Business Basics

“Why we support Australian made ethical production”

- October 19, 2017 3 MIN READ

Pip Smith from an Australian company five generations in the making, shares the processes behind creating their quality clothes and building a brand the ethical way.

At LoveMerino family, heritage, integrity and traceability are values we hold dear. This small business is our lifelong dream and the culmination of the hard work of five generations of Merino farmers from Wellington, NSW, Australia.

The Merino fleece used for our scarves is sourced solely from our property – Glenwood – which has been passed down from generation to generation.

The first grazier in the Smith family in Central West NSW was Mr William Henry Smith. William’s son Henry ran a leasehold block called Geurie Station just outside of Wellington. In 1898 Henry Smith loaned his son Norman £2000 to purchase part of Glenwood. Since then the family has stayed close to the original vision.

LoveMerino values Australian made and ethical production so we want to provide as much transparency as we can about our manufacturing process.

You may have heard of the campaign Fashion Revolution under the hashtag #whomademyclothes – it got our attention as it brings to light the makers behind each garment or label. This campaign started a few years back in response to the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh where 1,138 people were tragically killed.

So who makes LoveMerino products? Here’s what it takes to create our range of scarves.

From the farm: The family farm Glenwood is in Wellington, Western NSW, and has been held by the Smith Family for over 100 years. We have 7000 Merino sheep who graze a happy life on 7000 acres. Norm works with a team of contract shearers each nine months to give the Merinos their ‘haircut’ and the process begins.

Processing: The wool is then graded and packed into bales. Unfortunately it’s no longer possible to process wool in Australia – something we hope to change in the future. The raw fleece is shipped to China to be washed and spun and is returned to Melbourne as yarn. They don’t bleach the yarn so it comes in the soft, natural buttery colour.

Machine knitting: Down in Melbourne the yarn is fed into knitting machines to turn their processed yarn into soft, smooth fabric. The current collection is a mid weight 180 grams per square metre (gsm) fabric making it trans-seasonal and easy to wear all year round.

Sydney makers: The fabric is sent in roll form from Melbourne to Sydney. Depending on the design, the next steps typically involve screen-printing, dying, cutting and sewing. For these steps they work with Mark, Steph and Javed at Publisher Textiles & Papers in Leichhardt where they hand silk-screen-print the fabric using traditional methods along 20m tables, repeating the pattern together. Then if the fabric is to be overdyed we drive it to Greg in St Peters where he dyes small batches with flat colour. We pick up the fabric and take to Tam and Le in Marrickville where they cut, sew and tag the finished garments.

Or, if the product is a Shibori scarf they work with Pepa and Karen from Shibori in Stanmore. Each scarf is then hand dyed, dipped, died and folded to create interesting patterns and colour transitions. The finished scarves are then driven back to the farm, full circle, where me and my team quality check and box the scarves ready to mail them out to customers around the world.

This was originally published on Love Merino

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