The popularity of wool as a fibre for clothing varies around the world according to different fashions as well as availability and price. News is constantly emerging of market developments and, as a manufacturer or consumer, it pays to keep up to date!
In China certain fashion trends are the main driving factor behind poor prices for most types of fine wool at the moment. This all relates back to the current political situation where many anti-corruption cases have recently taken place. This has seen people in China opt for more casual wear over the previous trend of being seen in high-end suits. Many of these suits were made from fine wool. Even members of the government have been seen to tone down their wardrobes in an attempt to appear more humble.
China is also in the headlines in regards to wool as Beijing is hosting the International Woolmark Prize this year. Merino wool collections will be presented to a jury of prominent fashion designers on the 17th of March. This initiative generates millions of dollars for the wool industry every year.
Wool prices in Australia and New Zealand are experiencing a decline in recent weeks as the euro and the Australian dollar fluctuate against each other. There does, however, appear to be some sign of a rebound in prices beginning to show. Interest in fine wool in the country is starting to increase again which is good news for the economy of the country despite the weakening Australian dollar. 28 micron wool is currently the best performing wool in Australia and New Zealand in terms of sales. The price of 28 micron wool has risen 20 cents in recent weeks, almost reaching the same peak it did in 2002.
Wool experts in Australia and New Zealand have commented that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find high quality fine wool. This of course leads to prices increasing across the board.
Vietnam is currently being explored as a potential new major manufacturing hub for wool. It is believed that this could provide a lower cost option for those countries who import large amounts of wool. China currently buys 80% of the wool that Australia produces. If Vietnam were to emerge as a serious contender then China would be able to source some of their products from the country instead. However, with the aforementioned decline in the popularity of wool in China, it is still uncertain how necessary this will be.
Developments in the wool market in any part of the world can often have longer lasting implications in other regions. As prices of various types of wool are continuously going up and down, it remains to be seen if some stability will emerge as new possibilities are explored!