New Zealand may have been triumphant in the rugby, but when it comes to the finest wool in the world, they’ve been beaten by their neighbours across the Tasmanian Sea….
In 2000, Loro Piana established an annual challenge with the aim of supporting breeders and obtaining wool of increasingly higher quality and fineness, in their endless quest for the best raw materials. Each year, the best Australian and New Zealand bales produced in the previous calendar year are selected, and a distinguished jury comprised of the Presidents of the Australian Superfine Wool Growers’ Association and the Director of the New Zealand Stud Merino Breeders Society certifies that each bale fulfils the required weight, length and resistance criteria. When the fibre reaches a record fineness – one that has never previously been achieved – it is recognised as the World Wool Record Bale.
Since 1997, Loro Piana has acquired these bales of wool – 36 to date – through public auction. The first bale, from New Zealand, weighed 100 kilograms and measured just over 13 microns, in other words slightly less than 3 microns over the bale holding the current record. Due to continued collaboration and the breeders’ tireless efforts, these have reached increasingly higher quality standards: in just eighteen years, the fineness of the fibre has improved by almost 30%.
This year, the prize was awarded to the Australian farm Pyrenees Park (in Victoria) owned by Pamela and Robert Sandlant, who have surpassed their own previous winning result and retained first place for the second consecutive year, gathering a bale measuring 10.3 microns. This unprecedented result beats the New Zealand farm Lindis Ridges (in Ashburton) owned by Anna Emmerson, who competed with a bale of 10.6 microns. Australia therefore overtakes New Zealand once again in this intense Record Bale competition, bringing home a new world record.
With such a prestigious victory, the previous holder of the “record of records” – known as the World Wool Record Bale (a title currently held by the 2012 New Zealand bale measuring 10.6 microns) – relinquishes its place on the throne of the best extra fine wool in the world to a new champion. The Pyrenees Park bale will be safeguarded as a sacred icon until it is eventually dethroned by a finer fibre, subsequently going into production to become the prized Record Bale yarn and fabric. This year’s runner-up, together with the 2012 winner – whose 10.6 micronages happen to equal one another – will go into production for the creation of a new, limited and exclusive range of bespoke garments available from 2016.
As rare and precious as gemstones, the Record Bale fabrics represent the best in the production of prized wools: they feature exclusive patterns and are characterised by a special selvedge that documents the year of shearing, as well as the fibre’s provenance and fineness. Only about 40 made-to-measure suits are obtained using the 150 metres of the Record Bale, fashioned in Loro Piana boutiques and in select top tailoring shops around the world.
Facts And Figures
– Australia: 75 million sheep (2014), of which just 18 million produce wools finer than 19 microns
– New Zealand: 32 million sheep (2014), of which just 2.2 million produce fibres finer than 21 micron
– 1 Bale = the shorn wool of 60/100 sheep
– 1 Bale = approximately 150 metres of fabric (depending on the yield)
– 1 Bale = approximately 40 garments
– 1 Fleece = the wool of a single sheep, which can weigh up to 2.5 kg, of which just 1/1.5 kg of the finest part can be used for producing the Record Bale
For further information, visit www.loropiana.com.