AT A footwear stand in one of the countless rows of leisure goods at the Outdoor Retailer expo in Salt Lake City, a bold sign lists Merino wool as a high performance fibre.
Three stalls down an American cycling clothes brand also has the words Merino and wool splashed amongst its promotional material.
And one outdoor clothing brand, not to be outdone, has a full list of the characteristics of wool next to racks of thermal clothing.
As Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) continues to try and push into the outdoor and leisure market with next-to-skin wear fabric, AWI’s global manager sports/outdoor Lars Ulvesund paints a promising future.
“We are all pleasantly amazed the trend (for wool) is so strong,” Mr Ulvesund said two days after the global winter exhibition had finished.
“The interest for wool here started to be significant three to four years ago and its still growing.
“We are now seeing brands promoting wool and people are starting to understand the properties of wool.
“There is an increased understanding and knowledge of how suitable wool is for sports and all the performance qualities it has.”
Mr Ulvesund said convincing consumers that wool is the ideal fibre for outdoor or sports had been, and continued to challenge, as a mind shift was required.
“There has been little knowledge about wool and people have been reluctant or afraid to use wool,” Mr Ulvesund said.
By using trade shows as a platform to educate designers and buyers, and actively targeting three specific markets (golf, bike wear and outdoor), Mr Ulvestone said wool's unique capabilities was getting out.
“In the past they didn’t even know how to get wool.”
At the Salt Lake City Outdoor retail event Merino Perform – a range of Merino performance next-to-skin wear fabrics made from Australian 17-19 micron fleece wool- attracted a steady stream of interest.
“Last year seemed to be about making an impression, but this year there has been more orders and sampling.”
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