Merino and pounamu suits PM

An innovative mixture of pounamu and merino has produced fabric for the suit Prime Minister John Key will wear at the wedding of next week’s royal wedding.

Two years ago Marlborough farmer Richard Bell imagined blending micro particles of jade, or pounamu, into his Haldon Range wool fibre used globally for upmarket fashion apparel.

He discussed the idea with jade sculptor Ian Boustridge of Greymouth and samples of the stone were sent to European clothmaker Dormeuil for testing on Haldon Range superfine wool.

“Trials showed that minute jade particles washed into the woven fibre created a finished cloth smoother and softer than any high fashion wool garment made previously,” Richard said.

“Its tactile qualities encouraged Dormeuil to manufacturer a new line of wool-jade cloth and make it available to leading tailors around the world.”

One of these, RJB Design of Auckland, has made the first suit from the cloth for the Prime Minister to wear to the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.

Richard said the unique qualities of wool-jade cloth presented worldwide sales potential at the premium end of the apparel market.

Greenstone and fine wool is no ordinary combination and it has produced a very special fabric.

It would be difficult to find a better marketing opportunity for it than the suit the PM will wear to what promises to be the most-watched wedding of the year.

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