We share growers' pain over wool price fall and drought, says IWTO

IWTO urges wool processors and retailers to understand plight of Australian growers

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Luxury retailers selling premium woollen clothing are also feelingthe pinch, says IWTO.

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END FOR FASHION ICON?: Luxury American fashion retail chain, Barneys New York, has gone into bankruptcy adding to the bleak picture for retailers of high-quality woollen garments.

END FOR FASHION ICON?: Luxury American fashion retail chain, Barneys New York, has gone into bankruptcy adding to the bleak picture for retailers of high-quality woollen garments.

Australian growers and Chinese mills aren't the only ones doing it tough in wool's supply and retail chain.

Iconic American luxury fashion chain, Barneys New York, has filed for bankruptcy and Britain's High Street has recorded its worst July sales since 1995.

Peter Ackroyd, chairman of the International Wool Textile Organisation's retail forum, said analysts had concluded that a glut of shopping space, stores and websites were chasing sales at a time when business costs were constantly rising while demand was not.

"This does not bode well for the coming (northern hemisphere) winter season when wool really come into its own on retail shelves," he said.

"A trade dispute between Japan and South Korea, with calls to boycott brands on both sides of the table, leave giants like Uniqlo in a precarious position.

"And then the bastion of American luxury retail, Barneys, filed for bankruptcy, just to top it all in a very bleak week," he said.

IWTO secretary general, Dalena White, said economies around the world were being weakened by growing uncertainty.

"Gold shares seemed the only safe haven last week, as currency fluctuations, Brexit news, Gulf tensions and tit-for-tat tariffs sent markets into a tailspin, right when the bells rang for the first auction of the season in Australia," she said.

Ms White said IWTO members were well aware of the hardships now faced by drought-hit Australian growers.

"IWTO was invited to deliver a presentation at the recent Outdoor fair in Munich, Germany, to representatives of the outdoor textiles market where we urged delegates to consider the devastating impact of climate change, ongoing droughts and changing weather patterns, on our wool sheep farming community.

"We reminded delegates that most of the world's Merino wool is produced on dryland farms which are completely dependent on natural rainfall.

"We shared a new video by The Woolmark Company, titled 'Australian wool supply continues despite drought' and urged retail to understand the higher raw wool prices are the only saving grace for many who are now spending upwards of $20,000 a week feeding their flocks," she said.

"We know wool sheep farming is a lifelong commitment and many industry members have been working in wool all their professional lives.

"Most farmers are 3rd or 4th generation, some with family farm histories reaching back much further.

"It has never been a get-rich-quick scheme and never will be. If pumping yarn through a spinneret at the speed of white light and selling it in volume to the best bidder is your idea of a sustainable textile business, the wool business will not suit you, either.

"IWTO represents 37 members from 23 countries around the world including the wool pipeline from farm to fashion.

"To say we've been here before would be presumptuous but we have certainly endured some tough times in the past.

"The benefits of wearing and living with wool are now scientifically proven and our members continue to devote their limited resources to working groups and committees actively proving wool's unique capabilities.

"The ongoing pollution of our waterways and precious land resources by the fast-fashion model and man-made fibre industry have left consumers with a serious moral dilemma.

"We simply have to buy less and buy better or continue to eat, drink and breath plastic microfibres coming off our cheap and cheerful weekend purchases.

"Above all, we believe in the tenacity, integrity and endurance of our industry members who choose to make this incredible fibre the centre of their working lives.

"We live it, sleep it and work it, and continue to do so, whatever the latest headlines throw at us.

"Research has proven that wool has natural durability with the wool fibre being able to bend 20,000 times before breaking. We aspire to that," Ms White said.

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