June 11, 2007 â€“ AWI and Sugoi Performance Apparel, a leading athletic apparel manufacturer, have teamed up to introduce the new Wallaroo line of Merino active wear and retailers across North America are clamoring to order the revolutionary new line.
This is the first time in Sugoi's history, that the company is using natural fiber in one of its lines, having preferred high performance synthetics in the past.
For 20 years, Sugoi, a Japanese term for â€œincredible,â€ has produced the best-looking, best-performing athletic apparel for runners, cyclists, triathletes and fitness enthusiasts.
Sugoi focuses on exceptional fit, details and reliable performance and looks to develop technical solutions for cardiovascular sports. After conducting a significant amount of research, Merino was chosen for its position as both a natural and technical fiber as well as for its soft hand. Athletes also appreciate the breathability and durability that Merino provides.
To represent Merino's key properties, the new collection is fittingly named, Wallaroo, after a breed of kangaroo most adaptive to hot and cold temperatures. Merino has excellent thermal regulation and moisture movement, to keep people comfortable in all conditions, even when they're wet.
â€œWe've already had fantastic bookings and the response has truly been spectacular,â€ said Stan Mavis, president of Sugoi. â€œThe buyers were surprised that it was so luxurious and had almost a cashmere hand to it.â€
â€œAWI introduced us to a special enzyme wash that can be used to take out the coarser fibers and produce a more uniform and consistent product that washes and wears very well,â€ said Mavis. â€œNorth American society is a washer/dryer society so it was important that the product be washer/dryer friendly.â€
The Wallaroo collection features two different weights of Merino and seven styles of men's and women's apparel. Certain pieces are intended to be used for base layering while others can be worn independently depending on the activity. The new collection is consistent with other Sugoi lines, featuring the same look and feel and performance oriented stitching despite the move to Merino.
Stuart McCullough, director of North American Operations at AWI, is enthusiastic about the new line and how it is already changing common misperceptions about Merino.
â€œAWI is constantly looking for ways to spread the word that Merino is not the itchy, scratchy product it used to be,â€ said McCullough, who spearheaded the Sugoi partnership with AWI. â€œSugoi, with its vast network of retailers around the world, is a perfect company to facilitate this initiative. Because of their high-tech nature, Sugoi is a company that is studied by many of the major North American retailers as a cutting-edge innovator of product. We are working hard to ensure that we extend the adoption by retailers of the new merino wool products that show the product as luxurious, soft and easy-care.â€
To help market the products and drive additional awareness for Merino, Sugoi also gave retailers shiny, Merino-branded bags to display the product in stores.
â€œThis is a brand new category for us,â€ said Mavis. â€œWe currently have a 60 percent adoption rate which is the most successful booking we've ever had for a new category. And that's worldwide, out of approximately 2,000 accounts that we handle.â€
â€œThat's incredible in any languageâ€, he said.