With 18% of total global wool production, Australia is the world’s largest wool producer. There are approximately 60,000 farmers who grow wool from around 75 million sheep. The Merino breed is predominant in Australia, producing 80% of the world’s fine wool that is used in apparel.

Programme Highlights 

Among the featured topics:

  • High-end luxury
  • Sports and outdoor sector
  • Carpets
  • Processing innovations
  • Harvesting alternatives & traceability
  • Innovations in end use applications
  • Global consumer trends & macro-economic factors
  • Labelling legislation & the geopolitical landscape

From Paddock to Product:
Connecting Farm and Fashion at the IWTO Congress

Adelaide, 18 April 2024 – The 93rd IWTO Congress took place this week with 350+ delegates from around the world joining Australian woolgrowers, processors, spinners, designers, and retailers in Adelaide, South Australia.

In partnership with Wool Industries Australia, more than 350 members of the International Wool Textile Organisation (IWTO) welcomed speakers ‘from paddock to product’.

This 93rd Congress of the IWTO was opened on 16 April by Her Excellency the Honourable Frances Adamson AC, Governor of South Australia. Following the welcome address, attendees heard opening remarks from IWTO President Klaus Steger, Wool Industries Australia President David Michell, and Australian Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Murray Watt (via video message).

A major highlight of this first day of the Congress was the announcement of a new integrity and sustainability program, the Australian Wool Sustainability Scheme (AWSS), launched by AWEX.

Speaker Katyana Armen of AWEX described the AWSS as a new chapter for wool sustainability certification in Australia. The AWSS is a fit-for-purpose system that independently verifies sustainability practices across the entire wool supply chain, from farm to fibre, to meet market expectations.

“The Australian Wool Sustainability Scheme will showcase the responsible stewardship of our natural resources, the health and wellbeing of our sheep, the care we provide for people and communities, and the vitality and resilience of our industry,” said AWEX CEO Mark Grave.

“This program critically addresses the needs of brands, providing credible verification of wool inputs, ensuring sustainability and quality, and offering a trusted traceability foundation.”

Innovations like this come at a crucial moment for the industry as environmental footprinting moves rapidly toward consumer-facing labelling.

“Transparency is no longer an option but a necessity,” noted Australian brand Sportscraft’s Alex Kidis.  With the support of scientific evidence and solid on-farm data, the wool industry aims to create a level playing field for all textiles in upcoming European textile legislation.

Speakers from across the global wool value chain

“This year’s congress delves into the trends shaping consumer preferences. We explore how the wool industry can better cater to the growing demand for natural, high-performance, and fully traceable wool,” said Klaus Steger, IWTO President.

“The insights and connections fostered at this year’s congress will be instrumental in shaping the future direction of the global wool industry. We’ve gained valuable direction on emerging trends and consumer demands, which will guide the industry’s strategic efforts moving forward.” said IWTO Secretary General Dalena White.

Participants heard from speakers up and down the supply chain. Among the many international speakers were Lorenzo Bertelli of Prada Group, Jeremy Berres-Paul of Huckberry, Dion Lee of the eponymous brand, Richard Boide of Dormeuil, and Greg Smith of Bremworth.

About the IWTO and the 93rd annual Congress

The International Wool Textile Organisation is the global authority for standards in the wool textile industry. Since 1930, IWTO has represented the collected interests of the global wool trade.

Each year, the IWTO brings the global wool textile industry together at its Congress. This event highlights the work of local wool industries and opens the stage for knowledge sharing and networking.

Thank You to Our Congress Sponsors