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Potential of USA to lift consumption of wool.

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The Woolmark Company (TWC) has published a report on the potential of USA to lift consumption of wool. In this report TWC ranks the US second on the “country heat map” that lists countries by strategic importance, China being the only country above it.

With a large population of relatively affluent consumers, many of whom live in a cold climate, the US offers an opportunity to lift its wool consumption above the 150 million kgs clean as measured in 2011.

 

The US economic recovery is well under way post the Global Financial Crisis, with The Economist reporting last month that “between 2011 and 2014 only eight countries saw bigger falls in their unemployment rate, according to the International Monetary Fund. At 5.7%, America’s is one of the lowest in the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), a club of (mostly) rich countries. Firms added more than 1 million net new jobs in the three months to January, the best showing since 1997. And things may soon get even better. The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, released on February 10th, showed that by the end of December there were 5 million job openings, the highest level since 2001.

 Economic activity and wool consumption are closely linked. It also shows how relatively low wool consumption is in the U.S given its historically high average income. So an improving economy in the US should be good news for woolgrowers, as long as there are companies willing to stock wool in their range.

For this reason AWI and The Woolmark Company have refocused marketing efforts in the US in recent years, some examples being the opening of a presence in San Francisco to increase the awareness of wool amongst the many sports and active outdoor companies on the west coast. Meanwhile the New York office has made significant headway in connecting with major US manufacturers and retailers looking to stock wool. This is often done through trade shows such as Liberty where initiatives such as The Wool Lab trend books are on display to demonstrate and discuss what is possible with Merino wool.

Influential US fashion blogger Nick Wooster visited Australia late last year and reported on his trip across properties and retailers in Victoria and NSW to his 400,000 followers on social media. His experience and discussion has helped position Merino wool as an aspirational fibre to look for in fashion, casual and denim garments for men.

Interestingly and significantly both the men’s and women’s International Woolmark Prize winners for 2015 come from the US. In recent days New York based designer M.PATMOS won the womenswear design award announced in Beijing, with her designs to be stocked in retailers such as Saks Fifth Avenue as well as David Jones here in Australia in August; whilst in February, US based fashion label PUBLIC SCHOOL won the inaugural men’s event.

 

These significant fashion design awards have a strong retail element as the winning designs are sold in prominent retail partner stores. In fact last year’s IWP winner Rahul Mishra sold out of garments in just three weeks across English department store Harvey Nichols and French clothing and accessory retailer Colette, a feat unheard of for a new designer. Rahul Mishra produces up to 15,000 garments a year and said, “the award helped to put a supply chain in place, exposed me to world class retailers and gave me a position in the industry that would normally have taken eight to 10 years to achieve.”

Having both IWP winners from the U.S in 2015 is timely given the economic recovery occurring in what is a very significant market. We look forward to bringing you more details of success from the US.

 

Source: AWI

 

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