The Kiwi wool growers supplying UK retail giants Marks & Spencer

Rural Exchange 20/10/2018

UK retail giant Marks & Spencer has become one of the first major clothing retailers to launch a menswear range with lambs wool blazers that are not only in a 28-31 micron range, but have a new global certification called the Responsible Wool Standard (RWS).

The first Wools of New Zealand shareholder farm to be certified to supply the fashion label is Palliser Ridge.

Sheep farmer and Palliser Ridge manager Kurt Portas says the 13,000-hectare farm had already been run commercially for several years.

"We were approached by Wools of New Zealand and asked if we wanted to get RWS rated," Mr Portas says.

"We had systems in place that RWS was already looking for, so we could get it done quickly for them."

Mr Portas told the story of meeting with the UK reps in London.

"We went up this skyrise building and talked about what we do and our wool. Then a year later, it's all been spun up into these blazers [...] that they sent back to me to do a bit of a photo shoot,"

"I told all my mates about it."

The RWS global initiative can open up new doors for growers and customers while farming ethically.

"It's more about opening the doors to contracts and customers,"

"If we can work together to tell a story of ethically farmed, sustainable wool, and help them sell wool, that's where we need to head."

Listen to the full interview with Kurt Portas above.

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