22 Apr 2016

Cloth of Any Colour

From Country Life, 9:14 pm on 22 April 2016
Andy Wynne CEO of The Merino Company Levana Textiles.

Andy Wynne CEO of The Merino Company Levana Textiles. Photo: RNZ / Lucy Smith

Levin may be a small Horowhenua town with a population of only 20,000 people, but it's home to a number of industries with a strong export focus.

One of them, Levana Textiles, is making a name for itself on the world scene with merino wool, and it plans to expand the business over the next few years.

Their wool is dyed to be optical white, allowing Levana to then re-colour it, to whatever colour they want.  

The Merino Company Levana textiles chief executive  Andy Wynne, says the ability to start with a very white fibre has let the company survive in the highly competitive export world, and they have a long list of international companies buying their fibre.

"One of the pitfalls of merino wool is that you don't get a white wool, it's yellow. Because you're dying on a yellow [base],  your pastel shades often come out yellow. ...or a dirty pastel pink or blue. (Our) technology has been the catalyst in our growth and innovation."

Not only have they made their wool optical white, they're also now investing in new technology to do with spinning wool rather than twisting it.

Wool being delicately put into metal vats ready to be spun later on.

Wool being delicately put into metal vats ready to be spun later on. Photo: RNZ / Lucy Smith

Levana textiles has been around for over 50 years and featured in a promotional movie in the 1950s (Courtesy of  Archives New Zealand)

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