A STAPLE FIBRE
With his tattoo sleeves, bright orange sneakers and signature ‘arms-folded-across-his-chest’ stance, Nick Wooster may have felt a little out of place standing in the middle of a sheep paddock somewhere in the Australian outback.
But this was far from the truth.
“I could spend three days here,” Wooster exclaimed as he discovered different parts of ‘Elan Dolan’ Merino Stud in Victoria, Australia. “And I never want to leave the city!”
Wooster was on a whirlwind nine-day tour ‘Down Under’ as part of a new partnership with The Woolmark Company, learning more about where the fibre he is so passionate about actually comes from and meeting with leading Australian brands to offer insight into the USA’s apparel market.
Melvin Tanaya and Lyna Ty of Australian menswear label Song for the Mute demonstrating that wool fabric is water resistant.
As the global authority on wool looks for new opportunities for the fibre, the contemporary fashion segment of the apparel market is crucial. The USA remains an important market for this category and is known as the birthplace for contemporary fashion. Wooster, a leading tastemaker in the menswear industry, is extremely instrumental in the USA and his sartorial commentary is well-followed worldwide. With more than 345,000 followers on Instagram, Wooster’s influential voice and affection for Merino wool make him a natural fit for The Woolmark Company.
“I always say wool is the cornerstone of a man’s wardrobe; a great wool suit or sweater will never go out of style,” says Wooster. “Merino wool is the most versatile, noble fibre; I grew up having every type of wool garment in my wardrobe so it’s always been a necessary part of my fashion vocabulary.”
TOUR DOWN UNDER
During Wooster’s hands-on trip to Australia, his wealth of sartorial knowledge – particularly regarding the US market – was passed on to fashion designers and university students.
Whilst in Melbourne, Wooster delivered an inspiring talk to RMIT fashion students and met with Melbourne-based brands Driza-Bone, Strateas.Carlucci and From Britten P/L, and visited luxury department store for men, Harrolds. In Sydney, he met with leading brands Jac+ Jack, Song for the Mute, Patrick Johnson Tailors, M.J. Bale and Bassike, connecting with these labels that have a reputation for working with Australian Merino wool.
But perhaps what Wooster will remember most was escaping the cities and going back to the very source where wool is produced. Visiting Jock McCrae’s ‘Elan Donan’ property in Victoria, and ‘Avenel’ run by Colin McCrabb in NSW, Wooster was inspired by the natural beauty of the landscape as well as the obvious respect Jock and Colin have for their flocks.
“To spend the morning in the city and to now be two-and-a-half hours away in a place that’s a completely different world, it’s magical; it’s something that you just can’t describe. And then to see something and experience something that’s so incredibly beautiful, it’s really fascinating.
“These guys (the farmers) have to be meteorologists, veterinarians, geneticists; they have to have mastery of so many skills. But to really understand how much respect Jock has for these sheep it’s really touching. He (Jock) clearly enjoys himself and he’s been able to share that with us – if he came to New York I don’t know that I could return the favour.”
Jock McCrae showing Nick Wooster the fine fleece on one of his rams.
After the visit Jock said Wooster’s fascination with both the Australian landscape and Merino sheep was obvious, and it was an honour to link Australia’s woolgrowing industry to someone of Wooster’s status.
“It was a fantastic opportunity to meet men’s style icon Nick Wooster,” Jock said. “Nick was fascinated at how we manage and improve landscapes with Merino, the versatility and beauty of the fibre, the care shown to the animals. Our story is a good one and there is a willing audience.
“Nick’s world in New York seems like a million miles away, yet we are inextricably linked through Merino wool, and with Nick I believe we have developed a champion for our wonderful fibre. We need more people like him.”