Mohair, one of the oldest textile fibers in use is now seeing a resurgence as for the past two years, prices paid for Australian mohair have risen steadily. Signifying the Australian mohair industry is regaining its mojo which had declined in recent times at the expense of synthetics. Mohair is usually a silk-like fabric or yarn produced from the hair of the Angora goats, used in high-end fashions and furnishings.
Bales of the finest fleeces fetched record prices at an auction late last year in Narrandera, New South Wales. One reason for renewed optimism among Australian producers is the arrival of two internationals, key figures in the global textile trade. The first, GT Ferreira, a South African emigrant who recently brought his vast expertise and elite Angora goat genetics to Australia, where he now lives.
Second, late last year Ferreira brought a leading Italian textile producer Cesare Savio to tour Australian mohair farms. Savio is co-owner of Safil, a firm that employs more than 700 workers in factories in Bulgaria and Italy. Safil annually spins and weaves about 300 tons of mohair into expensive fabrics that are used by elite brands such as Zegna.
Australian mohair industry could fill the breach left by South Africa. All textile world thinks that the best mohair is from South Africa and 80 per cent is purchased in South Africa. Mohair production in South Africa has waned since the end of the Apartheid era and Savio said Australia could help fill the space.
Australian mohair production reached about one million tons annually in the 1980s. Today, the figure is a tenth of that but the quality of today’s product is far superior and the economics are more than tempting.