CONTINUALLY looking for the best ways to promote Australian Merino wool means The Woolmark Company partners with companies and conducts campaigns that often aren't visible in Australia or Western Australia, but are having great success highlighting Australian Merino on the world stage.
One such initiative is The Woolmark Company's support of Norwegian-based sports and outdoor brand Ulvang.
The Ulvang brand and its business is completely based on wool and with the backing of Woolmark, it is expanding into and targeting new geographical markets and sports sectors.
According to Woolmark, Ulvang already has a large presence in Northern Europe and aims to expand further into other European markets, while also focussing on making its first move into the Chinese market.
What is Ulvang, you may ask?
The Ulvang brand was founded by high-profile Olympic gold medallist, Vergard Ulvang.
One of Norway's most successful cross-country skiers, Vergard Ulvang won three Olympic gold medals in 1992, as well as World Championship gold medals in 1991 and 1993.
He is also an avid adventurer, who has appeared on travel and adventure programs, having climbed in both the Himalaya and Caucasus Mountains, reached the South Pole, completed a crossing of both Greenland and the Northwest Passage on skis and extensively traversed the mountain ranges of his home country.
According to Mr Ulvang, wool is the only fibre good enough to use in competitions and expeditions and the slogan for the Ulvang brand is fittingly - 'We are wool'.
The Ulvang brand made its foray into the market in 1995, with its first product, a wool sock.
In the 25 years since, Ulvang has expanded to produce a wide-range of base-layers, mid-layers and accessories, including hats and socks to be firmly established in the ski and outdoor clothing markets.
Ulvang's Rav 100 per cent base-layer series uses 100pc Merino wool and is one of its best sellers.
"The brand's aim has always been to facilitate great experiences for our customers in nature," Mr Ulvang said.
"I am very proud to have contributed to the movement away from synthetic base layers to wool products."
Utilising Merino wool the brand focussed its marketing on the benefits of wool's natural properties and next-to skin comfort, while also highlighting factors including environmental protection, social responsibility and animal welfare.
"The Woolmark Company has had a healthy relationship with Ulvang for a number of years and the recent collaboration was two-fold," said Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) chief executive officer Stuart McCullogh.
"Firstly, it allowed us to expand Australian Merino wool's strong presence in the outdoor-wear market and introduce the fibre to the brand's high-intensity performance range.
"Secondly, Ulvang has expanded its summer offering with lightweight Merino wool apparel for the warmer months.
"This amplifies wool's presence in the northern hemisphere as the ultimate year-round technical performance fibre."
With The Woolmark Company supporting Ulvang in its campaign, it hopes to further increase the volume of Australian Merino wool garments being sold.
Ulvang aims to increase its focus on high intensity sports, such as cross-country skiing, while also expanding into warmer season sports like running.
Ulvang takes the extra step of highlighting the traceability of its apparel, following the current consumer trends - where provenance is a huge factor in consumer decision making.
On the Ulvang website they have featured a video tracing the fibre back to the property of origin.
The property featured is Australian Ulvang supplier, Nanimia, Snake Valley, Western Victoria, owned and run by the Pitcher family.
The Pitchers typically run 5000 sheep, averaging 18-19 micron, on their 800 hectare property.
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