Wool Fashion Designer Addresses Congress
(June 1, 2012) The opening session of the International Wool Textile Organization Congress included a keynote address from renown U.S. designer, Joseph Abboud. Abboud, who uses wool in almost 80 percent of all his collections, spoke to the congress about his inspirations, HMX Group Inc. and his “love afair with wool.”
From his days as a design director at Ralph Lauren, to the development of his own collection and now as chief creative officer at HMX, Abboud says that wool has been the foundation for each one, citing, “I can’t imagine a world without wool. I think of it as a staple in our lives.
“Wool has given me a new way to see fashion in the world,” says Abboud, who sources domestically, as well as globally, and still constructs some suit styles in the United States. “There is an ever-growing desire for those organic elements from our world that has nurtured, clothed and sheltered us from the beginning of history. What better example is there than wool…natural, renewable, sustainable.”
While discussing the opportunities that exist in the United States for creativity and innovation, Abboud requests that the wool industry continue to find it’s point of difference and offer brands and retailers the ability to convey their unique stories.
Addoud posed the question, “What can the wool industry do for designers and manufacturers to ensure the growth and prosperity for our mutual benefit?” The answer, “Bring us innovation, new constructions, new yarns, new colors, new textures, new finishes. Give us exclusivity, flexibility with minimums and join creative initiatives that benefit all of us.”
In addition, educating the consumer on the price value of wool is crucial he relayed. “Wool has always been synonomous with quality, but consumers don’t exactly know why that is,” he explains, stating properties of wool like breathability, recovery and resiliency.
Abboud set the tone of the congress by discussing the need for wool products to be available at all levels of retail distribution and easily accessible to all generations. “There is no replacement for wool, but it is our obligation to find new ways to bring it to the market for younger consumers who are just learning what wool is. The industry needs to find a way to address the creativity in design.”
“The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) was very pleased Mr. Abboud accepted our invitation to keynote the congress, not only as an internationally recognized designer and supporter of wool, but that the hang tags on his suits and sport coats boast ‘American Designed, American Produced,’” says Peter Orwick, executive director of ASI.