McIntyre’s Founders On Their 150 Year History With Australian Merino Wool

9 months ago | Features

Image: McIntyre's co-founders, Ned Scholfeld (CEO) and Raquel Boedo (Creative Director).



Ned Scholfeld and Raquel Boedo, the co-founders of McIntyre knitwear, decided to launch their label after spending one year working on Ned’s father’s Merino farm, soaking up, and being inspired by, over 150 years of Merino wool farming by their family. Here, Ned and Raquel chat about that history, the importance of transparent and local production, and what we can expect from the label in the future.

Well Made Clothes: You’ve got a multi-generational family history with Merino wool. Can you tell us a little bit about this and what growing up in this environment was like?
Ned: We sure do, I (Ned) grew up on a merino sheep farm in western victoria. Our family has been farming this land for over 100 years, and it was first settled by my ancestor Duncan McIntyre in 1846. We have been running merino sheep on the property ever since!

Growing up on a sheep farm was awsome! Lot’s of adventures to be had, and an amazing sense of freedom.

WMC: When and why did you decide to move into wool clothing production?
Ned: In 2011 Raquel and I worked on the property for a year to help my father out, and the seeds for McIntyre were sewn. We then formally started the brand in 2016.

Being on the farm and getting an understanding of the fibre really inspired us, and we started McIntyre to share this love of Merino with a new audience. We felt there wasn't a brand in the market that specialised in Australian Merino wool that talked to people like us.

We wanted to make Merino wool cool again!

WMC: Why do you enjoy working with wool as a fibre?
Ned: So many reasons but here are our top ones!
It soft & and comfortable.
It's warm, but breathable and needs washing much less than synthetic fibres.
It's grown naturally by sheep eating grass - how good is that!
It is biodegradable, so will break down after the garment's life.

WMC: What values underpin McIntyre the label?
Ned: Wool doesn't have to be boring!
Everything is made with 100% Merino wool.

WMC: And what aesthetics underpin McIntyre the label?
Ned: Colour! Raquel loves colour, and you can see this come through in our collections.
Classic silhouettes that don't go out of fashion.

WMC: Can you walk us through the production of a garment: from sourcing the wool, to having it spun and dyed, to having it knitted, to the finished product?
Ned: We source 100% Australian Merino wool which is scoured in Victoria. It is then spun and dyed in China, and we knit the garments in Melbourne, Ballarat, Sydney and Vietnam.

WMC: Why is being made in Australia important to you?
Ned: Australia has a long history of making quality knitwear, we really enjoy working with the family run factories that are left to make great quality locally made garments.

WMC: What are the biggest challenges of making quality wool products in Australia?
Ned: A lot of the production went off shore in the 1990’s. Nowadays the factories that are left are really small and don't have the newest equipment which can limit the things you can make here. Our strategy with this has been to make classic styles here in Australia.

However the biggest challenge is for the factories to find skilled staff who want to sew and finish knitwear. We really need younger workers to take up some jobs in the industry for it to continue to grow.

WMC: Are there also benefits to producing in Australia from locally-sourced raw materials?
Ned: For us the benefits of making in Australia are the fact that we can easily drive to our factories and talk through design changes, production issues, & quality control. When making overseas these things can be much more difficult to manage.

WMC: What do you think are the biggest problems in the fashion industry today?
Ned: The fast fashion industry has trained a lot of consumers to expect things at a really low price. The reality is if a garment is really cheap, somebody along the line is getting exploited.

WMC: And do you think we can overcome them? If so, how?
Ned: Yes, quality products, great design and creative is how we tackle this.

WMC: What are you working on with McIntyre at the moment?
Ned: Collating ideas for AW21! But picture this, very colourful!

WMC: And do you have any thoughts on the future of wool clothing production? Any exciting technical or environmental advancements you’ve come across you’d like to share? Anything specific with McIntyre you’re excited about working on?
Ned: There is lots of innovation going on in this space, however for now we are trying to focus on classic quality knitwear. 

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