FLEECE wools are again becoming the hero of the Australian wool market as a new fabric trend hits the show floor and drives demand for medium micron wool.
One of the major trends to hit the international runways recently is a new fur-like fabric which resembles the inside of an ugg boot.
The new trend is overtaking the double-faced woollen fabric craze which drove record prices paid for carding wools since March 2015.
The fabric is having an influential effect on the Australian wool market with strengthening prices paid for 19 to 21 Micron Price Guides this season.
It is made from about 70 per cent Merino wool with the remainder crossbred, and weighs about 970 grams per square metre.
Techwool Trading export manager Josh Lamb said the northern hemisphere’s winter was driving demand for 25 to 27 micron wool this season.
Demand for these fur-like coats and heavy skirts in China has led the strong demand for broad wool.
The fabric is manufactured using a variety of greasy wool from 19.5m to 27m, with the bulk of the fabric made of 21-22m.
A portion of comeback and crossbred wool is used for weight, to reduce cost and to make the fabric “stand-up” once it is processed.
“Demand for Merino wool was traditionally worsted fabrics but we’re now seeing blends and new products being developed which is where the future of the industry is going,” Mr Lamb said.
“Worsted fabric consumes the majority of merino fleece wool but it is not what drives the prices of wool.
“We need new products like this to come along and give the market a new impetuous, that’s what is driving the market in recent years.”
He said the fabric had in parts replaced the double-faced woollen fabric coats which had resulted in a decline for carding wool.
Since peaking at 1156 cents per kilogram in January - on the back of the subdued US dollar - the carding market has softened 26c/kg this season.
“Double-faced fabrics haven’t disappeared but they have cooled off,” Mr Lamb said.
“There is an overhang of wool product and fabric in the market that is soaking up the remainder of demand for double-faced fabrics.”
Traditionally trends last for three year cycles, however the growth of fast-fashion has seen trends be turned-over within 18 months.
Mr Lamb said double-faced fabric did not last for a “normal fashion cycle”, stymied by competition from cheaper, inferior fabrics.
“With orders currently in the market for Chinese Government railway uniforms concentrating on 18.5m, coupled with the fur like fabric growers can expect an optimistic market at least for the medium term,” he said.