Kiwi outdoor clothing brands Kathmandu and Cactus Outdoor have joined forces to create a merino t-shirt made from wool farmed in the South Island.
The tees have been designed, developed, cut, sewn and packaged in New Zealand, however part of the wool processing had to be sent off-shore to Melbourne due to resources.
Cactus Outdoor founder and director Ben Kepes said the team's mission was to support New Zealand manufacturing and to show other companies the possibility to compete against cheap imports. Labour laws and environment laws have made manufacturing in New Zealand more expensive than other countries.
"We have seen the New Zealand apparel industry decimated. The support infrastructure, sewing machine mechanics, training institutions for garment technicians, all those sorts of things have gone so it's very hard to get employees and that sort of economy of scale."
The aim of 'NZ made' apparel is to keep Kiwis employed, reduce the carbon miles that go into clothing and to create items that are durable.
"You have a whole industry where stuff is created to be worn one or two times and then thrown out."
"That is just an abomination."
The success of Kathmandu has allowed the company to take on and support projects it believed in. Kathmandu's product general manager Ben Ryan said the t-shirt project is in line with their values, with himself and Kepes hoping more of their company's products can be made locally.