Woolerina Walks Us Through The Fair, Local Production Of Their Merino Wool Turtlenecks

by: Well Made Clothes Staff | 3 months ago | Features

Image: Pippa (left) and Penny (right) from Woolerina.

We love turtlenecks, and we love them even more when they’re fairly- and locally-made from Merino wool, which is why we’re so pleased to stock – and wear! – Woolerina.

Woolerina is a family company founded by Warwick Rolfe in 2005 and still run by Warwick and his daughters Pippa and Penny. Warwick hand-sources the Merino wool ensuring its extremely high quality, and Woolerina’s pieces are then fairly- and locally-made in Woolerina’s production facilities in Forbes, NSW.

We asked Pippa from Woolerina to walk us through the history of Woolerina, how Woolerina garments are made today, and how Woolerina reduces its impacts, and she obliged! Read our interview with Pippa from Woolerina below, and check out our selection of Woolerina here.

Well Made Clothes: Woolerina is a family business that has been around for quite some time. Can you give us the background of the business?

Pippa McConnell: Woolerina was started in 2005 by my Dad, Warwick Rolfe. Warwick had had many years’ experience in the Australian Wool Industry as a wool buyer and then a broker. He had a dream to take raw Merino wool and follow it through all stages of processing to a finished article of clothing. In the beginning, the entire supply chain was Australian with Warwick hand-selecting the raw wool and then working closely with local processors and local manufacturing businesses to create the Woolerina collection. Over time as the industry has changed, and we now have to send the raw material off-shore for processing and spinning, but the yarn is returned to Australia for us to create our fabrics here and we now have the majority of our production in-house at our work rooms at Forbes. There have been many challenges but he is very proud of his achievements and found it very rewarding.

WMC: Why do you believe in wool as a fibre?

Pippa: Warwick has had a strong passion for wool from the day he walked into the Sydney sales room 40-something years ago!  Dad's passion for the wool fibre has been passed down to my sister Penny and I who both work in the business alongside Dad. We love that it is a natural fibre, that it’s biodegradable and breathable and that when you choose the “right” raw wool, it feels luxurious next to the skin.

WMC: Walk us through your production process. I understand your Dad sources the wool and it goes from there, and is all kept pretty local?

Pippa: Yes, Dad sources the wool for our annual collection. The raw material is shipped to China as there is simply no processing plants left in Australia to be able to spin the fine counts of yarn that we require. The wool comes back to us in Australia as cones of yarn, it is then knitted into beautiful rolls of fabric and dyed in our seasonal colours in Melbourne. The rolls of fabric then come back to us at our work rooms in Forbes NSW. We do all the cutting and sewing of the garments in-house and they are then stored in our warehouse at Forbes, ready to be shipped to their new owner.

Each collection is very much a collaborative effort between our team to come up with new styles and colours; we are lucky to be able to do all of design, pattern making and sampling in-house. Our philosophy is to create designs that are timeless and will last their owner many seasons.

WMC: You’ve chosen to be locally-made, and also Ethical Clothing Australia accredited. Why was this important to you?

Pippa: Being Ethical Clothing Australia-accredited is extremely important to us as it is represents our commitment to our workers, ensuring they are paid in accordance with Australian workplace laws and that we’re providing them with a safe workplace.

WMC: Why do you think, more generally, supporting locally-made fashion matters?

Pippa: If we can support local brands this keeps business in our country, meaning more jobs for Aussies!! There are so many people that are extremely clever in this industry, and I believe it’s so lovely to be able to support them.

WMC: What do you think the biggest problems in the fashion industry are right now?

Pippa: Unfairly paid and treated workers, and garment waste; an oversupply of clothing that then ends up in landfill when it is not purchased or when it has only been worn a few times and becomes out of fashion.

WMC: What do you think the key things we as designers and consumers can do to work towards a better fashion industry?

For designers I think it’s important to create smaller collections and pieces that are stylish and classic so they can be worn for many years. I also feel it’s important for brands and designers to educate their customers on what they are doing to make a better fashion industry and being transparent with all aspects of their manufacturing. That way consumers can make good choices and be aware of the skills involved in creating clothing, therefore hopefully leading to a greater appreciation of their clothes.

Consumers need to buy less and also educate themselves on the impact of the fast fashion industry, this way they can make better choices and support brands that really are doing good things for the fashion industry.

WMC: What are you and the team working on at the moment?

Pippa: Our team is busy sewing our winter 2021 collection! We will start sampling in the coming weeks of our winter 2022 collection and we are also very excited to be working on another little project that is about recycling, can’t give too much away but we are really looking forward to sharing this in the coming months.

Thanks Pippa!

Shop our selection of Woolerina here.

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