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The sustainable New Zealand wool brands that should be on your radar

<em>Davaar & Co, credit: Francine Boer Photography</em>
Davaar & Co, credit: Francine Boer Photography
From family farms across New Zealand, a new generation is finding fashionable and sustainable ways to repurpose their wool clip.

Davaar & Co

As part of the fifth generation on her family’s heritage farm in Te Anau, Kate Macdonald has long been passionate about wool. She has always appreciated the multiple benefits of the fibre, such as being naturally grown, biodegradable and durable, so she couldn’t understand why wool wasn’t more highly valued.

She felt determined to find a way to increase the value of her farm’s clip, while raising awareness for the crossbred wool industry. “I kept coming back to the idea of a fashion jersey,” she says, and Davaar & Co was born.

Francine Boer Photography

Taking inspiration from her late grandmother, who was an avid knitter, Macdonald settled upon creating premium jumpers, locally made using wool from her family farm, Davaar Station.

The jerseys are sold in four colourways – snow, tussock, bark and granite – each calling to mind the neutral tones of the Davaar Station landscape. They are also available in four unisex styles influenced by the designs Macdonald’s grandmother would use to create her own homespun jumpers.

“We are trying to encourage more consumers to buy New Zealand wool and to buy products that are sustainably made, ethically made with biodegradable, renewable, sustainable fibres as opposed to synthetic garments,” Macdonald says.

Francine Boer Photography

“I am proud to play a small part in helping shift consumers’ buying behaviours … through creating a fashion brand with all pieces made exclusively from woollen fibres that are 100 per cent traceable back to our century-old heritage farm and entirely manufactured in New Zealand.”

Honest Wolf

Founded from Papanui Estate, a third- generation sheep and beef farm in the middle of the North Island, Honest Wolf fuses two natural materials to bring New Zealanders a sustainable and durable range of luggage and accessories.

The idea was first sparked for Sam and Sophie Hurley by the phasing out of plastic bags in New Zealand. “We started Honest Wolf with a vision to provide shoppers with a fashionable, biodegradable and renewable shopping bag made from wool,” explains Sophie.

Starting with the launch of their Casual Shopper, the Honest Wolf range has since expanded to include tote bags, weekender bags, backpacks, laptop sleeves, caps and wallets, all created using wool grown by the sheep on the hills of Papanui Estate (there are more than 25,000 of them) and New Zealand leather.

“Each year, Papanui Estate produces high amounts of wool that has mostly been used for carpet, so we asked ourselves, what other ways could we put nature’s wonder product to use?’’ says Sophie. “Starting with a wool-based shopping bag, we’ve now developed an entire range of travel luggage and accessories after discovering that we could create high quality, sustainable products that our customers love – men and women alike.’

The Clip

It was an icy rugby season, during which the Bell family were finding it particularly uncomfortable on the sidelines, when Charlotte Bell walked past the leftover wool clip sitting idly in the shed of their farm in the Hakataramea Valley.

Fiona Anderson Photography

An idea for keeping her family and other sport spectators warm was formed – the wool from the farm’s Romney ewe lambs would make for a beautiful coat. “We saw an opportunity to showcase our quality wool while filling a gap in the sustainable fashion market,” says Charlotte.

The Clip was founded, offering 100 per cent natural and New Zealand-made wool coats. Run by husband-and-wife team Charlotte and Hamish Bell, the couple inherited a love of wool and a talent for wool-selecting from Hamish’s parents.

Fiona Anderson Photography

“Wool is the most amazing product,” says Charlotte. “Its moisture-wicking properties keep your temperature regulated and keep you feeling drier. Made up of keratin-based proteins, wool is fire and water-resistant, hypoallergenic, incredibly durable and, of course, environmentally sustainable and biodegradable.”

The traits of Romney wool fleece make it the perfect fibre for creating a coat, meaning Kiwis who take home a piece from The Clip can enjoy timeless attire that will last season after season.



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