This project will provide Australian sheep breeders and apparel wool processors with practical and cost-effective tools, specifications and processes that are required to improve the whiteness and photo-stability of garments made from Australian wool.
To enable Australian Merino wool to gain access to new growth markets in next-to-skin knitwear and sportswear and to compete with cotton and synthetics, significant improvements in its colour and photostability attributes are required. The project is well on the way to achieving this by a combination of three stages:-
1. Use of clean wool colour specification to select the whitest fleece wools available.
2. Optimisation of the processing route to avoid stages that cause yellowing, in particular shrink-resist treatment, and maintaining or improving whiteness at each stage.
3. Application of a UV absorber to improve wool photostability during exposure to sunlight but without impacting on initial whiteness or handle.
This approach has been technically validated in a commercial two-bale trial. The commercial impact will be through allowing knitwear manufacturers to use superfine Merino wool as an alternative fibre to cotton and synthetics in their bright white and pastel shade products. Wool has many superior attributes such as warmth, moisture management and shape retention that already appeal to consumers. Together with the improvements in comfort and handle specification taking place in related projects, one would expect to generate increased demand for finer wools (<19 microns) in the next-to-skin market. These next-to-skin wool products provide a high return for the amount of wool used, with garments weighing less than 200 grams selling for more than A$100.
This project will deliver a know-how package to both breeders and processors to improve their ability to enhance the whiteness and photostability of garments made from Australian wool. One aim is to produce Merino wool knitwear in bright whites and pastel shades. In so doing, a major competitive disadvantage of wool in trans-seasonal apparel markets will be addressed.
Download the Wool Program brochures below.