THE China-Australia free trade agreement (ChAFTA) is already paying off for the wool industry, with Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) teaming up with a major Chinese menswear retailer for an historic marketing collaboration.
The AWI-owned Woolmark Company today signed a marketing collaboration agreement with China's leading purveyor of luxury menswear, The Eve Group.
The agreement was signed during the Australia China Business Council's (ACBC) 'thinking big' Australia China entrepreneur dialogue forum.
This was the first Chinese business group to visit Australia after the Chinese President and Australian Prime Minister announced the formalisation of the ChAFTA.
The Chinese delegation consisted of more than 20 successful business leaders from various industries.
The Eve Group has over 500 premium stores throughout China and will use the Woolmark Gold branding on their menswear suits.
Made from superfine Australian Merino wool, the fabric is produced by a number of Woolmark Gold licensed weaving companies in Europe (the Woolmark Gold guild), including Vitale Barberis Canonico, Reda, Dormeuil and Scabal.
AWI Global chief strategy and marketing officer Rob Langtry said China had long been the Australian wool industry's dominant manufacturing partner, with over 70 per cent of our greasy wool being converted into top and yarn in China for the past few decades.
"In recent years this relationship has evolved. With the increase in Chinese living standards, the Chinese consumer now has the income, the climate and the aspiration to consume half that wool as end products.
"With the Governments of China and Australia having now finalised a free trade agreement we expect that trend to accelerate.
"Over the past 20 years we have seen Chinese companies enter and begin to develop the market for luxury apparel in China."
The Eve Group was founded in 1994 with its business scope encompassing clothing, living aesthetics, gifts and many other cultural and creative fields.
It also owns, or is agent for, many high-ranking international mens' fashion brands.
Mr Langtry said AWI was proud to sign a marketing co-operation agreement with Eve.
"This collaborative effort will, we believe, accelerate the understanding, acceptance and sale of high quality fashion made from Australian Merino wool through Eve's very strong network of 535 boutiques across China.
"We wish The Eve Group all the best and stand ready to help them grow the demand for quality wool apparel," he said.