AWI and Burlington are “Natural” Partners for Easy Care Merino

Australian Wool Innovation and Burlington Labs partner to bring a new line of 100 percent Merino fabrics called 'Natural Easy Care' to retailers across North America.
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June 19, 2007 – AWI and Burlington Labs, a division of Burlington WorldWide, have partnered to bring a new line of 100 percent Merino fabrics called ‘Natural Easy Care' (NEC) to retailers across North America. Burlington WorldWide (BWW), a business unit of International Textile Group, Inc. (OTC Bulletin Board: ITXN), is a leading provider and marketer of technology and fashion driven products for the menswear, womenswear, activewear, uniform and barrier markets. With offices and operations in the United States, Mexico, Europe and Hong Kong, Burlington Worldwide provides global textile innovations to its customers.

Natural easy care textiles provide designers with a lightweight fabric offering versatile properties.
The fabric, made without the application of chemicals typically used to develop easy-care properties, can be machine-washed and requires minimal ironing. It has a natural stretch for comfort, plus a soft touch and wonderful drape characteristics.

“Merino garments can be easily treated conventionally to render them shrink resistant but this usually involves a chlorine and polymer application said Stuart McCullough, director of North American operations at AWI. “This really is a ‘green' story because the Natural Easy Care process contains no chlorine, no polymer and no chemicals. It's particularly pertinent to the eco trend that's so popular right now. The consumer interest in sustainable textiles is the most significant opportunity to fall at the feet of the Australian Merino Industry in 30 years. This is not a typical trend because trends come and go and we expect this will be around for the long term.”

In its efforts to bring Natural Easy Care Merino to market, AWI funded research from the start and began investing in the project in 2002 with New Zealand research firm, Canesis (formerly The Wool Research Organisation of New Zealand)

“We needed to find suitable manufacturers who would make a fitting partner for a technology transfer,” said McCullough. “We chose Burlington because their sales network is so vast. You want to partner with a company that have the best chance of extending the technology to the rest of the world.”

“We're excited about the Natural Easy Care technology that AWI transferred to us,” said Tom Aubrey, product development manager at Burlington WorldWide. “We look forward to working with AWI on many projects in the future.”

Natural Easy Care Merino won't look any different aesthetically but lightweight and easy-care qualities mean the textile can be used in areas where wool has yet to go. It's meant for woven merino fabrics and is suitable for use in lightweight woven shirting or summer weight suiting.

“The market is looking for innovative products and natural easy care fits the trouser market very well,” said Aubrey.

Consumers will be informed of new natural easy care products through the labelling of the apparel as well as at point of purchase.

AWI continues to bring innovative products to the market that exemplify wool's advantages while adding new characteristics. The development of softer, more luxurious Merino blends that are machine-washable perfectly complement today's busy lifestyles and consumer demands.

“The customer is always right so we have to constantly think of ways to make the fiber perform how the consumer wants it,” said McCullough. “We want to ‘option-up' our already unique fiber by offering technologies that meet the consumer's needs… whatever they are.”

For more information, contact Jamie Paster (212) 373-6018

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