Although it has been outperformed by fine wool for some time, John Brackenridge believes the future is bright for strong wool.

The chief executive of the New Zealand Merino Company told The Country's Jamie Mackay, that strong wool needed the same innovation as its fine wool counterpart.

New thinking was needed to replace the old "linear" model of promoting strong wool, said Brackenridge, and his company Studio ZQ was already using "21st Century thinking," by developing new products and ideas, such as the Firewire woollen surfboard.

An association with brands such as Allbirds and Icebreaker had helped increase merino wool's profile internationally, but Brackenridge was starting to see opportunities to boost the struggling strong wool market as well.


"We're also getting real traction in strong wool. That's only going to occur as a consequence of investment in the innovation - and that innovation is occurring in the new premises we've got in Studio ZQ."

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Environmental uses for wool were also on the horizon said Brakenridge.

"In this whole time when the world is waking up to the environment, the notion of strong wool and fine wool replacing fossil fuels is gaining more and more traction."

Brackenridge has set up Studio ZQ in the middle of Christchurch, after growers expressed concerns that urban people were losing touch with wool.

"We felt, and the growers felt that we need to build a centre of excellence in the city that really helps bridge that gap."

Brakenridge hoped the move would be a "fantastic opportunity" for urban people to see the "many good things that are coming off the farm," especially when it comes to innovation and sustainability.