NZ possum hits fashion catwalk

Basically Bush fur presser Roger Crombie checks and presses hand-plucked possum fur at the...
Basically Bush fur presser Roger Crombie checks and presses hand-plucked possum fur at the company's tannery in Woodville. Photo by Basically Bush Ltd.
With apologies to Dame Edna, it's Goodbye Possums.

New Zealand's possum fur industry is estimated to be worth $130 million annually to the country's economy.

Perino, a blend of possum fur and cashmere or merino yarn, recently featured on the catwalk in garments from the latest collections from Zambesi and The Noble Savage.

While possum is popular in the tourist market, the move into high fashion is exciting Lower Hutt manufacturer Woolyarns NZ, which sees big returns.

''High-end fashion designers are asking for more from their suppliers. Products need to meet high standards in regards to quality and sustainability. Perino fits all these criteria,'' Woolyarns marketing manager Jimad Khan said.

Perino used brushtail possum fur, cashmere or fine merino wool, he said. Yarns were lightweight, low-pilling, breathable, and anti-odour.

Woolyarns plans to exhibit its Perino yarn collection at next year's Pitti Immagine Filati in Florence, Italy, the main international event for the knitting yarn industry.

Presenting Perino to the international market was an important next step for Woolyarns as it expanded into high fashion, Mr Khan said. Woolyarns' aim was to increase sales of Perino by 25% through export sales over the next two years.

The company sources all its possum fibre from Basically Bush, which is based in Wairata, Opotiki. The business, established by Steve and Sue Boot in 1998, harvests possums and processes possum skins at the company's tannery in Woodville, southern Hawkes Bay.

It sourced about 45 tonnes nationally and about 1500kg of that came from Otago and Southland, Mrs Boot said.

Globally, fur was very fashionable and possum fur trim added to garments was also proving ''a huge hit'', she said.


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