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Wanchap explores Australian heritage through Merino wool
Aug '13
Young Australian designer Ali Wanchap has launched a Merino wool knitwear label, Jude.

A childhood spent exploring the family farm, of watching her beloved grandmother knit her own collection of popular woolly jumpers and developing a true passion for Australian wool has seen Ali Wanchap launch fine knitwear label Jude.

Available online, Jude specialises in women’s and children’s wear as well as home furnishings and evokes a wholesome and idyllic way of life, encompassing Australian heritage throughout the label.

The young designer said she had been craving to create high-quality products with Australian wool for years. It is a way she can pay homage to her Australian bush heritage and has been inspired by elements of her family history – with the brand’s products named after people, places and even beloved horses. Even the label’s name Jude has a personal meaning.

“Jude is a personal pseudonym of my grandfather, Rex Purvis-Smith,” Ali said. “It is incredible when your greatest inspirations in life have been with you since the day you were born. I have been privileged enough to be surrounded by creative, hard-working people in my family, feet firmly planted in the dirt of the Australian bush. Out of this proud bush heritage has blossomed my great love for wool and has set me on this journey of passion.”

Her passion for wool started at a young age, when throughout the 1980s she would watch her grandmother who, along with her sister-in-law, ran her own hand-spun and hand-made knitwear label called Shirbaa from her wool property near Tenterfield in northern New South Wales.

And so it seems that Ali’s love for wool is entrenched firmly in her blood, with the young designer following in her grandmother’s footsteps.

“Jude as a concept has been in the works for about six years, ideas ticking away in the back of my mind,” Ali said.

“From an early age, I always wanted to design, however my career path to date has led me through the marketing and public relations sectors. After seven years in PR I decided to take the plunge and start my own creative business – and last year saw me begin to turn my ideas into reality.”

Woolmark licensee A&B Knitwear manufactures Jude apparel in Melbourne. Not only does this mean Jude clothes can proudly sport the Woolmark logo, but the fact that the clothes can be made in Australia is something that Ali is very passionate about.

“The importance of keeping Jude local is absolutely imperative. Jude’s entire ethos is built around the Australian made element and I am extremely passionate about manufacturing in this country. I want Jude to be a brand that champions the simple things, and of course Australian wool and Australian made products.”

A key motivation behind Jude is to help reinvigorate the perception of wool, not only on a level of luxury, but bring it back into everyday life, and to contribute – if only a little – to keeping Australian farmers producing wool.

“I would like woolgrowers and their families to see Jude products as fresh and exciting, that are of an outstanding quality and that reflect a modern lifestyle. I would be thrilled if they saw Jude as a deserving representation of their world class fibre.

“And for city people, I would like them to see Jude knitwear as a wardrobe staple, garments that are modern, yet classic. I would love for them to get acquainted with the beautiful quality of Australian wool and to experience the benefits of it as well. I would love Jude to contribute to bring good quality Australian wool back into everyday life of all Australians.”


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