Socks made with New Zealand red deer fibre are selling in
London for the equivalent of just over $NZ1700. Photo
Forget holiday sales. How about a pair of socks this
retail season, made from the fibre of Rudolph's second cousins?
But be warned, the price tag is ''fairly deer''.
Tauranga-based company Douglas Creek has provided the fibre
for some of the world's most expensive socks.
A limited production run of 100 pairs of socks was launched
this month by luxury men's footwear and accessories brand
Harrys of London, retailing for the hefty sum of £895
The Cervelt fibre, from which the socks are made, is the
superfine down fibre of the New Zealand red deer, some of
which the company sourced from Otago. It took 12 years to
bring to market, managing director Bert McGhee said.
After doing a lot of tests, it was decided it was ''worth a
venture'' and the company developed the equipment necessary
to process the fibre.
With only about 20g of fibre collected from each deer, the
down of 40 red deer was needed to make a man's overcoat.
The fibre had proven to be ''extraordinary'', Mr McGhee said.
He has a background in mechanical engineering.
It could be spun into very fine counts of woollen yarn which
had a broad application in men's and women's knitwear, light
woven fabrics and accessories. It could also be used as a
textile for luxury furnishings.
It was much finer than cashmere and stronger and more
durable. It also could be dyed almost any colour, which set
it apart from other luxury natural fibres, like vicuna, he
The project was ''a bit more difficult'' than had initially
been anticipated, as they had to figure out how to collect
and separate the fibre from the coarse outer hair, and make
it commercial, but it was not in his nature to ''give up too
easily'', he said.
Asked why he had persevered for so long with the project, Mr
McGhee said: ''Because this, as far as I'm concerned, is the
best fibre in the world''.
Most of the fibre was sourced from the South Island. New
Zealand red deer were given to the Otago province by the Earl
of Dalhousie in 1870, from his estate in Invermark, Scotland.
The animals of the Otago red deer herd were possibly the only
surviving gene pool of pure stock of the subspecies, Cervus
Elaphus, Scoticus, in the world.
While Cervelt was used in luxury European fashion houses,
like LVMH, Hermes and Giorgio Armani, it was the first time
the fibre had been used in socks.
Being used in socks showed how strong the fibre was. He was
excited about the potential in Asia for the fibre, saying
that was the company's next target.
Deer Industry New Zealand producer manager Tony Pearse
welcomed the innovation, saying the concept had been around a
few years and he was thrilled somebody had been able to take
it to the market.
''I can't imagine it's been an easy process,'' he said.