MOHAIR TAKES AIMS AT A NEW ERA

Byline: Stuart Chirls

NEW YORK — Mohair is ready to break out of its traditional luxury niche and take on a new assortment of apparel segments and prices, from luxe to wovens to stretch, and from designer to moderate.
A marketing and product development program called “21st-Century Mohair,” introduced by the Mohair Council, is a broad-based attempt to put mohair squarely in the middle of apparel’s hottest categories as the millennium approaches.
“We want to go forward and be the innovator in the fabric and clothing markets,” said Richard Pactor, director of marketing and development for the Mohair Council, a trade organization based here that represents domestic mohair growers. “We want to show consumers what mohair can be, and the purposes it can serve going into the 21st century.”
The program was rolled out at the Yarn Fair International trade show here in August, backed by product samples from a cadre of domestic and international spinners.
“Yarn Fair is where we first started making contacts,” said Madeleine Daddiego, director of promotions for the Mohair Council. “We are aiming at a select list of 50-75 designers, private label retailers and catalogs. So far, interest has been very positive.”
The program is divided into product segments, including:
Microdeniers, with an emphasis on blends that use kid and adult mohair, silk and Egyptian cotton.
Stretch blends, in worsted constructions with Lycra spandex and other elastomers.
Luxury goods, blended with wool and silk.
Wovens and knits, for casual looks in wool, viscose, cotton, Tactel nylon and acrylic blends
Novelties and textures, in “no-hair” mohair with silk, viscose and wool, in lace-type constructions.
Home furnishings, in upholstery and wall covering fabrics.
“As in the past, the brushed, hairy looks that characterize mohair will still be our bread and butter, but it will be in other things as well,” Daddiego said. “We want to position mohair as a performance fiber. It is lightweight — lighter than wool — and has a natural resilience that aids in wrinkle-recovery.”
Pactor noted that the most effective way to strengthen mohair’s market share is to break it out of its time-honored niche. “We want to see mohair being used in fabrics at a popular price, not just at the expensive, designer level,” he said.
The woven and knit segment, Pactor said, will serve as a linchpin in the program’s overall success.
“Tailored and dressy clothing has been synonymous with mohair for years and years, but casual clothing also has a strong connection with mohair,” he said. “This includes looks for sweaters, a casual mohair trend we want to establish. And those segments offer the perfect opportunity to introduce mohair not at a luxury price point, but in the moderate to bridge level.”
The rollout comes at a propitious time, with mohair enjoying a resurgence of popularity in fabric makers’ offerings. “The timing for this program is very, very good,” Pactor said. “The stimulus, though, has been primarily at the designer retail level. Unlike Japan, for example, the U.S. is just not a ‘mohair country.’ But we think we can boost its standing here if we show people its versatility.”

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