Nanshan discovers superfine Australian Merino wool

21 March 2016

As one of the giants of the Chinese wool textile industry, it is somewhat surprising the fully vertically integrated Nanshan Group has to date used comparatively little superfine wool. That is about to change and a recent visit by Nanshan’s top brass confirms the company’s interest in the superfine end of the clip.


The new President of the Australian Superfine Wool Growers' Association, Simon Cameron with the Head of Fabric Design & Product Development at Nanshan, Liu Gangzhang; Early Stage Processing Manager at Nanshan, Wang Sheng; The Woolmark Company General Manager of Product Development, Jimmy Jackson; and General Manager Manufacturing at Nanshan, Cao Yiro.

Nanshan, one of China’s leading textile enterprises, is keen to diversify its product range and develop a series of products using superfine wool in womenswear, particularly accessories such as scarves.

The development in part stems from a stagnation in the demand for traditional men’s suiting due to the global trend of casualization as well as an easing in general economic activity in key northern hemisphere markets.

“Like all businesses we must continue to look for new opportunities and new textile innovations; this way we broaden the market,” said Nanshan Fabric and Garment General Director, Cao Yiru, during a trip late last year to Australia.

For Mr Yiru and his chief designer it was the first time to Australia and so The Woolmark Company took the opportunity to introduce the senior Nanshan personnel to a number of superfine woolgrowers as well as show them the wool auctions in Melbourne.

“This visit helps us understand the upstream production, how farms are managed and the history behind the fibre,” Mr Yiru said.

The Woolmark Company has developed a long-standing relationship with Nanshan over the years - a close co-operation that resulted in the establishment of the Wool Development Centre and the International Wool Education Centre at Nanshan in Shandong Provence, China. Both are helping drive the expansion of the Chinese wool textile industry and the consumption of Australian Merino wool.

The joint initiatives have fostered new fabric innovations - such as the premium and innovative NEULANA fabric collection made from Merino wool, launched in October last year - and with regular teaching courses for students there is a new generation of new wool textile specialists being created at Nanshan.

Tasmania was a natural place for the Nanshan visitors to visit and although suffering through one of the worst dry spells in living memory, the Tasmanian superfine industry welcomed Nanshan with open arms.

One of the properties visited was ‘Kingston’, near Campbell Town, owned by President of the Australian Superfine Wool Growers' 
Association (ASWGA), Simon Cameron.

“Like all woolgrowers we are very proud of our part of Australia,” Simon said. “Properties like ‘Kingston’ have a great story to tell when it comes to traditional superfine wool production and here it is integrated with managing the farm’s natural values. It is an important message for visitors such as the Nanshan team to understand.

“New demand from the likes of Nanshan and new product ranges such as those seen in the sports and active outdoor market are helping to introduce more consumers to superfine wool. These increasing opportunities will reduce our reliance on the men’s suiting market.”