Interview with Mr Philip Endersbee

Mr Philip Endersbee
Mr Philip Endersbee
MD & Founder
Wilderness Wear Australia Pty Ltd
Wilderness Wear Australia Pty Ltd

Wilderness Wear Australia’s history begins with socks and an old hosiery company in Tasmania that was bought by a veteran Mr Philip Endersbee in 1989. Upon relocation of the company’s equipment to Melbourne, Victoria, the pre-existing sock range was re-defined with development of a new item – the now iconic ‘Kosciuszko’ socks. Wilderness Wear Australia Pty Ltd is a one-of-a-kind company. It is the only Australian company that designs and self-manufactures premium level outdoor clothing at internationally recognized standards – for ecological conscience, material content, functionality and style – supporting a discerning, worldwide community of people dedicated to outdoor pursuits. Wilderness Wear, Duotherm, Microlite, Blister Free, Treklite, Outdoor Solutions Envirowool, Gridbloc, Flamebloc, Merino Fleece, Tecnowool, and Compression Merino are the brands in the bouquet of product offerings by Wilderness Wear. Mr Philip Endersbee is the MD & Founder of Wilderness Wear. He has spent the last 35 years building and managing manufacturing companies in Australia and overseas. The first 15 years with Pacific Brands and the last 20 years building Wilderness Wear. Currently he is the Director of Three Peaks Outdoor Gear Pty Ltd; Member-President elect, Rotary Club of Melbourne; Deputy Chair, East Timor Embassy Building Project Pty Ltd; Fellow, Leadership Victoria; Independent Trustee and Director, John T Reid Charitable Trust. In a talk with Ms Madhu Soni, Correspondent & Editor- Face2Face, Mr Philip Endersbee shares more about sportswear market worldwide.

To begin with, let me request you an understanding on present day garment industry worldwide.

Present day garment industry is recently stable. Level of imports out of Asia into most western countries is now duly dropped, and following, I think most of western countries with production off shore are now in the state where the level of manufacturing is least. Market prices have import component, export component and now have lack of manufacturing component involved. In other words, post global financial crisis industry is probably thrown back at the moment. And, it will take next couple of years to resume.

In this global market of ready to wear, what share your industry embarks? How do you see its potential?

Negligible! Let’s say, if ready to wear is 5 billion, Sportswear is approx 25 millions, and thus it has very little share.

We have business in sportswear. Today, those western countries having textile manufacturing base are moving away from basic commodities product into other sector in order to survive, and that is what creates lack of manufacturer in our country and that is the area we shall concentrate on. So I think we are going to face pursuit difficult than other basic commodities producers.

Can wool - meant for protection fabrics, be ever looked upon as fibre for fashion statement or say -a thing of beauty?

Wool has been in market for decades. No doubt, synthetic fibres have presence in many markets, and have been looked upon as substitute to wool, but wool as natural fibre has many benefits and can be used in fire retardant fabric, as well as to produce fabric that is quite cool in summer and quite warm in winter. So I would advocate that it is quite innovative to define wool to liberate fibre in fashion sector too. I think people doubt it becoming very large sector of marketing channel. But, I believe it is good for professional wears and has best functionality, and I think that describes why all of a sudden there is a world wide demand of wool. Infact in the world becoming ecologically conscious, wool due to its special performance characteristics as well as being ecosafe fibre, can definitely be looked upon as a fibre for fashion statement too.

Wildernesswear talks about being Australian a lot. What makes it so?

Well, it is little bit like an Indian probably would prefer to buy a cricket bat in India rather than to buy in Srilanka or Pakistan. Also, we are little bit proactive here when it comes to wool. We believe we have world’s finest wool that people of other nations have been coveting for, whereas, we enjoy that finest quality, and have best techniques to successfully convert into garments with desired features. Hence, we see an opportunity in the area that lacks manufacturer making raw materials to build products exhorted by the market.

And that is not all about it; in world market dealing with any country, we make sure that standard of the raw materials we get is best and best is in garments after designed to grow a quality and at same time competitive. That is our products’ unique selling properties.

A lot of International brands are there, but at the end of day, one that creates its niche identification establishes itself as a ‘brand’. And when you have got world’s finest resources handy, it is definitely an advantage. It is same as products made of cotton coming from Egypt stands different in market to those from American cotton having different attraction.

And local competition?

We are competitive locally too. We, like everyone tries to develop own personality, are different having different selling preposition; that is- we have got innovative ideas and upper hand on underwear and socks market as well as the formal wear. Whereas, our competitors have gone defocused by entering into fashion segments or womens-wear, and most of them are selling in traditional departmental stores. That is the space we are not into. With innovation and focused attempts in our expertise sector we enjoy monopoly.

‘Invention is one of Wilderness Wear’s key qualities’ describes your Group’s web presentation. Could you elaborate a little more on it, please?

Well, I think, we cannot do without this. Different types of fibres are entering into the market. Europeans are announcing developments in polypropylene areas, and Americans announcing developments in polyester areas. One of the things, we look to do is beautify components.

For example, we are manufacturing menswear with a fabric knitting up polypropylene yarn that has specific gravity less than one, on one side and wool on the other to give it better lifetime-shape and greater comfort to wear and to handle etc. Thus, we have introduced a premium quality Polypropylene thermal base layer fabric. So these sort of technical developments are in pipeline. On top of that, we have regular up-gradations in weaving machines, computerized weaving machines and such technologies.

From past some years, we have been using Lycra with wool and other combination in composition garment technology, thus, capturing latest market of athletic performance sportswear sector. So, there are many technical developments with wool, with different yarns-fibres and with different machineries to drive industry forth into the next decade.

So, any new sector you may wish to foray into; may be technical textiles?

Well I think technical textiles is a grey area. We have got a lot of development in work-wear itself, and I envisage a lot of opportunity in Airspace, in defense area, in police and all what we call corporate or government sector.

Your company’s web presentation includes tenet -‘Ecology is a big factor in how the company operates’. We admit too! So how Wildernesswear operates on this front?

Operating in wool is in itself the eco friendly line of operation. Our products and operations both comply with the standard set by eco friendly leagues. Being a company that exists for enjoyment of the outdoors, we believe Wilderness Wear should do its best to protect the very resources that make this possible. Our ecology platform includes a directive to always use fibre and material products that are environmentally friendly and traceable, such as mulesed-free wool. Being our own manufacturer provides opportunity to self-monitor everything we produce, right down to packaging from 100% post-consumer waste boards and papers. Our carbon responsibility leads us to source raw materials from like-minded, carbon conscious suppliers and to generate low company emissions ourselves. Overall, we regard these measures as the way to leave the least mark on our precious environment.

Published on: 17/05/2010

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of