What is it all about?
When I was asked to run this cluster I was excited, very excited. Why? - for the first time in a long time I had had a conversation with someone who understood my industry background, and my passion for working with interesting products and processes in it.
I am a textile technologist, and product development and supply chain specialist. I am a geek in this industry - not a designer, and almost never in the latest clothes. I get excited by things that are cleverly made, well made, built to last, or designed for some sort of special purpose, eg keeping you dry and not sweaty while hiking.
We have an industry in Australia that is capable of making and exporting all sorts of products, for all sorts of end uses, eg:
+ World-class sports wear - cycling, swimming, triathlon, football, etc
+ Fire fighters protective wear
+ Gloves suitable for working in aluminium smelters
+ Sumptuous gowns to wow on the global catwalk
+ Down garments suitable for use in Antarctica
+ Merino next-to-skin layers, for everyone from Defence to fashion
+ Hospital-grade furnishing fabrics
+ Industrial filters
+ Great garments that fit and flatter real figures
+ Carpet with tailored designs to fit commercial building layouts.
Yet how many people in this industry are so busy with their head down in their own ‘patch’ to ever put their head up to connect and share experience, knowledge and… business?
Many skills used in these individual sectors, especially in the background, can be much more transferable than we think.
Fire fighters need their clothing to fit while they move. So do skiers, climbers, soldiers and adventure racers. They all wear different combinations of layers, but comfort while moving is essential to performing well in their work or sport.
Wadding for insulated garments for working in the wholesale cold food industry, or outdoor workers, can be made on the same manufacturing line as non-woven carpet and floor coverings, and the inherent fire-retardant benefits learned for the floor coverings can be applied to the garments. This is happening in Australia now.
Yet so many businesses in this market feel ‘alone’ in the world. Australia’s geography means that all these skills are spread over a wide area and are often found in unlikely locations.
If you are a business developing and building products with integrity, interested in sharing experiences, learning about new market opportunities and finding ways to bring fresh energetic people into this field, join with me!
This year we will be meeting in QLD and VIC, as well as skyping and conference-calling in interstate members.
I see an industry need to encourage young ‘techy’ people into this area and to give them a grounding in the shape and practical nature of the industry - whether they need to problem-solve with fabric suppliers for consistent stretch to guarantee consistent fit for quality conscious labels, or combining fabric, mesh, tape, protective pads and clips to enable our police to work comfortably carrying all their equipment.