Rural wool fashion event WoolOn celebrates high-end design

Take off the Swanndris and pack away the moleskins - there's a new breed of fashion in the paddocks.

Central Otago is preparing to celebrate high fashion on the farm with an event that's proudly rural.

WoolOn is Central Otago's annual showcase to the fibre, culminating in a high-end fashion show in an Alexandra warehouse next Friday night.

Tania Irons signed up as a novice designer after being blown away by last year's show.

"There's no space for Grandma's knitted jumpers, no," she says. "Amazing designers from all over the country enter Woolon, and luckily there's enough categories for everyone to have a go."

Her design is strictly under wraps while judging's underway, but was inspired by the colours of the landscape following last summer's drought.

"My entry celebrates that transformation of the land," she says.

The Otago fashion event has been around in various forms since the 1960s. Third-time judge Simon Swale is excited to see the different ways designers are using wool. He says wool is experiencing something of a resurgence, as a trendy alternative to synthetic fibres.

"People now appreciate its qualities, its durability, warmth aspects," he tells Newshub.

Wool has been one of the backbones of our economy for well over a century, and now there's a push to encourage Kiwis back into knitting.

New Zealand now has six sheep for every person living in the country, but the art of knitting has largely fallen out of favour with Kiwis.

"You'd think New Zealand as the home of sheep - we should have our own style of knitting," Ms Irons says.

That's exactly what she's been developing with veteran designer Daphne Randle - a fresh, simple technique producing quality knitted creations.

They're keen to see what others have come up at wool's big catwalk show.