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Functional Fabrics for the active outdoor sportswear market
Apr '08
Functional Fabrics, three-year project managed by The New Zealand Merino Company (NZM). The project was jointly funded by Merino Inc and Technology New Zealand, with in-kind support from NZM and Designer Textiles International (DTI). The work was carried out in The Clothing and Textile Sciences Department at the University of Otago, Dunedin.

The Functional Fabrics research programme was designed to prove scientifically what New Zealand merino growers have always known: that New Zealand merino fibre and fabrics have very special performance attributes that are ideal for the active outdoor sportswear market (AOS).

The project aimed to develop:
1. New products for targeted end-uses in the AOS market
2. Commercially valuable understanding of the performance of merino and merino-blend garments as they relate to the wearer ie evidence to back-up marketing campaigns.

Three distinct research phases were required to meet these aims:
1. Development of quantitative and qualitative measurement systems
2. Optimisation of fibre, yarn and textile fabrication
3. Testing of garment-wearer interactions.

Key outcomes Marketing:
• Significant and favourable differences in wearer comfort and performance (sensory and instrumental, subjective and objective) of trial participants wearing New Zealand merino and merino blend garments compared to polyester.
• Validation of performance benefits of New Zealand merino products providing added value to support a premium priced, differentiated product offering internationally.
• Valuable marketing information for sales and marketing staff throughout the supply chain. New product development
• Development of knowledge and technology with respect to merino fabric testing and manufacture, which allows new market opportunities to be exploited in AOS and other sectors.
• Advanced understanding of the effect of fibre, yarn, fabric and finishing components on product performance, enabling the 'engineering' of merino products for specific functional end use in the AOS sector.

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