Chinese wool partners mark 50yrs
Chinese consumers are now favouring natural, long-lasting garments. Stuart McCullough
Celebrations are in order for more than 50 years of Australia and Chinese wool trade relations.
This binding partnership has China as the biggest customer of Australian wool, buying up to 80 per cent of its production.
Today, Australia exports 271 million kilograms of the natural, renewable and biodegradable fibre to China, representing a sharp rise from pre-1980 when this figure was less than 10 million kg.
Once a manufacturing hub, China in recent years has also fast become a big consumer of luxury apparel.
The Chinese textile and apparel market is worth a staggering $2.76 billion as part of China’s transformation into a global powerhouse after its decision to open up to the international economy.
With 1.4 billion people driving a new consumer culture and an economy growing at more than 7 per cent annually, China is changing, but what endures is the country’s vast appetite and passion for Australian Merino wool and its deeply committed relationship with Australian woolgrowers.
A delegation of Chinese media, industry and influencers visited Australia in May, not only to experience the origin of this fine fibre but also to celebrate the special bond between the two countries.
Through hosting delegations like these to Australia, The Woolmark Company and Australian Wool Innovation aim to expose emerging consumer markets to Australian wool and broaden consumer choice in innovative wool garments.
In addition, a commemorative book sharing personal stories from industry stalwarts and those shaping its future has been produced.
AWI chief executive Stuart McCullough said China continued to be the single most important buyer of Australian wool.
“I first started travelling to China as a wool trader in the late-1980s and was convinced from an early stage that the Australian wool industry was going to significantly benefit from the processing capacity of China,” he said. “What evolved across the next 30 years exceeded any expectation and China has become not only a processing powerhouse but a consumption giant.”
Mr McCullough said the domestic consumption of our fibre was driven by the emergence of great affluence in China, which would continue to grow.
“Not only have we the perfect processing partner on our doorstep but we also have the perfect consumption partner,” he said.
“With increased affluence and a tendency towards leading healthier lifestyles, discerning Chinese consumers are now favouring natural, long-lasting garments, more so than following the latest trends perpetuated by fast fashion.”
Mr McCullough said as a premium and luxurious natural fibre, Australian Merino wool was one of the most coveted fibres in high fashion in China.
“Until recently, China’s fashion consumption market was dominated by the big luxury brands and their logos, but as a more sophisticated and nuanced Chinese consumer has emerged so, too, have home-grown Chinese designer brands,” he said.
Australian Merino wool is the perfect fibre for the modern Chinese consumer.