Oritain gains Aust partners

Scientists Dr Olya Shatova (left) and Dr Katherine Jones examine wool samples at Oritain's Dunedin office yesterday. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
Scientists Dr Olya Shatova (left) and Dr Katherine Jones examine wool samples at Oritain's Dunedin office yesterday. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
Dunedin-based product and supply chain traceability specialist Oritain has partnered with Australian fashion giant Country Road in what has been described as an Australian first.

A range of merino knitwear will be launched in stores throughout Australia this month and every fibre of the range could be verified as sourced from Australian farms.

Country Road was the first Australian retailer to partner with Oritain, which used a scientific approach to verify where the wool in each garment came from.

Country Road managing director Elle Roseby said there was a strong story about traceability in fashion and Country Road customers were increasingly keen to know the origin of their purchases.

''At Country Road, we value the provenance of our products and strive for visibility of where and how our raw materials are farmed,'' she said.

''For the first time in Australian history, we're proud to not only be able to trace every fibre of this range to local farms but to verify that every garment is made of 100% Australian wool.''

Oritain Australia managing director Sandon Adams said verifying origin was a rigorous process.

''The geochemistry of the environment differs based on where in the world you are. Some environments are nutrient rich, some are poor, some are high in elements, some are low,'' he said.

''These differences are what we measure, using the results to create a chemical fingerprint. We've mapped the chemical fingerprint of Australia and the majority of the world for wool, which we then use to verify where a product has originated.''

Oritain science team leader Katherine Jones said Oritain had been working with wool for a while. Wools of New Zealand was its first wool customer.

The partnership with Country Road was an exciting development and there were huge opportunities in that space, Dr Jones said.

Oritain had worked with a lot of brands ''behind the scenes'' but this was the first brand that wanted the company to be ''part of their story.''

For Dr Jones, it was a particularly special project, as her brother-in-law Willie Jones and his wife Emily farm Matarae Station, a renowned fine-wool property near Middlemarch.

Wool was a passion for the Jones family and she had seen first-hand the care and knowledge that went into producing the fibre.

The Country Road initiative might be in Australia but it was ''telling the story of wool''. And that was about knowing there was so much more in a garment than ''just off the shelf'' - it was from the farmer growing the wool, to the workers who produced the garments.

''I have a real passion for bringing this fibre story now ... I feel privileged,'' Dr Jones said.

Fellow scientist Dr Olya Shatova said there was no doubt the publicity around the Country Road range would bring more business to Oritain. It was ''definitely'' a breakthrough in the fibre space.

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