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Recent highlights of student education

AWI continues to foster the education and development of tertiary textile and fashion students – inspiring them in the early stage of their careers about the properties and benefits of Merino wool, and encouraging them to continue to use the fibre in their designs as they progress through their professional lives. Here are a few highlights of AWI’s recent work in this area.

Naturally Inspiring online seminars proves popular

The Woolmark Company’s Naturally Inspiring seminars for tertiary textile and fashion students not only offer them the chance to learn about the natural benefits of wool and the variety of ways to work with the fibre, but also give the students an insight into working in the fashion, textile and retail industries from those in the know. Below is an account of two recent seminars.

UK, Europe and beyond

In May, an online version of the Naturally Inspiring seminar was hosted as a two-part webinar by The Woolmark Company in the UK. Although the online seminar was initially targeted at tertiary students from the UK and Europe, the seminar also proved popular from further afield with students from Australia, Japan, US and Malaysia also tuning in.

Part 1 of the webinar delved into the global wool supply chain, highlighting various product and processing innovations as well as partner fibres and applications for wool.

Part 2 was a discussion with a panel of industry experts to help the students develop their understanding of the career opportunities throughout the global wool supply chain. The panel members were:

  • Professor Sheila-Mary Carruthers – a design-led practitioner supportive of industry projects to raise awareness of wool’s benefits.
  • Eva Monachini – R&D Manager and Coordinator of D-house Urban Laboratory, a development centre in Milan that is partnered with The Woolmark Company.
  • Paolina Russo and Lucile Guilmard – Designers at London-based fashion brand Paolina Russo, a finalist in the 2023 International Woolmark Prize.
  • Mattia Trovato – Head of Communications at leading Italian textile company Manteco.

There were a lot of questions from the audience on subjects such as yarn and fabric sourcing, and how to go about setting up a supply chain as an emerging brand. The Woolmark Company was credited many times, demonstrating its role in facilitating connections across the global fashion and textile industries.

Japan

The Woolmark Company in Japan hosted an online Naturally Inspiring seminar across two days in June, which attracted 370 tertiary students. Sessions presented by The Woolmark Company included ‘Circularity and wool’ during which the sustainability aspects of wool were highlighted, and ‘The wool supply chain in Australia’ that provided attendees with a comprehensive understanding of the source of our nation’s premium wool fibre.

There were also four sessions that featured external guest speakers who delivered inspiring presentations and shared their expertise in the wool industry:

  • Merino wool fabric manufacturer Reda Japan shared its strategic approach to the global market.
  • Apparel company Dot One, which owns the ánuans womenswear brand, provided insights and guidance on selling wool products effectively.
  • Product testing laboratory Keken Test Center discussed the importance of certifications in the wool industry.
  • Care product manufcaturer Lion Chemical provided insights about the proper care for wool items at home.

The Naturally Inspiring seminar provided a platform for industry professionals to gain valuable knowledge and insights from experts in the field. The event was a success in promoting the versatility and sustainability of wool, further establishing its significance in the Japanese market.


Merino wool student eco-showcase in Türkiye

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The Australian Consul General in Türkiye, Tony Huber, at the opening of the exhibition.

Students from Istanbul Bilgi University in Türkiye used Australian Merino wool to create garments for an exhibition to accompany a collection of textile art works of indigenous Australians on show in Istanbul.

The exhibition titled ‘Clothes off the Loom’ was hosted by the Australian Embassy and Consulates in Türkiye in partnership with Istanbul Bilgi University and The Woolmark Company, from 21 June to 8 July.

The exhibition not only drew attention to the versatility of Australian Merino wool in the hands of the creative Turkish students from the university’s Textile and Fashion Design Department, but also showcased the environmental importance of zero/minimal waste during pattern-cutting in the textile and fashion industries.

