Medical merino

It looks like NZ merino is successfully expanding its market again: Encircle Compression Therapy socks were recently named a winner in the 2011 Medical Design Excellence Awards competition and announced as a finalist in the DuPont ANZ Innovation Awards.

The product was developed for The Merino Company by Locus Research (led by Timothy Allen, a graduate of VUW’s School of Design) in partnership with the AgResearch Textiles Group and the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand, and produced by Levana Textiles (part of TMC).


“Encircle is the first two layer graduated compression system that utilises natural merino fibre next to skin. Encircle consists of five novel attributes that significantly advance patient care and will create a new product category in the global compression market:

  1. An innovative bi-component fabric: that both absorbs and wicks moisture away from the skin creating an effective micro environment for healing and comfort in use;
  2. A two layer system: that effectively utilises the bi-component material to manage the build up of moisture, and to ‘build up’ the level of compression, making application easier;
  3. An improved method of application: that allows the end user to put on and take off the compression garment as prescribed, without clinical assistance;
  4. Pressure release: that aids conformance by allowing the patient to release some pressure without taking the garment off, still retaining a moderate level of pressure through the provision of a ‘bridge’; compression;
  5. A method of specification linked to the garment: that makes prescription easier and more accurate, ensuring correct sizing and delivering the intended compression level.”

On the research and design process:

Radio NZ: “Lead designer Blythe Rees-Jones says the brief was to find innovative new applications for merino.” [See Textile NZ‘s Transform initiative.]

Scoop (Locus Research press release): “Rees-Jones praises the other researchers in the Encircle team such as Dr Stewart Collie, from the AgResearch Textiles Group for ‘his amazing knowledge of textile science’. ‘Encircle’s success has come from a great team, and the fact we did user centred design. The team essentially became the patient and that is how we created the product.’ … Professor Beasley says he was impressed by the commitment of Locus Research and The Merino Company to undertake ‘rigorous testing of its product‘ prior to launching it on the market.”