An ethically driven New Zealand wool initiative is celebrating a major breakthrough, with UK retail giant Marks & Spencer (M&S) using the wool for a new menswear range.
The range of men's blazers and waistcoats feature lambswool certified under the global Responsible Wool Standard (RWS).
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Rosstan Mazey, Chief Executive of Wools of New Zealand said the wool is in the 28-31 micron range, more traditionally used in the production of interior textiles.
"It’s a big step for crossbred wool and it’s tremendously exciting to see our wool moving into high end attire," he said.
"It also validates our ongoing investment in the technologies and assurance programmes that allowed this to happen."
The clothing fabric is manufactured by Abraham Moon & Sons, renowned for creating exceptionally high quality textiles out of their world class mill in Yorkshire. The menswear itself is being manufactured in Vietnam.
Mr Mazey said the launch reflects the increasing importance that retailers are placing on developing truly sustainable products, underpinned by ethical land management and animal welfare practices by farmers.
"We are delighted to have a played a significant role in its development along with the Textile Exchange and many other committed partners," he said.
"Transparent sourcing shows a clear commitment to supporting progressive standards of animal welfare, grassland management and traceability across the wool sector, which we know is very important to our customers," said Mr Townsend.
There are currently 14 grower shareholders accredited under the RWS, across both North and South Islands.
New Zealand Wool is anticipating increased interest after the the launch of the new range and expects more growers to become RWS certified as market demand builds.”