Last year’s Mohair SA delegation TO the Far East has reported on the industry there, where the weak Japanese yen, non-rising personal spending and high wool prices have forced manufacturers to substitute polyester in their traditionally mohair blends. An abnormally warm winter has also hurt the industry. But some weavers feel that global warming would help mohair in the future, as the fibre is well-suited for making lighter summer fabrics. This would be welcomed by Japanese men, who still wear formal suits.
The weavers also believe ladies’ fashion is on an upward trend, as was the case in Europe, and they are following fashion trends in Milan more closely, even though their main market remains at home. O ne spinner, who makes hand-knitting yarn and uses mainly mohair in the 26 to 28 micron range, said that demand has been constant and that exports to 25 countries took up 80% of their business’s production. This spinner is also interested in compiling a range of South African wool and mohair. ther spinners in the high-end ladies’ market use mohair as fine as 20 to 21 microns. Although they operate in a very expensive segment, prices do affect them. Still, sampling at Piti Filati in Italy was positive, with names like Prada, Yves Saint Laurent and Gucci showing interest. The US remains a big export market for this sector, with the Japanese becoming more important. This suggests that manufacturers see good-quality mohair as non-negotiable, despite concerns about the effect expanding game farms are having on mohair output.
China has seen an improvement in technology, and four Italian spinning companies have recently relocated there. The general feeling was that the domestic Chinese market has remained constant, but that exports were subdued due to the sharp increase in mohair prices the previous year and changing fashion trends. Some spinners have decreased the mohair content in their yarns by half due to 2006’s high prices, but there was optimism that the demand for adult mohair could increase should demand in Russia and Turkey pick up. he trend in China is towards finer mohair and the biggest weaving company there, which produces 28 million metres of fabric per year and which always used adult mohair, has changed to kid mohair (24 to 25 microns) because retailers are demanding finer yarn counts as dictated by fashion trends. Some spinners believe mohair quality has deteriorated since the 1990s and it doesn’t have the same appeal anymore.
Substitution of certain types of wool for mohair is also harming the business. However, the Chinese, who are leaning towards SA wool because yields are better, don’t expect the quota on greasy wool imports from Australia, due to the pollution problem, to affect mohair consumption. While some think there are too many fancy yarn spinners in China, where business is highly competitive, the price hike of chemical fibres is good for natural fibres. New products to look forward to include a jeans fabric with 30% mohair, a mohair/cashmere blend for winter suits and blends with Japanese paper (washi). – Roelof Bezuidenhout