As I hope many of you already know, this week is UK Wool Week, celebrating all things woolly with a line-up of interesting activities and discussion.
There are over 60 different breeds of sheep in the UK, more than any other country. The variety of different breeds means that the wool is equally varied. British wool therefore, has so many different applications and so much to offer designers.
Natural, renewable, biodegradable, breathable, non-allergenic, elastic, durable, insulating and UV protective; if wool was a man-made fibre we would be calling it a masterpiece of engineering.
But for me, the importance of wool was really underlined when I saw an experiment HRH The Prince of Wales took part in at Clarence House in 2014, looking at the biodegradability of wool compared to other synthetic fibres.
Two jumpers, one a John Smedley 100% Merino Wool style and a similar looking garment constructed of synthetic material, were buried side by side in a flower-bed. After 4 months, the jumpers were dug up by Alex James (Blur bassist with a keen interest in sustainable fashion) from the ground.
The wool jumper was mid-decomposition and was being held together by the metal frame which it was buried with. However, the synthetic jumper appeared unaffected – clean and white showing no visible signs of degradation.
For me this really highlights the importance of choosing natural fibres. Synthetic fibres can take up to 40 years to decompose, whereas wool takes a matter of months. If we all began to use more natural fibres like wool, this would have a huge impact on the environment.
This year’s Wool Week launched with another great John Smedley collaboration with Alex James, who together have produced a limited edition Merino Wool jumper in a bid to encourage people to forego fast, cheap fashion and be more aware of where their clothes come from – all the proceeds will be donated to the Prince’s Trust charity.
Alex James is also the presenter behind the new documentary ‘Slowing Down Fast Fashion’ which explores the world’s unsustainable addiction to fast fashion and won Best Fashion Documentary at London Fashion Film Festival. The film will be screened during Wool Week, at The Campaign for Wool BnB and you can see the trailer here.
The ‘Wool BnB: Living with wool’ – where everything is made from wool, including breakfast! – is also hosting workshop evenings, interactive talks, and styling sessions.
There are also plenty of Wool Week retailers, such as Marks & Spencer, Paul Smith and Jack Wills staying open late on Thursday 13th October for Wool Night Out.
And I for one will be taking part in Wooly Hat Day on Friday, don’t forget to share your pictures! #WoollyHatDay