Apparel brand Toorallie uses 100 per cent Australian Merino wool in its apparel.
Managing Director Steve Smith says the growth in sales is attributable to the company’s focus on making apparel using Merino fibre as the predominant fibre and occasionally blending it with other complementary natural fibres to ensure the best fabric is developed for its application.
“Our hero is Merino wool and we want Toorallie to be synonymous with Merino. Having this clearly portrayed front and centre makes us easy to identify with,” Mr Smith says.
“As well as the many natural benefits of Merino wool, the provenance of the fibre is a great story that we can tell our customers. We have realised that people want to know exactly what they are buying, not just materialistically but its essence and brand ethic. Brand identity is now emphasised, with our story and heritage being added to packaging and store fixtures.”
The unique history of Toorallie began in 1825 when George Garnock migrated from Scotland to Australia where he worked for the MacArthur family. In 1835 he rode south to the Monaro, in south-east NSW, so reminiscent of his native Scotland, and it was here that he embarked on his lifelong quest to produce the finest Merino fleeces in the country.
So enduring were the foundations that George Garnock laid, that his lineage has continued unbroken to this day with the sixth generation continuing his legacy. The Toorallie brand was launched in 1991 by George Garnock's descendants, the Smith family of Bombala. Today, Toorallie produces a diverse range of premium Merino wool apparel for both men and women, from knitwear, socks and scarves through to newly developed Merino Denim jeans.
“Toorallie sources only Australian Merino wool for its garments,” Mr Smith says. “We use ultrafine Merino wool in our next-to-skin wear, and fine-medium Merino wool in our mid and outer layer ranges.
“In sourcing yarns for Toorallie garments, there are several important factors that we consider.
Micron is obviously essential, as customer comfort is paramount, so we source low micron soft-handling yarns. Staple length is also important in reducing fuzziness on the fabric surface and potential pilling. And consistency of supply is vital in producing a reliable quality garment, especially when it consists of a natural fibre such as Merino wool. To ensure we best meet our yarn requirements we source 100 per cent of our knitwear yarns from Woolmark licensee Südwolle.”
Another reason to which Mr Smith attributes the company’s recent success is the launch last July for wholesale indent orders of a brand new product called Merino Denim.
“The concept was to modernise an old fabric that was developed in the ’90s but in recent years has struggled to make an impact into the broader apparel market. It has been a phenomenal success with approximately 80 per cent of stockists ordering for 2013 delivery,” he says.
“In its first year Merino Denim has become our highest selling item. The sophisticated, custom fabric was developed in partnership with The Woolmark Company and a leading Hong Kong denim weaver. The denim incorporates 17 per cent Australian Merino wool into the cotton fabric which makes it super soft on the skin, warm in winter and cool in summer. It has been a real hit. Merino Denim is offered in six colours and several styles for men and women.”
Mr Smith says the future focus for Toorallie is on developing more complementary Merino-based products.
“In the 2014 collection we will be releasing Merino shirting, Merino felt, Merino canvas and Merino chinos to name just a few.
“The company’s ambition is to become the world’s predominant head to toe Merino outfitter.
“Last year we made our first delivery to our new Chinese distributor and we are in the preliminary stages of developing an effective strategy to target the US and UK markets in the next few years. However for the time being we are happy honing our craft to perfection in the local market.”