A brown homespun jersey was number one student fashion item for warmth and style in the 1980s.

This dropped out of fashion somewhere in the 1990s but wool is making a comeback among students in 2020. The Back Road knitted jersey, available from Farmlands, made by MKM in the Manawatu, are increasingly popular with students.

They are cheap (about $70), warm and made in New Zealand using local wool. The windbreaker lined version, made in China, is also popular but more expensive.

Among farmers and other outdoor workers, the MKM Tasman jersey is hugely popular, with up to 25,000 units sold each year. The outer layer is wool while the inner layer is Eco Possum, adding comfort and breathability. They are a bit pricier at $149 so best put on the student loan.

John Myszczyszyn, MKM, chief executive, said both the basic Back Road and the MKM Tasman are a great end use for 29.5 micron wool.

It is spun into yarn at Woolyarns, Wellington, then knitted in Palmerston North.

“It’s a fantastic New Zealand story.”

“We currently buy up to 25 tonnes of this particular yarn each year which we are hoping to increase, as our sales are hugely increasing year on year, due to the switch to supporting New Zealand made.”

Length of the fleece is not typically an issue and it can be second shear wool. MKM is one of the largest Possum Merino manufacturers in the world. They use wool ranging from 17 micron (and even 15 micron cashmere) up to a wider micron of 29.5. The knitwear is sold to retailers all over the world, John said.

MKM creates knitwear garments that are all designed and manufactured in the Manawatu. They have been in business for 136 years and knitted the first All Black Jersey in 1904.