Exports of top or combed wool from Australia have decreased over the years and its December 2011 exports were only 623 kg, the lowest quantity since the end of World War II, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics data.
There were eight top makers in Australia during the late 1980s and early 1990s, and combed wool exports constituted around 15 percent of the Australian wool clip exports.
Gradually, these top makers shutdown owing to low cost of operations in China, and today, Cashmere Connections, a small processor at Bacchus Marsh in Victoria, remains the only topmaker with wool combing facility in Australia.
Wool combing or top making involves a series of processes to convert raw wool taken from the sheep's back into a “top” or “combed sliver”, which can be described as an assemblage of fibres in continuous form without twist.
According to Australian Wool Innovation Limited, topmaking involves engineering the blend of raw wool obtained as farm or bulk lots to ensure that the final top meets the required specifications for mean fibre diameter, fibre diameter distribution, fibre length and distribution, fibre strength as well as several other characteristics.
Fibre2fashion News Desk - India