Wool tech's fashionable move

24 Jan, 2013 01:00 AM
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YOUNG WA fashion designers will be even more hands-on in their use of fine wool thanks to a revolutionary knitting machine at the new Fashion Design Hub at Curtin University.

The unique Shima Seiki WholeGarment Knitting System, formerly used in the wool research program of the Department of Agriculture and Food, has been relocated to the new Hub.

The move will provide opportunities for the WA wool industry by exposing young fashion designers to the unique properties of fine wool as well as giving them access to the Shima Seiki, which produces knitwear in one entire piece three-dimensionally, directly on the knitting machine.

Department Livestock Innovation director Bruce Mullan said the knitting machine was purchased in 2005 as part of a research project aimed at maximising the value of wool by encouraging young fashion designers to use this unique product.

“Following the project’s completion it was considered more appropriate to investigate opportunities for use of the technology by industry and lease of the equipment, including a 3D full body measurement scanner, was put out to tender,” Dr Mullan said.

“It is pleasing to have signed a three-year lease with Curtin University and for this equipment to form a key component of the Fashion Design Hub.”

As well as linking into national research, the Hub will service the local WA fashion industry and allow designers and other users access to the Shima Seiki.

Anne Farren, Curtin’s Academic Coordinator of Fashion and Director of the Fashion Design and Research Hub, said just as technology had shaped the way people communicated and socialised, so too had it shaped the future of fashion, with specialist machinery now able to assist in the conception, design and construction of garments.

Ms Farren has worked with department researchers for the past eight years and continues to work with local wool growers on product development and investigations into the application of wool to garment.

“The department is delighted that the investment in state-of-the-art technology required for our previous wool research can now be accessed by students and fashion industry professionals alike,” Dr Mullan said.

“We hope this leads to greater innovations in wool garment production and increased opportunities for Western Australian wool growers.”

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