About Steven Parsons

Steven Parsons looks after Market Development and Innovation for Wools of New Zealand. Views are his own and not necessarily those of WNZ.

Just a Drop

Wool makes beautiful fabrics.

In fact really good wool, with smart design can create stunningly attractive materials that perform brilliantly, as evidenced by Synergy, Camira Fabrics latest range of upholstery fabric.

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The Synergy range is made up of 75 shades, each constructed with a high content of pure New Zealand wool.  Some in combinations of subtle mélanges, others in piece dyes solids.

Textile manufacturing does use a lot of water for cleaning wool and colouring fabrics but luckily Wools of New Zealand and Camira Fabrics both have the luxury of being in parts of the world where water is in plentiful supply.

New Zealand wool factory

Wool growing in New Zealand

We know that not all parts of the world are so fortunate with an estimated 750 million people without safe water.   Camira has invited Wools of New Zealand to donate to international water aid charity Just a Drop, for every metre of fabric sold.

For a start, together and with the help of others in the Synergy supply chain we will build a water tank at Ikalaasa Primary School in Kenya to provide clean water to 460 pupils.

All the details about Synergy are here.

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Pupils at Ikalaasa primary school in Kenya

Synergy just feels nice doesn’t it!

Second Life SolidWool

SolidWool are a brilliant young company making beautiful items from Herdwick wool.   Hannah and Justin Floyd do an amazing job of designing, manufacturing and marketing their products made in England from British Wool.  Recently we have been working with SolidWool to help find a second life for wool carpets… Full story below.

The SolidWool story is at SolidWool

 

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SolidWool table and chair made from recycled wool carpet.

400,000,000kg of carpet fibre is disposed of each year in the UK! Carpet recycling UK have done a great job of diverting almost 1/3 of this into recycled products like Crumbwool carpet underfelt. But we still have a long way to go and we are not even touching post consumer wool carpets.

Recycling is good, but up-cycling is better. By creating added value, sought after products from rescued wool fibre we hope to inspire more investment in up-cycling.

We asked SolidWool to help us on our recycling challenge and they made us these amazing chairs and a coffe table from post-industrial rescued carpet fibre, seen here on the Wools of New Zealand stand at Domotex.

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Thanks to Carpet Recycling UK, Anglo Recycling and SolidWool for helping us ensure wool fibre has a second life.

more detail on this story on the Great Recovery website.

 

Forensic Integrity

It is the start of 2016 so I predict ever increasing scrutiny of supply chains to ensure that social and environmental values are not compromised in the supply of products and services to consumers, wherever they are and wherever stuff originates.

Starting with the luxury brands, as always, there is a growing demand for complete transparency. We are going to see more labels asking for trust and we are going to see more activist shooting down the tall poppies.

Several years ago we started Laneve, working with a few trusted partners to provide wool carpets and textiles from managed and transparent value chains. At the time we thought transparency was key, but really transparency is just a tool that proves integrity.

As we move beyond a few partners wanting to build trusted brands to a world that must have trust, thanks Volkswagen for making this point loud and clear, we now need to move beyond paper trails and use science to back up claims on origin, provenance and therfor integrity.

Wools of New Zealand have partnered with Oritain to scientifically verify that the products made from our wool have not been tampered with or dumbed down.

This video says it best..

Oritain with Wools of NZ – Fine Cut (1) from Mathew Bartlerr on Vimeo.

Travel New Zealand - Sheep Farm

Flock of sheep, New Zealand.

WOOL | THE NATURAL CHOICE

Wool creates the ideal habitat for homes and offices.

There are so many reasons why New Zealand wool is the perfect material for humans to live with.  Here are a few of the top reasons why wool offers a superior experience than any other finer, natural or man-made.

QUIET & COMFORTABLE – Wool textiles absorb noise and create warmth making your home or office the perfect place for relaxation, concentration and play.  Wool fibres come is a vast array of microns and crimps meaning it absorbs a higher range of frequncies than other flooring materials.

SAFE & ALLERGY SAFE – Wool carpets act as a natural air filter, trapping allergens such as dust and pollen and keeping them out of the breathing zone.  Wool is great for asthmatics as it cannot be digested by dust mites, the main cause of asthma and actually reduced humidity with a room.

CLEAN AIR – Wool absorbs indoor contaminants and purifies the air of harmful gases locking them away for up to 30 years.

OUTSTANDING QUALITY – Wool carpets are renowned for long-lasting good looks and have many inherent qualities that assure performance is locked in. A wool fibre can be bent 20,000 times and bounce-back to its natural shape meaning carpets will look great for years and years.

NATURAL – Wool is rapidly renewable, with each sheep growing a new fleece every year. Wool is biodegradable and full of essential nutrients that plants love. Wool carpets can be returned to nature or recycled into new products.

SUSTAINABLE – Wool is the only widely available carpet fiber not made from oil.

Our wool, Wools of New Zealand wool is a sustainable material which is completely renewable, biodegradable and responsibly grown by farmers who care.  We take special care of the land, the animals and the people so we can keep growing wool for another few thousand years.

Notice below how the most elegant interiors rely on a carpet for quiet and comfortable spaces.

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wool floors are quiet

Chateauesque Jewel, an entry in the SBID design awards 2015 by Regina Sturrock Design Inc. 

How to Buy New Carpet

Talk to the right professional.

