We catch up with Stuart McCullough from Australian Wool Innovation Limited (AWI). He describes the close relationship between AWI and The Australian Wool Fashion Awards’ Director Liz Foster and how together, they are changing direction in 2012.
Tell us about your employer, Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) …
Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) is a not-for-profit company which invests in research, development and marketing along the global supply chain for Australian wool – from woolgrowers through to retailers. Quintessentially, our goal is to increase the demand for wool. AWI has been around since 2001, and in 2007 acquired the Woolmark – one of the most recognised textile symbols in the world.
The Woolmark is a huge asset to Australian woolgrowers; it’s a stamp of assurance of quality. Since the creation of the Woolmark in the ‘60s, it has been applied to over two billion garments.
At the moment, our team is tirelessly working to reinstate the Woolmark to its glory of the ‘70s and ‘80s; we want to bring that level of recognition and value to the next generation.
How did you first get into the wool industry?
I started my career in wool as a Jackeroo on a sheep farm out near Ongerup. Since then, I’ve moved onto business management roles that have given me a well rounded view and understanding of the industry, providing the knowledge and tools to lead AWI in its mission to generate global demand for wool.
My experience within the industry has included roles including wool classer, wool testing, international wool exporter, trader and buyer and global sales managements and USA Regional Manager for AWI.
How is AWI involved with The Australian Wool Fashion Awards (TAWFA)?
For more than ten years, we’ve thrown our support behind TAWFA. For us, supporting the future of these awards and donating wool fabric that these designers can incorporate into their creations is at the grassroots of what AWI is all about.
The awards aim to encourage young designers and show them what a beautiful and versatile fibre Australian Merino Wool is to work with, so it’s a natural fit with our objectives.
AWI work hand in hand with Liz Foster and the TAWFA team to ensure that these talented creatives get all the support and opportunities their work deserves.
How closely do you work with TAWFA’s Managing Director, Liz Foster?
Our team work closely with Liz Foster, and over the years we’ve formed a really strong and mutually beneficial relationship.
How are the awards changing direction this year?
As always, TAWFA love to throw up a challenge for the designers! This year the secondary school section is themed ‘Glee Inspired’, and the always impressive wearable art category is themed Elizabethan. There are also a couple of new categories, with workwear and racewear thrown into the mix.
Why is this a special year for TAWFA?
This year is special for TAWFA, as the awards will return to their historical home in Armidale. Nestled right in the heart of one of Australia’s largest wool growing regions, bringing the awards back to Armidale only reinforces the deep connection between these designers, the fibre and the people who grow it.
Even more fitting with the return of the Awards to Armidale is that 2012 marks The Year of the Farmer – it’s hard to think of a better way to celebrate than in such an important wool growing region and with the bright sparks of fashion’s future.
So far the community support for the event has been so strong, and we are looking forward to this growing as the event draws closer – and further when the winners are announced.
This year, media personality Deborah Hutton will be adding her own special touch to the awards night, kindly giving her time and support to MC the night.
Tell us about the venue you are using this year?
This year the awards will be held at the beautiful Petersons Winery & Guesthouse, and Liz and I can’t imagine a better location.
The charm and character of the house, combined with the grandeur and space of the surrounding grounds make Petersons the ultimate venue; the possibilities here for us to test out our imaginations are almost endless.
Final word …
We look forward to seeing first hand how wool inspires the imaginations of these designers in what will be an important and historical event for the wool industry.