Smitten Merino

Completely smitten

Nicola Mason and her family-run business, Smitten Merino, are committed to creating sustainable and ethical clothing that has been grown, farmed and sewed in Tasmania.

What was your initial vision for Smitten Merino and has that changed over time?

Over 16 years ago, we had a dream to create locally made, Merino clothing here in Tasmania. We had recently moved from WA and were feeling very chilly. When driving up the Midlands we saw all the sheep and wondered where the wool was going (to Italy to make Zegna suits it turned out!). We realised that there was no-one making Merino wool clothing in Tasmania anymore, so we set ourselves the challenge to do it. Our vision was to help support Australian wool growers and ensure local manufacture of our garments. Nothing has changed in that time: we still demand ethical and local manufacture and are very proud to use Australian superfine Merino, a natural fibre.

Smitten Merino is a family business. Please share who is involved and where, and what that is like?

I’m the designer and stylist and I also take product photos and write the newsletter. My husband, Carl, is the accounts, marketing and operations manager. Our daughter Holly is the main model, social media manager and runs the Salamanca market stall. My other daughter does some part time modelling for us but works in Queensland as a GP so is not in-house. Our son takes some photographs and offers design ideas when he’s not surfing Shippies! Having this many family members involved can be a lot of fun and like all families, it can have tense moments! Luckily, we always resolve things quite quickly and get back to appreciating the privilege of owning and being part of a family business. People love the story and the provenance of the Smitten family business, and we feel very lucky to be doing what we do.

If you could change two things in the fashion industry, what would they be?

Firstly, I would change the exploitation of women in sweatshop factories and pay them a fair living wage. Secondly, I would ensure that new products were only made from natural biodegradable fibres like wool, linen, hemp and silk. No more plastic derived fabrics!

Please share how you champion sustainability and community connection in your business.

We champion sustainability in every way at Smitten. We don’t use plastic in our packaging or tags, we pack orders in biodegradable post bags and we use and reuse all our paper and cardboard boxes. We wrap orders in paper, we use local businesses for any printing needs on recycled paper where possible. And we use a natural, biodegradable fibre for our brange of locally made clothing. We love supporting the manufacture of clothing in Tasmania; in that way we have ongoing community connection. We support our local rescue animal hospital, Bonorong, and we support the Save the Tassie Devil program every year. We donate offcuts of fabric to schools for craft. And we now sell pre-loved Smitten on our website and recommend darning and repairing with smitten repair kits if your garment gets a small hole.

What is Merino wool and why do you choose to use it?

Merino wool is a type of wool from a breed of sheep called Merinos. It is characterised by extremely soft, fine fibres.

We choose to use Merino wool because it is the best wool on earth. It is predominantly Australian grown (but originated in Europe) and has so many qualities. Merino wool is wrinkle- and odour-resistant, thermo-regulating, quick drying and anti-allergenic. It doesn’t itch, is biodegradable and UV resistant — what better fibre to make clothing out of?

Where do you source your Merino wool?

Our Merino wool comes from regional Victoria and Tasmania predominantly. It is knitted in Melton, Victoria, then designed, cut and sewn in northern Tasmania.

What’s next for Smitten?

We always have some new ideas on the horizon! Last year we were lucky enough to get into a gorgeous store in SoHo, New York, which led to some great PR opportunities. In 2024, we are going over to Paris with the range, and hopefully the UK too. We recently expanded into Merino sleepwear and dressing gowns and I hope this will continue to grow. We have recently sourced some amazing deadstock suiting Merino fabric so there are some exciting new pieces on the way. Say hello to smitten suits!

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WellBeing Team

WellBeing Team

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