessarily run or exercise in it.
“There’s a really exciting shift in consumer behaviour, he said.
“Historically we’d been mainly a winter producer, but we are seeing a shift in people in the cycling and running sectors – in high-end performance wear areas – where people are moving into Merino wool because of its natural characteristics and our ability to produce lighter weight Nuyarn fabrics.”
Global Merino recently introduced a group of lightweight laminates without membranes, starting at 175 grams per square metre, in response to catering for high aerobic athletic categories, such as running.
Global Merino president Jose Fernandez said in the past few years the company has been able to do things with construction – with weights and blends.
“Whereas 10 years ago we were trying to sell 100pc Merino to the runner, but we couldn’t get things light enough.
“I think the category will continue to evolve. If we find new and different ways to use wool as a technology, we’ll be able to expand markets and find new categories,” he said.