Press Release

Hugh DouglasLike most who emerge from humble beginnings, owner of Weft Knitting Co. Ltd – Hugh Douglas – hasn’t forgotten his roots.

Twenty years on from its inception, the fundamental ethos of his company is echoed through every aspect of its thermal and knitwear creations.

Weft’s philosophy of product quality, development and design were pivotal elements of its latest range of Black Label Merino Possum, launched on August 22.

Black Label maintains a degree of exclusivity in terms of where it’s stocked, as Douglas likes to support those who supported him when he was starting out. Weft sales manager Mark Seaward said: “Hugh never forgets where he came from. Particularly in smaller towns, we tend to stock our Merino Possum brand in only one outlet. Hugh treats those people like family.”

Merino possum garments have traditionally been targeted at the tourist market, but this latest range of Black Label Merino Possum has been transformed into more of a fashion item, Seaward said.

“We still have our tourist base but we’ve now taken it more into the domestic fashion market and nobody has done that before. With knitwear there’s one element you must be careful with. If you try and go purely fashion it’s difficult, because high fashion and knitwear aren’t necessarily synonymous with each other. You’ve got to combine fashion elements with a conservative style of knitwear.”

While half its range is conservative, Weft has no problem experimenting with colour and design. Its 2005 range was the first year Weft “pushed the envelope” in both these areas, Seaward said.

“Last year was probably the one where we really took a risk and this year is an enhancement of that.”

Mark SeawardMr. Seaward described Weft as possibly the industry’s best-kept secret. This may have something to do with the fact that Douglas “doesn’t like blowing his own trumpet”. “We’re probably one of the biggest players in knitwear, but nobody knows who we are,” said Seaward. “In the last couple of years this has changed, with people starting to take more notice of us.”

Weft’s product lines are knitted and made at its own high-tech knitting plant. It caters for six different markets including menswear, womenswear, ski/outdoor, rural, industrial and the tourist market. Its numerous brands are focused on markets within New Zealand, Europe and North America.

One major element of difference for Black Label Merino Possum is the presence of the WholeGarment product, which constitutes about half of the range.

Four WholeGarment state-of-the-art knitting machines now take centre stage at the Christchurch plant, which Seaward said has been part of Weft’s huge growth phase. “In an industry where people have been talking about going offshore and narrowing their business down, we’ve been doing the opposite”.

Conventional knitting requires knitting garments in panels before sewing those panels together, followed by the trims.

“This new technology produces the whole garment complete off the machine. They are seamless and produced to fit the body,” said Seaward.

Reproduced with thanks from “Australian & New Zealand Apparel”.

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