Seeing their product presented to the North American market was an emotional and triumphant experience for a group of Kiwi wool growers.
Just Shorn®, Carrfields Primary Wool (CP Wool)’s range of premium New Zealand wool carpets and rugs, was launched in New York City on May 18 at an event attended by New Zealand Trade Commissioner-Consul General, Beatrice Faumuina.
Craig Carr, managing director of Carrfields, said the farmers who attended the event were immensely proud to see the finished carpets and rugs, which are now available from US luxury flooring specialist Carlisle, presented at the event.
“Our growers were thrilled to have the chance to see the range and touch it. There was real emotion in the room as the Carlisle representatives spoke about their wool being the best in the world.”
For most of the growers, the event was a unique opportunity to see carpets made from their wool presented on an international platform to an audience which included media, interior designers and Carlisle sales specialists, Carr said.
“Our growers got to see first-hand that their wool is a truly premium product that is in high demand at the exclusive end of the market in the US. It was a very proud moment for them.”
On the day of the launch, the farmers were given a tour of One World Trade Center, the first building to be completed on the rebuilt Twin Towers site. The New Zealand contingent was the first group to ever be permitted to tour the building, following an invitation from Architectural Digest, owned by media giant, Conde Nast, which has its offices on the 34th floor. Growers were then introduced to the three celebrity interior designers, Mark Brunetz, Jennifer Bertrand and Lonni Paul, who are instrumental in developing the new range of designs and are charged with producing new concepts every quarter.
Under CP Wool’s partnership with Carlisle, the Just Shorn® luxury range of carpets and rugs is now being made available through its six strategically-located showrooms across the US.
Carlisle, which is well known across North America for its luxury wide plank timber flooring, recognised the potential for New Zealand wool carpet among its customer base, said Carr.
“Americans have been slow adopters of wool carpet in their homes to date. It made sense for Carlisle, which supplies the high end of the market, to offer a premium, natural soft flooring option alongside their wood product. So far the response has been great and Carlisle is now working with interior designers to put Just Shorn® carpets into the homes of customers.”
Among the first customers are US TV personalities Bill and Giuliana Rancic, who are working with a interior designer to the stars, Lonni Paul, to decorate their LA home, which will include Just Shorn® rugs and carpet.
A key area of opportunity that CP Wool and Carlisle have identified is the luxury apartment market in New York, where 80% of a residence’s floor area must be covered in soft flooring to reduce noise, Carr said.
“We also know that high-end homeowners in the States like to follow trends, so they often have carpets in their homes for around five years before replacing them with more up to date colours and styles. This creates a further strong opportunity for our future sales.”
The Just Shorn® range is being produced by a small number of carpet and rug manufacturers across the US, who source their material from NZ Yarn in Christchurch. NZ Yarn are specialising in yarns that create beautiful rug like construction in wall to wall carpets that showcase wool’s unique characteristics, that designers and customers love. Their whole product innovation strategy is to purposely step off the commodity curve.
We are compelled to push creative boundaries and will be continuously developing and commercialising "step change" yarn systems and working with our channel partners to provide new, unique and exclusive ranges, Carr said. CP Wool yarn gives these manufacturers an innovative product to work with, resulting in a superior end product.
“We are providing yarns that showcase the beautiful unique characteristics of wool, that designers and customers love and that our competitors find difficult, if not impossible, to replicate.
This strategy has resulted in a product that stands apart from the rest, distributed through a supplier that is already very well known for its iconic hardwood flooring in the US, Carr said.
Photo: The Kiwi growers with the Carlisle team on the 64th floor of the One World Trade Centre Building in New York.