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Q&A with Cheryl from Stansborough

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The Campaign for Wool were lucky enough to catch up with the team at Stansborough to discuss how wool has become integral to the brand. Stansborough’s unique flock of ‘Stansborough Greys’ have been used to costume many of the main characters in the blockbuster films ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy and ‘The Hobbit’. With their products being used in film productions across the globe, Stansborough’s wool has gained a worldwide reputation for their innovative, sustainable wool creations.

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Please tell us a little about yourselves and how your business/ designs/products utilise wool?

The Stansborough brand is quite unique with its story from Farm to Hollywood. Stansborough was created some 25 years ago when the Eldridge’s, a couple from the UK purchased a block of land in New Zealand. They purchased a core flock of sheep that were brought out to New Zealand from Denmark some 10 years earlier.  This breed had a history of strong, fine wools suited to making historic Sails for Ships, so the Eldridge’s embarked upon a 25 year journey to bring this special rare breed back to its former glory and create 100% chemical fee, pure and natural 100% wool textiles of the highest quality for export to the world’s most discerning markets.  The Eldridge’s purchased some very old historic looms, dating back to 1890’s and began to design and weave textiles with a New Zealand influence, but suited to a wide range of end uses, from Movie Costume Design, to Fashion Design, Accessories, Interiors and Baby-wear.  These collections can now be seen in some of the Top Lodges, homes and boutique hotels around the Globe, On the Catwalk, on Blockbuster Cinema Screens and in boutique stores across the world. Their whole collection is bespoke designed, manufactured and hand finished at their family mill in Wellington New Zealand. The farm continues to run The Stansborough Grey’s as a registered sheep breed, the only one of its kind its kind in the world on their picturesque hill country farm, just 2 hours north of the city.

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What makes you choose wool over other fibres? What is your favourite thing about wool?

The Stansborough Grey breed has high lustre, strength, yet softness. Though we use other high quality NZ wools in the manufacture of our product lines, we use the Stansborough Grey as a base for most to enhance the quality and durability of the end product. The stunning lustre created by high temperatures and pressing of this finished wool textile is what we love the most.

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What does the Campaign for Wool mean to you?

We are proud supporters and members of Campaign for Wool since its inception.  We continue to be extremely passionate about wool and its unique qualities.  We strive to promote wool as the ultimate fibre wherever possible.

The interiors landscape is forever changing, what does 2014/15 hold for you as a brand?

Yes this is very true. However, as Stansborough deals exclusively with all its clients on a personal level, from concept to design, utilising its world class bespoke design and weave service, we can continue to be ahead of the trends.  Our natural hues are timeless and fit so many cultures around the globe. However, with the advent of the improving and settling of the world economy, colour highlights have become an addition to our already well established brand for this coming season.

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Fabric technologies, particularly those using wool have advanced so rapidly over the last few years, has this affected your trade and work?

Indeed this has been the case over the last 25 years though we still produce traditional methods of textile production.   However, many of the support and processing plants have closed or moved to other countries over the last 25 years of operation, causing constant new evaluation of processing and finishing techniques Stansborough has managed to continue through tough times and has had to establish itself as a reliable High End brand, offering customers a distinct point of difference and some individuality to survive, looking outside the square and focusing on uneconomic areas for some of the bigger overseas players.  We are always open to new technologies within the farming sector or processing /finishing of our wools. We the first wool textiles manufactures in the world to have all its wools commercially scoured in a new process,  which is completely environmentally safe and planet friendly.

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How does using woollen cloths differ to other man-made materials?

Woollen cloth is superior to all other textiles in so many ways, from being so good for the environment, to the health of our customers. We feel strongly that wool has been given a raw deal and not been promoted historically as so valuable to our everyday lives.  It is naturally breathable, keeps you warm and cool, absorbs odours, safe and healthy for babies and children, doesn’t burn, is recyclable and has been used for centuries by people who understood and appreciated these unique properties.   Man made fibres cost the planet so much and are so unsafe in so many instances, especially for children. With new technology/science today, there is nothing that wonderful wool cannot do or be made into,  that a man made fibre can,  but without ultimately damaging the environment for all of us in the long term.

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What demand have you seen from your customers with regards to favouring wool over synthetic fibres?

Stansborough 100% pure, natural and eco product line demand has increased consistently over the last few years.  Especially as the general public grow to appreciate just how easy wool is to care for and how well our wool products wear and continue to be enjoyed as a constant part of their daily lives.  It is up to us to continue this trend by meeting market demand, with new design concepts, variety of finish and durability of product.

Are there any plans to introduce more wool in to your collection?

Yes of course, but wool is our collection –  We are so passionate about all wool. At Stansborough we truly believe it is just about working to fit the end market for the specific wool grown. Then developing this into a product line that is suitable for that end use. This takes dedication, innovation and understanding of wool to ultimately make this successful. At Stansborough we have already proved this can happen against all the odds and cynics out there!

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Visit the Stansborough website at http://www.stansborough.co.nz/

Stansborough are taking part in the Wool Collection: Interiors at Southwark Cathedral during Wool Week 5th-12th October. Find out more at http://www.campaignforwool.org/news-item/the-campaign-for-wool-interiors-collection/

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