The Golden Fleece

Can strong wool make a comeback? Georgia Merton for Frank Film, 05 September 2022
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“Once upon a time, strong wool was a moneymaker for New Zealand.

These days, though, it’s costing many farmers more to shear their strong wool sheep than they can get back for the wool itself.

So what happened to the market for strong wool? In short, synthetics. As Hadleigh Smith from The NZ Merino Company explains, plastics took over everything. Strong wool, which is warm, fire-resistant, water-repellent and naturally-sourced, was squeezed out by a cheaper counterpart. “After the glory days of the 50s and 60s, there was a boom in synthetic production, and that material has been used everywhere, from flooring through to fabrics and in clothing,” says Smith, whose role as market development manager for strong wool necessitates an intimate knowledge of its history.”

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