600 tonnes of New Zealand fine and medium micron wool will be shipped to the US

600 tonnes of New Zealand fine and medium micron wool will be shipped to the US

US based manufacturer SmartWool – a unit of VF Corporation – has signed a new $8m fibre supply contract to use wool from the New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) in its socks and clothing.

The one-year deal means 600 tonnes of New Zealand fine and medium micron wool will be shipped to the US – continuing an 18-year partnership worth $150m to NZM’s growers.

Colorado-based SmartWool started as a ski sock brand in 1994 and has since diversified into performance and lifestyle apparel, selling products in 40 countries. President Mark Satkiewicz said the company’s focus on new product innovation had required more complex fibre micron and volume analysis in advance of the contract.

"Consumers, especially younger ones, are taking a much stronger interest in the origin and integrity of products. New Zealand farming has one of the strongest brand stories available," he said. This includes accrediting the fibre through the ZQ programme, which requires standards for animal welfare, environmental care and social sustainability.

NZM chief executive John Brakenridge said the group’s model of bringing wool producers closer to end-users was "hugely disruptive" when first introduced, adding: "It's satisfying to see that the model has longevity."