The Campaign For Wool – Wool Week kicks off with Field Day, Savile Row.

Posted on October 12, 2010


Yesterday marked the launch of Wool Week here in the UK to raise awareness for The Campaign For Wool, an initiative to highlight the diverse benefits of wool to consumers, initiated earlier this year by His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales.

To kickstart the week, The Campaign For Wool, in conjunction with Savile Row Bespoke, hosted a unique event on Savile Row to illustrate the journey of wool, from flocks of sheep to the home of the world’s spiritual home of fine tailoring.

To achieve this, Savile Row was grassed over and two flocks of sheep put out to pasture, allowing them to graze along one of London’s most famous streets. I have to say that it was quite a sight.

Some of the most well-known tailoring houses in the world – including Anderson & Sheppard, Hardy Amies and Gieves & Hawkes –  opened their doors to visitors and allowed them to see first hand how the bespoke tailors of Savile Row use this remarkable and versatile product.

However, what is far more important is the message behind the event. With so many high street retailers using mass-produced synthetics, a disposable fashion culture has arisen. No longer, it seems, are consumers concerned with the quality, the longevity or the origins of the fabrics used for their garments. In their place, affordability and a quick turn over have become the key factors when choosing what to wear.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for affordability, however, we should also consider the consequences of those choices. There are global economic and environmental reasons why we should. We have a responsibility to not only promote our own industries but to consider the environmental impact of mass-producing and disposing of synthetic fabrics. After all, the production of synthetics is energy intensive and polluting. And whilst some synthetic fabrics are recyclable, the vast majority of unwanted garments will end up in landfill.

This is why wool is such a fantastic product. Few fabrics can make the claims of wool. Not only is wool a natural, sustainable  product, it is also biodegradable. It has the ability to keep you cool when the temperature is hot and warm when it is cold. It is also breathable, with the ability to absorb up to 30% of its own weight in moisture without feeling damp. Wool is also durable and elastic as well as flame retardant.

Merino wool, for instance, is a super-fine product. In terms of handle, Merino is comparable to cashmere. It feels soft and beautiful to the touch, yet it remains strong and hard-wearing. It’s insulating properties make it ideal for athletic wear, where it can regulate body temperature and still remain comfortable and light. It is this versatility in wool which makes it such an incredible product.

Merinos grazing on a sheep station in Galaganbone, Australia.

I visited a Merino sheep station in Australia last year to watch the sheep being shorn. Truly an awesome spectacle. These farmers work harder than you can imagine. However, these farmers are having to compete with the sheer scale of production and low price point of synthetics. They can never match that production in terms of quantity, neither can they lower the price of their product to compete in that market. Whilst Merino wool is relatively expensive, it is priced economically according to its availability. After all, if something is as high a quality as Merino wool and its production is limited, it will be expensive. However, if the demand is reduced – which, due to the prevalence of synthetics, it has been – the industry will suffer. Which is why we as consumers have to make the change.

So, as you find yourself out shopping for this seasons autumn/winter outfits, consider making wool your first choice. Yes, it might be slightly more expensive than a synthetic, but its durability and longevity means that, in the long run, you will be making a saving as well as helping to support farmers and doing your bit for the environment.

Get involved with Wool Week (11-17 Oct) and The Campaign For Wool.


I managed to get through that whole article without making a sheep pun. Incredible.