Shepherds mixed with shopkeepers and fashion designers stroked city sheep at the launch of Wool Week on Monday.

The "We're Loving Wool!" message is being spread throughout the nation's cities this week, thanks to Primary Wool Co-operative sponsorship.

The launch was at Auckland's Britomart, where the country's top designers were in attendance.

Zambesi's Liz Findlay, Campaign for Wool New Zealand Fashion ambassador, shared the impact of wool on her clothing collections.


Primary Wool Co-operative chairman Bay de Lautour, who farms in Waipukurau, said he was impressed with shearing showman Billy Black The Wool Man's dramatic proof that wool had style and function.

He proved "the flame-proof quality of wool" by holding a blow torch to his black woollen singlet.

"He wasn't wearing anything underneath and you could see the smoke coming off the singlet for about 15 to 20 seconds," Mr de Lautour said.

"He just brushed some brown stuff off it and it looked as good as new."

Synthetic materials were also burned, in stark contrast regarding safety and fumes.

"The fire-proof properties of wool are one of its greatest qualities. "A house fire with synthetic carpets can kill people from the noxious fumes alone."

More than 35 designers and retailers are participating in Wool Week, part of the ongoing International Campaign for Wool launched three years ago.

"Farmers supplying us and all our voluntary brokers pay a levy at the testing station, which goes to England for the campaign," Mr de Lautour said.


Prince Charles launched the Campaign for Wool in 2010 to expand the market for British and Commonwealth wool and promote awareness of its environmental benefits.

Mr de Lautour said the co-operative felt it was important that wool be promoted in New Zealand.

"It is vital to us as wool producers - we are representing 1100 farmers - that we get more consumption to lift the price."

He said that in Auckland he was driven in a Range Rover painted large with the "We're Loving Wool" logo to view some of some of the participating retailers' Wool Week window displays.

There were not the resources to include the country's regional centres in Wool Week promotions but in Waipukurau, at Story's Clothing, Diahann Boutique and Amarvia Blue were "highly enthusiastic" supporters.

In January, Primary Wool announced a record profit of $1.96 million, the largest profit in the co-operative's 39-year history.

Mr de Lautour said the profit came from Primary Wool's 50 per cent share of Elders Primary Wool, which had continued to gain market share "as farmers see the benefits of their wool being handled by an efficient broker and seeing half the profits returned to the 100 per cent farmer owned co-operative".

Growth in members continued, with an average of two new members joining per week throughout the 2013 financial year.