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Research Keeps Kiwi Fibre Up With The Best

A Canterbury company has recently completed ground-breaking research that will help preserve its pre-eminence in high value exports of luxury garments to the top fashion houses of Europe and the United States.

The Escorial Company in Hawarden produces some of the world's finest apparel from rare escorial wool.

Managing director Peter Radford says leading edge research has delivered some bright results that will ensure New Zealand escorial apparel remains distinctive.

"Funding and support from Technology New Zealand - part of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology - allowed us to test the fibre and better define its differences compared with merino and cashmere," Mr Radford says.

"This work is quite a major breakthrough and it will definitely help us build our product in the luxury fabrics market.

"We have been able to clearly identify its characteristics and tie it into a computer program that increases our ability to produce even finer-quality garments."

The fibre is from a breed of sheep that originated in North Africa and was favoured in the 16th century by King Felipe II of Spain, who housed his flock in the famous monastery El Escorial. The fibre was "re-discovered" by the Radford family, who started building a flock of sheep in New Zealand in 1982.

Italian tailors and Paris couturiers alike have snapped up the Escorial products, observing that the wool is a "fleece fit for a king". The company made a brilliant debut into the world of high fashion and luxury clothing in 1999 with $40 million of retail business.

-ends-

Contact: * Peter Radford, Escorial, Ph: (03) 314-4416. Fax: (03) 314-4516. * Nigel Metge, Technology New Zealand at the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (Auckland Office), (09) 912-6730, or 021 454-095. Website: www.technz.co.nz

Prepared on behalf of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology by ID Communications. Contact: Ian Carson (04) 477-2525, ian@idcomm.co.nz


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