Love of Merino wool inspires local designers

Love of Merino wool inspires local designers


Life & Style
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Two SA designers have combined their rural roots with a passion for fashion, developing clothing lines using quality Australian Merino wool.

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NEW LINE: Clothing designer Emily Riggs, Burra, loves using Australian Merino wool for her iris + wool label, claiming it to be "the best fibre in the world".

NEW LINE: Clothing designer Emily Riggs, Burra, loves using Australian Merino wool for her iris + wool label, claiming it to be "the best fibre in the world".

Two SA designers have combined their rural roots with a passion for fashion, developing clothing lines using quality Australian Merino wool.

Emily Riggs, Burra, launched her clothing label iris + wool earlier this year, with a focus on creating stylish, long-lasting garments using environmentally-friendly methods, and promoting the superior quality of Australian Merino wool.

Ms Riggs has been surrounded by agriculture all her life, having grown up in Ardrossan with many childhood visits to her grandparents' farm in Langhorne Creek, and after marrying husband Tom, who runs 10,000 Merinos on their property, Wandillah, is well aware of the importance of supporting the nation's sheep producers.

"Supporting Australian farmers is important to me because I know first-hand how hard they work to produce our food and fibre," she said.

"The current drought is devastating and (the farmers) need all the support possible."

All iris + wool garments are made of 15.6 micron superfine wool sourced from Beaufront, a Merino property in Tas, with Ms Riggs saying Merino wool was "the best fibre in the world".

"My favourite things about using wool in my label is that it's renewable, you are supporting the environment whilst looking good," she said.

"I also love its qualities of keeping you warm in the cold and its ability to be cooling in the summer."

The garments are made in Melbourne using whole garment technology, a manufacturing technique that produces garments with no waste.

"It's not that common (for people to use whole garment technology), because it's quite expensive manufacturing," she said.

It is early days, but Ms Riggs already has four garments for sale - a singlet and three jumpers - and has received encouraging feedback to-date.

"I had a lady say that she felt really gorgeous in (her iris + wool garment) and loved the feel of it all and the fit, it's all been really positive so far," she said.

A spring/summer range has been designed, which will be available later in the year.

Garments are available online and are also in store at Oak and Elm, Clare, with Ms Riggs' sights set on further expansion in the future.

"I'd love to have my own little shop one day and then get into high-end boutiques as well," she said.

FASHION FOCUS: Nikki Atkinson, Port Augusta, launched Liv Sienne in 2013, with the label coming ahead in leaps and bounds since its establishment.

FASHION FOCUS: Nikki Atkinson, Port Augusta, launched Liv Sienne in 2013, with the label coming ahead in leaps and bounds since its establishment.

From a childhood in Buckleboo, filled with taping pieces of material together to dress her dolls, to seeing her works paraded on the New York catwalk, Nikki Atkinson has always held strong to her country values when designing items for her clothing label Liv Sienne, which she launched in 2013.

Ms Atkinson lives on a property in the Flinders Ranges where her and husband Dallas run 7000 to 8000 Merinos.

She is passionate about products being Australian-made.

"It's really important to try to keep some of those skills, because everything is going offshore, and it's just really important to showcase that we can still sew and we can still make items from scratch," she said.

"Not everything has to be made in Bangladesh or India or China," she said.

Garments are available online and in her Port Augusta shop, where Ms Atkinson also stocks other designer labels, many using Australian Merino wool.

"It's really good to see that other people are jumping on board," she said.

"And it's becoming so popular now, people are more educated about the wool and the amazing fabric that it is."

Ms Atkinson creates all her products in-house, which has led to positive support from customers.

"I get lots of feedback from people saying its nice to see, nice to support, being able to wear something that's made right here in Port Augusta," she said.

Details: irisandwool.com and livsienne.com.au

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