We, the people at Wools of New Zealand get a lot of phone calls from home owners wanting to know how to clean their carpet, which type of carpet is best, what products we can suggest etc.

I suspect people are looking to buy from an internet site, to get a bargain perhaps, and are missing out on the best advice you get by talking to an interior design professional or a carpet showroom.

Of course we are always polite, and try to be helpful. We do know a lot about wool carpets. But we don’t manufacture carpet and we don’t sell carpet. We grow really amazing wool fibre that we sell to the people that do make carpets and interior textiles.

Carpet is a major investment in the look, comfort and health of your home or office. It’s worth talking to somebody who can understand your specific lifestyle and suggest the product that is going to perform.

A professional will work to your budget, take care of the installation, suggest a care and maintenance plan and if anything should deviate from the plan sort it out.

I prepared a list of great carpet stores and put them here

link to Wools of New Zealand where to but carpet site

Find a carpet shop.

The internet is great for getting ideas, researching trends, finding local stores and understanding what options are out there. Just as you would not buy a new car without sitting in the showroom model and taking a spin, you shouldn’t make a large investment in your home without understanding the features and benefits of wool carpet.

I just carpeted the stairs at home, and its looks fabulous. After having wooden stairs for a few months I also notice the home is warmer, significantly quieter and importantly much safer.   I have a dog and a teenager, so a pattern helps disguise any pet hair or teenager collateral damage.

I also noticed that visitors go “wow” and don’t just say, “Oh you got a new beige carpet”.   Our new wool carpet is awesome.

dog on wool carpet

Dogs love wool carpet

fabulous laneve carpet

This is Fabulous colour Ruby by Crucial Trading on my stairs.

Working with nature.

Some very famous brands have been talking to us recently about ethics.

Concerns have been raised about the wool fibre grown for their products. Animal activist groups, and lets be fair, who don’t really have a good reputation so far as unbiased and honest report go, claim that humans eat sheep. This is true; their claims are a worry in that they also claim that sheep are treated cruelly during their life on the farm.   At this point please be clear that they are not accusing New Zealand farmers!

 Here is the truth.

Sheep are grown all around the world. Local customs and local environments mean that standards and practices vary.

In New Zealand there are strict laws on animal welfare, good environmental management and social welfare. It’s a modern society with lots of checks in place to ensure that everything is done in a nice way.     The clean and green New Zealand brand is fiercely protected. The last thing Kiwi’s want is to be seen as out of sync with nature.

New Zealand farmers are animal lovers that enjoy working with nature. Sheep are grown for food with wool being a relatively small part of the farmer’s income. The sheep are kept in large free-range properties, are sheltered, well fed and well looked after. A happy healthy sheep is a more productive animal.

The wool is taken from sheep once or twice a year depending on the type of sheep and the type of product the wool is grown for. During the shearing process the sheep are held in pens while they wait for their haircut. The sheep are held by the shearer in a relaxed state, and do not resist this process. They then go back to the paddock.

The farmers look after the land so that it can be passed onto their children and they look after the animals so they will be productive and keep giving us wool.

Not all parts of the world are as plentiful as New Zealand enjoying as much rainfall and sunshine and a moderate climate for wool.  Third-world farming communities need our help and support so they too can reach maximum potential.

Rather the calling for a boycott on wool, which hurts the good growers, why not work with these communities and show them how it’s done. Shunning third world farmers out of your own ignorance does not make the world a better place.

Campaigns of anger create tension; destroy livelihoods and ultimately force people to do desperate things to feed their family.   These extremist need to put down their digital placards and become part of the solution.

The video below illustrates the shearing process. Which as well as not causing any discomfort to the sheep, provides a livelihood for many hundreds of thousands of people in the textile industry around the world.

The Perils of Fast Fashion in Interiors

Interior fashion cycles are getting faster with the gap between the catwalk and interiors stores getting shorter all the time.  Associating interiors brands with celebrity and high fashion can be good if this lifts the perceived value of an item, which is then treasured for its aesthetic and its quality.  The manufacture of heirloom pieces is great for building long-term robust and sustainable value chains.  When true craftsmanship is rewarded and quality materials are sought after then the people that grow fibre, sew garments and weave carpets and fabrics all can share the rewards.

It all falls apart however if we follow the fast fashion business model. If textile mills and retail outlets focus on fast turn-around of low quality items from non-sustainable value chains we end up creating waste, using more energy than is required and supporting the throw-away society.

It is better to create beautiful textiles from sustainable materials and to build them well so they last a long time, rather than to manufacture oil based products with the promise to recycle them one day.

The fast fashion culture encourages corners to be cut and lives to be endangered, think Rana Plaza.   This is not just an apparel issue.  There are carpet schemes that guarantee no child labour, but do not take care of the children that are banished from the rug mills.  Those children sometimes move to more dangerous factories.  No we don’t want six year olds making our carpets, we want them in schools paid for by the sale of carpets.

There are rug retailers that push so hard on price that the weavers are forced to use extremely low quality materials and pay very poor wages.  Eliminating unnecessary waste and reproduction is the best thing we can do for the planet and for the people that live here.  Buying something cheap with the aim of throwing it away is the worst legacy we can leave behind.

Children removed from rug factories are often just moved on to other industries.

Children removed from rug factories are often just moved on to other industries.