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18th July 2008, New Zealand

Cutting-edge fabrics combine with cutting edge fashion


AgResearch scientists are collaborating with some of New Zealand’s top fashion designers to showcase the latest developments in textiles research at Air New Zealand Fashion Week 2008.

AgResearch’s Textile Science and Technology researchers are world leaders in applying science and engineering to develop textiles with exceptional form and functional properties for both fashion and industrial applications.

Natural, wool-based fibres enable the researchers to create fabrics in a sustainable manner that offer greater comfort, breathability and insulation. AgResearch Corporate Affairs Manager Allanah James says the Textiles team is supplying fabric to top New Zealand designers Annah Stretton, twenty seven names, Stitch Ministry, Zambesi, Hailwood, Liz Mitchell, Jaeha, Sera Lilly, and Salasai.

“We have provided fabric that will enable the designers to use their creative talents to tailor garments that are visually appealing and have unique functional properties,” she says. The fabrics target business-wear, formal-wear and casual-wear applications and are used for next-to-skin or mid-layer or outerwear garments,” she says.

AgResearch’s ‘Vintage Merino’ fabric has an aged/washed look which is achieved through the use of dye resist and dye release treatments, while the Tone-on-Tone knitwear achieves tonal coloured patterns via a single dyeing process. “This eliminates the need to dye yarn to a wide range of colours. When placed in a one colour dye bath, the fabric dyes itself to more than one colour,” she says.

Another exciting fabric is the Rip-Stop for casual and sports apparel which is made from 95 per cent wool. This high-tech, contemporary fabric provides better breathability than synthetic competitors – a unique selling point in the market-place.

“Our Next-to-skin Apparel will also be profiled at Fashion week. This fabric is made from a super-fine merino wool yarn that is knitted into a range of fine gauge knit structures that are finer than any other natural fibre available in the market-place and offer drying properties superior to competing synthetic fabrics. We are proud to provide this fabric to Annah Stretton for her self-titled label.”

AgResearch will also be profiling its Natural Easy Care shirting and suiting fabrics. The NEC fabric utilises a single worsted yarn which is created by specially designed rollers that are easily retro-fitted to an existing spinning frame. The grooved rollers split the wool strand into micro-yarns which are made up of well interlocked fibres. The resulting single yarn has improved surface abrasion resistance, to withstand the stresses and strains imposed during weaving, and can be woven into a much lighter-weight fabric.

AgResearch Senior Scientist Dr Surinder Tandon says the new wool fabric has a number of beneficial qualities. “It breathes better than other shirting fabrics, is fully machine washable without the use of chemical treatments for shrink-proofing. This means that there are significant environmental benefits, which we believe will also be an advantage for retailers eager to serve the needs of discerning, environmentally aware consumers.”

Designer Kirsha Whitcher plans to make a dress from the NEC fabric for her Salasai label. “I chose the shirting fabric because it has got such beautiful drape – it’s really hard to find a lightweight fabric that is woven and one hundred per cent wool,” she said.

Another unique fabric being showcased is prepared from a wool/possum fibre blend that is knitted directly from the fibre, without needing to be spun into a yarn first. The machine used to make it has been specially modified for AgResearch, and is the only one of its type in Australasia. A diverse range of fabrics can be prepared on this equipment, from the luxurious through to the highly functional – a stab, slash and flame resistant wool fabric has also been developed.

Source: AgResearch

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