Hong Kong designers inspired by wool

17 November 2015

Five emerging fashion designers from Hong Kong visited Australia in August to learn first-hand about the wool production process and be inspired to continue using Merino wool in their designs.

A delegation of award-winning young fashion designers from Hong Kong’s leading tertiary organisations visited Australia in August to learn about the origins of Australian Merino wool and experience the Australian wool industry first-hand.

The trip was also an opportunity for Australian woolgrowers to hear the designers’ thoughts about working with wool and the key market of Hong Kong.

The five students were all recipients of awards from various fashion competitions at institutions including the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (HKPU), the Hong Kong Design Institute (HKDI) and the Knitwear Innovation and Design Society (KIDS). Four of the awards were sponsored by The Woolmark Company, with the other sponsored by the Flinders Merino woolgrowing group of South Australia.

The five visiting students from Hong Kong showcasing their award-winning designs at RMIT University’s School of Fashion and Textiles in Melbourne.

The Woolmark Company sponsors these fashion design awards to promote the benefits of Australian Merino wool to the next generation in a region crucial to global textiles and fashion. As one of the world’s major knitwear exporters, Hong Kong is the gateway for southern and eastern Chinese wool processors and manufacturers, as well as a global hub for sourcing wool garments for major international brands.

This is the seventh year AWI has welcomed a group of Hong Kong designers to experience Australia’s wool industry from farm to fashion.

While in Melbourne, the students visited the School of Fashion and Textiles at RMIT University, the Textile and Fashion Hub at the Council of Textile and Fashion Industries of Australia, the Australian Wool Testing Authority, and AWEX where they viewed the wool auctions. In Geelong, they visited EMU Australia and the National Wool Museum. In Adelaide, they visited G.H. Michell and the School of Fashion Design at Adelaide TAFE.

During a five-day visit to the woolgrowing properties of Flinders Merino, the delegation developed a greater appreciation for the farm to fashion journey and drew inspiration from the natural and beautiful environment where Australian Merino sheep are reared. The designers also got to try their hand at shearing and feeding sheep - work which they are so far removed from when in Hong Kong.

The designers said they were inspired by the various visits and hadn’t previously realised how much effort was put into the production of wool.

“Through this trip we have learnt more than we ever could have done in Hong Kong about the production of Merino wool and the advances made by the Australian wool industry,” said Sky Wong from HKDI. “I now understand that the industry is strongly conscientious at producing quality wool in a sustainable manner. When designing wool clothes in future I will always remember and appreciate the hard work undertaken by the woolgrowers.”

Christy Lee, also from HKDI, said: “This wonderful experience not only offered me an insight into the Australian wool industry, it has inspired me to continue using wool in my designs. I will never forget the hospitality that we received at all the places we visited and especially by the Flinders Merino woolgrowers and thank you to The Woolmark Company for its sponsorship.”

Polly Chan from KIDS added: “As a designer, we always dream that we can show our designs to people from overseas and I think we got a lot of appreciation for them from the design schools and the woolgrowers that we visited. We learnt so much about wool – a lot more than we expected. Thank you for an amazing trip.”

The other two students on the trip were Victor Chu and Jan Kwok from HKPU. The delegation was guided on the trip by the The Woolmark Company Hong Kong office training manager Cindy Chee.