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Fashion trends in China renew interest in broad wool types

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Once a sideline part of the wool industry, cardings have now become the unsung hero of the wool market. Cardings are made up of the wool from the bellies and other parts of the sheep that don’t make the fleece lines.

Demand for heavy jackets and coats in China has led to strong returns for Australian wool growers.

Robert Herman, managing director of Mercado Market Insights, said the demand for cardings was underpinning the entire Australian wool market. “In this case the most significant driver is this demand for double-faced woollen fabric, which has come and gone in the past, but it’s really started to find a home on the retail shelves in China,” he said.

“First of all it started in the high end market and then started to show up in the cheaper lines and it’s just something that people seem to like.

“This fabric is not only made out of cardings but also crossbred wool, which has also had a terrific run [this year].

“So it’s a direct connection between the price that’s being paid and the appetite that exporters have for that type of wool.”

“While it’s a good market signal, I think with fashion though, fashion comes and goes, we don’t think this is changing in a hurry but it will change over time.”

As northern hemisphere fashion houses make their decisions for 2016, the future appears bright for cardings according to Mr Hermann.

“We thought this run was coming to an end but it’s resurrected back over 1,100 cents at a time when the new fashion decisions are being made in the northern hemisphere” he said.

“So it looks to us like it’s got another season to run at least.”

There is potential that the trend could have a broad impact of the way consumers feel about buying wool.

“It can make people more aware about the intrinsic value of wool, more people wearing wool for whatever reason is good, if it’s just because they are following fashion, it doesn’t matter,” Mr Hermann said.

In the past the cardings indicator has tagged along with the fleece lines but this year that trend has reversed.

“What we’re seeing now is that this strong resilience of the cardings indicator is really putting a strong floor under the rest of the market,” Mr Hermann said.

“Even though we like to see the rest of the market have the same types of rallies, it’s not understated to say that the demand for cardings is underpinning the whole wool market at the moment.”

Source: ABC Rural

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