PM’s Wool And Jade Suit Combines Kiwi Ingenuity, European Expertise
A wool and jade suit made for New Zealandís Prime Minister, John Key, to wear at the royal wedding is the product of Kiwi ingenuity and European clothmaking expertise.
Two years ago Marlborough farmer Richard Bell imagined blending micro particles of jade, or pounamu, into his Haldon Range wool fibre used globally for upmarket fashion apparel.
He discussed the idea with jade sculptor Ian Boustridge of Greymouth and samples of the stone were sent to European clothmaker Dormeuil for testing on Haldon Range superfine wool.
"Trials showed that minute jade particles washed into the woven fibre created a finished cloth smoother and softer than any high fashion wool garment made previously," Richard said.
"Its tactile qualities encouraged Dormeuil to manufacturer a new line of wool-jade cloth and make it available to leading tailors around the world."
One of these, RJB Design of Auckland, has made the first suit from the cloth for the Prime Minister to wear to the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.
Richard said the unique qualities of wool-jade cloth presented worldwide sales potential at the premium end of the apparel market.
Ian Boustridge, an expert in working with jade, said the fibrous nature of the stone when reduced enables it to lock into wool fibres and gives a distinctive feel to the end product.
"The manufacturing process had to be proven by Dormeuil, but is not surprising given the extremely smooth feel of jade when polished."
Richard said Haldon Range wool is grown exclusively to Dormeuil specifications on his Marlborough high country station.
"After 20 years of genetically selecting for highly specified wool quality, we have now gone a step further by adding a new dimension to wool exports."