Growing nature’s miracle fibre: Meet the Reids

Swanndri has been making clothes with one of nature’s most sustainable fibres for over 100 years. While the rest of the clothing industry catches up in rediscovering the miracle fibre, we have never stopped using wool ever since William Broome produced our first bushshirt in 1913. 

Trusting the shirt on your back to keep you warm and dry in the harshest of weather conditions is what makes our products so popular. Who better to supply the raw material for our garments than sheep farmers from Central Otago who not only supply Swanndri, but also rely on us to keep them warm?

We caught up with the Reid brothers; Doug, Ed and Willie.

The Reid family has been raising sheep in Otago for six generations. They’ve been wearing Swanni for just as long.

Willie’s earliest childhood memories are of his grandad Ron wearing his bushshirt around the farm in winter.

“Farmers always have one stashed away to chuck on when the weather changes. Swanndri makes the best hard-wearing clothes and it’s great to be working with such a well-known company that is using the wool that we have put the hard work in to grow.”

We’re just as proud to be working with the Reid family, which has been supplying Swanndri with wool for over 6 years. From the very beginning, it’s been clear how much they care about the land and the animals that produce the core ingredient of so many of our garments.

Sustainable fibre

It’s no surprise to us, that as the demand for sustainable clothing increases, the wool industry is experiencing a renaissance. As Doug Reid explains, “Wool is the most natural fibre out there. It regenerates year in, year out. It’s hard wearing, biodegradable and takes minimal processes to turn it into a usable product.”

As part of their contract with ZQ Natural Fibre, the Reids ensure that their wool is premium quality, coming from high standards of farming and care for their 10,000 ewes living on the family’s property, Traquair Station, situated south west of Dunedin.

From values and processes passed on by their father and uncle, all the brothers believe in the principle that putting the hard work into the animal —  providing shelter, consistent nutrition and protection from injury or disease — produces the highest standard of fibre at the other end.

Simply put; a happy sheep makes the best wool.


Care for the environment

At a time when farmers are in the spotlight for their impact on the environment, the Reid family can look back on a long history of sustainable farming.

The brothers are proud to be following in the footsteps of previous generations, who took care of the land in ways that were ahead of their time.

Starting with their grandfather in the sixties, Ron Reid fenced off and planted forestry on marginal land that was unsafe, or scrub-prone. This was continued by their father and uncle, who also introduced fencing off major waterways from the intensive aspects of farming. 

“It is our father, Charles, and uncle, James, that really must take the credit for the scale of forestry and environmental care we are responsible for today,” Doug says.

“It was them who saw the opportunity to fence off the marginal, unsafe, or scrubby land, and plant trees with such commitment, along with fencing off the waterways on the farm.”

As the Reid brothers grew up, they were taught to do the same and have added their own improvements, using processes for winter cropping and pastural renewal that minimise soil erosion.

“It’s in our best interests to look after the land. We want to be here for more than five minutes, so we’re aware of today’s impact on the future of farming,” Doug explains.

Pride in our product

It’s clear when you talk to the Reid brothers that they are passionate about their wool; from the land their animals live on, to the heavy fleece they shear at the end of the winter months. Their commitment to quality is what makes them one of our preferred suppliers of wool.

It’s in our DNA to produce sustainable clothing. Clothing that lasts through the generations and keeps each member of the Reid family — and families across New Zealand and beyond — warm and dry, whatever the weather.