Weekly Times | Brian Clancy September 5 2011
WOOL is helping a leading American outdoor apparel retailer defy the downturn in the US economy.
“The downturn has affected all apparel retailers, although outdoor sales are less affected,” said Todd Copeland, of Californian outdoor and sportswear retailer Patagonia.
“With the downturn, we are finding customers are looking to make a better purchase.”
Mr Copeland has been visiting Australia to learn about the wool industry and to explain Patagonia’s business and its use of wool.
“We use all four fibres – cotton, polyester, wool and nylon. Wool is about a third of our business by volume, but wool is up there at the top for garment value,” he says.
Patagonia’s apparel appeals to a customer base that is attracted to a range of outdoor pursuits – skiing, walking, mountain climbing, bike riding, and surfing – and also has an affinity with environmental issues.
Patagonia uses wool from unmulesed Merinos, and uses chlorine-free processes. To ensure its wools and other fibres adhere to specifications, the company has supply arrangement and traceability systems back to the raw product’s source.
For its Australian wool, Patagonia uses e-wool’s New Merino supply arrangements. E-wool assembles the wool and organises its sale and processing right through to the fabric stage.
Mr Copeland said e-wool provided the traceability that his company needed to keep faith with its customers.
E-wool manager Peter Vandeleur said Patagonia’s business involved 334 bales of an average 18.9 micron from about 14 clips off unmulesed flocks. This wool is used in Patagonia’s latest range of T-shirts, which are made from an 80 per cent wool and 20 per cent polyester jersey knit.
Patagonia’s range, including the T-shirts, is now available at Torquay.