The Woolmark Co. has named Narciso Rodriguez as ambassador for merino wool in its No Finer Feeling global marketing campaign.

Ads will appear in fashion magazines in the fall touting the versatility of merino wool as a fiber. Rodriguez will include merino wool pieces in two upcoming collections and will champion the benefits of wool as a luxury fiber. Starting with Rodriguez’s fall collection, being shown during New York Fashion Week Feb. 12, select pieces will include merino wool and carry the Woolmark logo. Rodriguez’s ambassadorship will extend through spring 2014, and the number of garments featuring merino wool will increase each season.

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

“I’ve historically used wool as the core of my collections. This collaboration happened quite naturally. I’m a true believer in wool and have been cutting wool on the bias since I was in school,” Rodriguez told WWD.

Stuart McCullough, chief executive officer of Australian Wool Innovation, parent company of Woolmark, said, “Narciso’s innovative vision and meticulous focus on craftsmanship make him a perfect partner to demonstrate the beauty and versatility of merino wool as a fiber.”

McCullough added that Woolmark invests in product development and marketing with those designers selected. The No Finer Feeling ad campaign aims to inform consumers about the natural benefits and attributes of merino wool. “Influential fashion leaders, including Vivienne Westwood, have become ambassadors for the initiative and merino — sharing the reasons why merino wool is their preferred luxury fiber,” McCullough said.

Rodriguez noted that Woolmark is supporting his company with research and development. “Their resources are endless. They’ve opened their design library to us. It’s there for all designers to use, and we forget there are all these great tools for us to use,” he said. Rodriguez said he uses wool for all his categories, including shoes, bags, coats and dresses. “There are so many different types of wool. We use high-twist yarns that have great natural stretch that we run consistently,” he noted.

No Finer Feeling is a three-year, 20 million Australian dollar, or $21.1 million, campaign that has seen AWI partner with more than 30 designers and brands, including Westwood, Giorgio Armani, Ermenegildo Zegna, Lanvin, Alexander Wang and Marc Jacobs via co-branded media and point-of-sale campaigns in the U.K., Europe, China and Japan, or wool ambassadorships.

McCullough noted that Rodriguez will be involved with the creative direction of the ad campaign and will participate in some of AWI’s educational programs.

Rodriguez’s participation is part of Woolmark’s re-branding efforts in the U.S. market “and reinforces The Woolmark Co. as the world’s best-known textile fiber brand,” said McCullough. He noted that the New York office has been dormant since the financial crisis “and now we’re reestablishing The Woolmark Co.’s profile and presence in this very important market. Additionally our ambassadorial partnerships are our way of reaffirming our commitment to the fashion industry.”

McCullough became acquainted with Rodriguez when the designer was one of the judges of the 2012 U.S. regional event of the International Woolmark Prize. “It was there we spent time with him and realized he would be a perfect ambassador for us. His admiration for wool as a fiber and innovative use of it in his collection illustrated to us that he would be a natural partner to help promote the benefits of merino wool to the fashion industry as well as consumers,” McCullough said.

For the 2013-14 financial year, starting July 1, AWI’s marketing budget will increase by 56 percent to 54 million Australian dollars, or $56.6 million at current exchange, the result of a vote by Australian wool growers late last year to devote more funds to marketing over the next three years. The priorities are to reestablish the New York and Paris offices after several years’ hiatus in both markets and completing the 2012 International Woolmark Prize.

The International Woolmark Prize final will be staged at London’s ME hotel on Feb. 16. Finalists Christian Wijnants, Sophie Theallet, Dion Lee, Dressedundressed, Ban Xiao Xue and Pankaj & Nidhi will compete for 100,000 Australian dollars, or $105,467, in prize money and the opportunity to have their winning merino collection sold through a global retail network that includes Bergdorf Goodman and Harvey Nichols.

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