18 Oct 2018

Marks & Spencer weave NZ's troubled wool into new line

8:53 pm on 18 October 2018

New Zealand's troubled coarse wool industry could benefit from a new line in sustainable clothing at British retail giant Marks & Spencer.


Coarse wool has been struggling to earn its keep for years. Photo: 123rf

Six lines of men's blazers have gone on sale at stores throughout Britain, made with New Zealand product.

Coarse wool has been struggling to earn its keep for years, with greater volumes having to be put onto the market in an often unsuccessful attempt to make up for falling prices.

Only fine fibre from breeds such as merino have helped the wool sector to prosper overall.

Some farmers have complained that it is uneconomic even to shear their sheep.

But Wools of New Zealand said one trick was to shear sheep when they were still young lambs, and their wool was naturally finer anyway.

Another trick was to take advantage of a worldwide desire for environmentally sustainable products.

Wools of New Zealand chief executive Rosstan Mazey said this country could benefit from Marks & Spencer's adoption of a global Responsible Wool Standard certification.

"[The certification] is about providing more assurance through to the consumer about the way the wool has been grown and harvested," Mr Mazey said.

"It has been ethical, there have been good practices on the farms and good animal husbandry.

"Globally we are starting to see more interest in the way that things have been grown and taken to market, so this is a good way for us to bolster our offering."

Mr Mazey said the wool in question was in the 28-31 micron range, more traditionally used in the production of interior textiles, so using it for clothing was a big step forward.

It was being manufactured into cloth in Yorkshire and sewn into clothing in Vietnam.

The Responsible Wool Standard certification has been welcomed as a valuable marketing device by Marks and Spencer management as well as by Wools of New Zealand.

Rosstan Mazey said there were currently 14 grower shareholders accredited under the scheme in both the North and South Islands.

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