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Woolmark Launches Turkish Initiatives

Firm opens a local office to work more closely with local fashion brands.

ISTANBUL — As the worldwide demand for natural, renewable fabrics grows, the Woolmark Company is amping up its presence in emerging markets, most recently launching a series of initiatives in Turkey.

This story first appeared in the May 30, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“Natural, biodegradable, renewable fiber is becoming attractive to a significant portion of the market,” said Rob Langtry, Woolmark’s chief marketing and strategy officer. “People are buying less and with more judgment as to sustainability.”

Woolmark, which represents 30,000 Australian wool growers, works with global suppliers to develop products that meet those expectations as well as changing needs of the times.

“Cool Wool is a concept launched decades ago but we feel is right for the times,” Langtry noted. “It’s lighter weight and more suited to climates like the Mediterranean, China and the Middle East.”

Turkish men’s wear brand Sarar became the latest company to feature Cool Wool in its spring collection. The company will take its line to customers across Turkey and the Middle East.

Jonathan Akeroyd, president and chief executive officer at Alexander McQueen, recently came to Istanbul to talk to industry representatives about the benefits of working with wool.

“Wool is a large percentage of our ready-to-wear collection in terms of fabrication. We have seen strong growth in our knitwear offer, where we have been able to use merino wool in more innovative ways, helping us stand out from other brands in the marketplace,” Akeroyd told WWD.

In Turkey, Woolmark has just opened a local representative office to work more closely with local fashion brands, offering manufacturers assistance on product development, access into developing markets or joint programs with retailers. The company also has a number of important licensees in Turkey.

“We are looking at Turkish manufacturing to see how we can help support their growth, given the country’s proximity to Europe,” Langtry said.

The country is also rapidly growing, at a rate that up until last year rivaled China’s expansion. “We are seeing the emergence of a mid- to high-end luxury market. The market is becoming more sophisticated,” Langtry said.

The company has set aside promotional funds for Turkey and the Middle East and is gunning for an increase in demand of between 5 and 10 percent over the next two to three years.