Keeping it in the family
The R.M.Williams Autumn-Winter 2017 collection was shot on Outalpa station in South Australia’s Flinders Ranges, where the Morgan family lives and works.
The Morgan family has been farming at remote South Australian station Outalpa for the past 20 years. Each November they shear 10,000 Merinos.
“The family’s history and association with this particular region goes back to the 1880s,” patriarch James Morgan says. “We’re broadacre livestock producers of both sheep and cattle. It’s an area that has been tightly held by the landowners. It’s very productive provided it’s run correctly. The land is always testing you … but I guess we enjoy the cut and thrust of that.” James points out that while sheep haven’t changed much in the past 10,000 years, technology has allowed progress, particularly modern telecommunications. “We like a balance of old and new,” he says. “We do stay true to the things that we know work. We don’t change for the sake of change.”
He sees parallels with the work his family does and R.M.Williams. “They’ve always been a really high quality product,” James says. “R.M.Williams always had a long association with the farming community and certainly in areas not only in clothing but in stockmanship gear like stock whips and leggings for riding motorbikes. We’ve owned all those products over the years and still use them.” James is married to Alex. “I can’t imagine walking out the back door and not looking at acres and acres,” Alex says. “At the end of days you feel fulfilled.”
When Alex got her first pony at age five she went into R.M.Williams in Percy Street, Adelaide, with her grandfather to get her first pair of boots. And she’s been wearing them ever since.
Her sons Jack and Eddie are now in their twenties and they have always helped out on the farm. The wool industry has been through some tough times but Eddie has been lucky to experience some good commodity prices. “So long as we believe in what we’re doing and we believe in our product, we can draw on those experiences from the past and move forward as a family,” he says.
Jack lives part of the year in Melbourne, where he’s studying. “There’s a bit of a joke in Melbourne – my friends like to call me a ‘concrete cowboy’ because I like to wear R.M.Williams in the city,” he says. “A few of my friends came out for my 21st recently … once they came out here and saw how we live and what we do, they didn’t think I was such a concrete cowboy after that.”