Wool is the ultimate apparel fibre to fit into a circular model of textile production which minimises waste and pollution. By working with students on initiatives such as ‘Clothes Off the Loom’, AWI helps to educate them about wool’s natural eco-credentials and, increasingly, its suitability and benefits for the circular economy.

The ‘Clothes off the Loom’ exhibition was held in conjunction with a showcase of screen-printed textile art works, titled ‘Jarracharra: Dry Season Winds’, by indigenous artists from Babbarra Women’s Centre in Arnhem Land in Australia’s Northern Territory.

The exhibition brought together a showcase of two icons of Australia: Australian Merino wool and Australian indigenous artwork. But by involving young Turkish design students and Australian Indigenous artists, it also brough together people with different cultural backgrounds that have the same common goal of promoting the value of protecting one’s community, homeland and planet through the responsible use of textiles.


Wool science courses now run in India

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The Woolmark Company’s Wool Education Course Program Manager Dr Allan De Boos teaching students in India.

While courses from The Woolmark Company’s wool science and technology program have been delivered for many years to textile students in China to help ensure that the country’s mills can manufacture quality products made from Australian wool, courses were this year also delivered in three renowned technical institutes in India to encourage educators in India to adopt the resources for face-to-face education about wool processing in the subcontinent.

The course on ‘Wool Dyeing’ was delivered at Institute of Chemical Technology (Mumbai) to around 45 students and staff. The course on ‘Wool Fibre Science’ was delivered at the Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute (VJTI) in Mumbai to around 149 students and staff, and at the Technological Institute of Textiles and Science (TIT&S) in Bhiwani to around 150 students and staff. All courses were well received, and the lectures were recorded at TIT&S and placed on its YouTube channel. The online Woolmark Learning Centre was also promoted in every session so that the students can continue to learn about wool.


Australian Merino wool award at Hong Kong fashion show

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The Woolmark Company’s technical manager in Hong Kong, Brenda Yang (left), presenting the award sponsored by the Flinders Merino Group to winning student Cheng Chau Hung (centre), with a model wearing one of the winning designs (right).

The Flinders Merino Group and The Woolmark Company have once again partnered with Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s (PolyU’s) School of Fashion and Textiles, the region’s most prestigious design school, to showcase Merino wool in contemporary design at its annual graduation fashion show.

At the fashion show in June, The Woolmark Company presented the Flinders Merino Group: Best Use of Australian Merino Wool Award to the winning fashion graduate. The Flinders Merino Group has sponsored the award for 15 years, in support of the PolyU students’ use of wool.

To participate in the award, students needed to complete the Wool Appreciation Course on the Woolmark Learning Centre and their designs must conatin more than 50% wool. The initiative provides the students with a good understanding of Australian Merino wool and contacts within The Woolmark Company. The graduation show itself attracts support from many of the region’s key knitwear and apparel companies.

The wining student, Cheng Chau Hung, weaved all her own fabrics on campus to create her winning collection. Judges scored her highly for her structural woven fabrication, created using wool and wool-blend knitted yarn, which gave her designs a soft touch boosted with the tailored drape properties of woven fabric. The Woolmark Company’s Hong Kong office aims to have further collaboration with her based on this innovative casual tailored wool concept.


Examples of wool education in China

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Wool education courses being run at Institution Marangoni Shanghai (left) and the Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology (right).

The Woolmark Company in China continues to educate fashion and textile students about the natural benefits of Australian wool. Two recent examples include:

  • A series of training courses were held for students from Institution Marangoni Shanghai school of fashion design in April. The sessions provided students with fresh perspectives on wool, particularly functional wool fabrics that sparked their interest.
  • A Wool Appreciation Course was held in June to introduce more than 50 students at the Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology (BIFT) to the diverse range of wool innovations and fabrics as well as the benefits of using the fibre. The students were particularly impressed by wool’s versatility and myriad of applications in fashion design.

 

This article appeared in the September 2023 edition of AWI’s Beyond the Bale magazine. Reproduction of the article is encouraged.