The team from Palliser Ridge Farm in the South Wairarapa recently spent some time in the UK visiting family and friends; a trip postponed, like many things, due to Covid. Before their departure, Diversification Manager Lisa reached out to the CFW NZ team to see if there were any opportunities to meet like-minded wool lovers whilst overseas.
Happily, the dates coincided with CFW UK’s Wool Week Launch, taking place at the infamous Salt’s Mill in Shipley, home of much of the UK’s wool manufacturers and processors.
After a 4 hour drive up from London, the Portas family, consisting of Kurt and Lisa, as well as their boys Beauden (9) and Axel (7), arrived and eventually found their way to the correct floor and function area where they were welcomed by the CFW UK team. Dressed in their best New Zealand wool garments and accessories and with a glass of Prosecco in hand, (not for the boys of course!), it was time for the formalities to commence.
Peter Ackroyd, CFW UK’s Chief Operating Officer, described a rich history, where CFW had promoted wool through changing times and many of the major milestones in British history. The significance of Queen Elizabeth II’s passing was of course mentioned, as was the change in position for CFW founder, His Majesty King Charles III.
The spotlight on wool across the retail and manufacturing sector was reassuring, and to see so many influential brands and businesses in the same room, all agreeing that wool was on the upward trajectory, and at the forefront of consumer demands was music to the ears of all wool lovers, not least a couple of wool growers from the bottom of New Zealand’s North Island.
The team from Marks & Spencers discussed their relationship with wool over the years, and displayed a range of wool garments from their archives that had served as inspiration for the upcoming season’s range. The well-known suiting and blazers that were staples in the 70’s and 80’s continue to impress now in 2022, combining a modern flair on the existing timeless elegance.
Once the speeches were complete, the mixing and mingling began, and the two youngest Portas whanau members took their role as wool models seriously, posing for photos in their handknit jumpers for the Marks & Spencer design team, as well as trying their hand at being mannequins alongside those wearing the launch garments.
Members of the UK Wool realm were out in force for the launch of the fantastic week appreciating wool, as well as for the preview of the department store giant’s upcoming winter range. From scourers, to spinners, to weavers, as well as designers, lecturers, students and growers, the chain of hands that fibre passes through to the end consumer were all covered.
If the buzz-word “collaboration” is still front of mind in the wool sector, this was absolutely a chance to see it in practice.
Kurt and Lisa would like to thank CFW UK for their hospitality at what was a memorable event.