Fibre to fashion on show for emerging designers

31 October 2012


Six emerging designers from Hong Kong visiting Woolmark licensee EMU Australia
Six emerging designers from Hong Kong visited Australia to learn about the production pipeline. Here they are pictured visiting Woolmark licensee EMU Australia.

“Knowing more knowledge of wool can push me and inspire me to design more garments using wool and use the fibre in a different way.”

That’s the claim from Hong Kong Polytechnic University young designer Key Chow, who along with five other emerging designers visited Australia in September to learn more about the wool production pipeline and be encouraged to work with wool.

Mr Chow was awarded the Australia Study Tour scholarship – sponsored by Flinders Merino – whilst the other designers – Yuliya Nip, Tak Shing, Loanna Lo, Grace Fung and Venus Lo – won awards sponsored by The Woolmark Company.

“I’m very impressed with the wool industry in Australia,” Mr Chow said. “The knowledge of wool can inspire me to do a design that is more creative and innovative. In fashion it is very important to be outstanding: using good, quality wool in my designs can add value on my design directly.”

Hailing from Hong Kong, the group visited South Australia’s Flinders Ranges for a closer look at the source of the Merino wool they use in so many of their designs.

“The scholarship came about six years ago after we visited Hong Kong Polytechnic University and saw that not very many students were working with wool,” Geoff Power from Flinders Merino said.

“It’s wonderful to be part of the great story the Australian wool industry has to tell.”

Young designers such as this group are the future of the fashion, and so the trip provides a platform for woolgrowers to relate to this generation and to those who will have a great influence on the fashion industry. Similarly, it allows the designers to gain a greater understanding of what happens on a wool farm and how the fibre is grown, offering a fresh approach and appreciation of Australian landscapes and lifestyles and make a connection with woolgrowers.

It was the first time the designers had seen Merino sheep in their natural habitat. Flinders Merino not only provided the young designers with intimate knowledge of how the fibre is produced, but also offered genuine hospitality and a glimpse into the life of Australian woolgrowers.

The young designers also had the opportunity to visit Michell – one of the largest exporters of Australian wool and the largest carboniser of wool in the world. They learnt how wool gets from the sheep’s back to the mill along with other interesting wool technicalities.

The designers’ tour also included visits to AWEX and AWTA to offer education about the pre-export process; RMIT University’s School of Fashion and Textiles to showcase their work to Australian designers and exchange ideas from a professional perspective; EMU Australia to understand the quality of wool and sheepskin used; and the National Wool Museum to learn the history of the wool industry.

The tour helps quench the thirst for knowledge that many international designers have. Spending time and effort on both education and promotion will see the wool industry reap rewards in the future.

By sponsoring scholarships and study tours in Hong Kong, The Woolmark Company aims to raise awareness of the natural benefits of Australian Merino wool among the young generation of design talent in this important location. Hong Kong is one of the world’s major knitwear exporters. As the gateway for southern and eastern Chinese wool processors and manufacturers, it is a global hub for sourcing wool garments particularly for the major US and European brands.