Australian mohair industry regains its mojo

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2015-03-30 15:00:00 – Syndney

The Australian mohair industry is regaining its mojo which had declined in recent times at the expense of synthetics. The mohair is usually a silk-like fabric or yarn produced from the hair of the Angora goats, used in high-end fashions and furnishings. Mo0hair, one of the oldest textile fibers in use is now enjoying a resurgence, and for the past two years prices paid for Australian mohair have risen steadily.

Late last year at an auction in Narrandera, New South Wales, bales of the finest fleeces fetched record prices: in one instance selling for $46.50 per kilogram.

One reason for the renewed optimism among Australian producers is the arrival of two internationals, key figures in the global textile trade.

The first is GT Ferreira, a South African emigrant who recently brought his vast expertise and elite Angora goat genetics to Australia, where he now lives.

Then late last year Mr Ferreira brought a leading Italian textile producer Cesare Savio to tour Australian mohair farms.

Mr Savio is co-owner of Safil, a firm that employs more than 700 workers in factories in Bulgaria and Italy. Safil annually spins and weaves about 300 tonnes of mohair into expensive fabrics that are used by elite brands such as Zegna.

Australian mohair industry could fill breach left by South Africa. All the textile world thinks that the best mohair is from South Africa and eighty percent is purchased in South Africa. Now it's not true anymore, said Savio as he walked around mohair farms in Southern New South Wales,

Mr Savio was greatly impressed by the animal husbandry practices and the quality of the fibre. He is eager to buy Australian mohair because he believed that it could be a more reliable source of quality fibre than South Africa.

Mohair production in South Africa has waned since the end of the Apartheid era and Mr Savio said Australia could help fill the breach.

The population of the world, when it thinks about mohair, they are thinking about hairy products, hand knitting yarns, knitwear, very hairy. This perception is rapidly changing with growing consumer awareness of the benefits of natural fibres and finer quality mohair being used in manufacturing.

Back in the 1980s Australian mohair production reached about one million tonnes annually. Today the figure is a tenth of that, but the quality of today's product is far superior - and the economics are more than tempting.

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