Why fashion (and real) royalty is getting behind wool

Join Dame Vivienne Westwood, Sir Paul Smith and HRH the Prince of Wales

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Enamoured by the sustainable credentials of wool fleece, the Prince of Wales, Dame Vivienne Westwood and Sir Paul Smith are among the leading proponents of the global Campaign for Wool.

 

GIVE FLEECE A CHANCE

It's no secret that His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales is a keen environmentalist. He has his own organic food brand (launched over 20 years ago, long before it was particularly fashionable), has co-authored a book on organic farming and is an outspoken advocate for climate change action and forest conservation.

"I am therefore leading this campaign to help all, from farm to fashion understand the benefits of wool as the ultimate natural, renewable and biodegradable fibre."
HRH, The Prince of Wales

The latest beneficiary of the Prince's eco-minded activities is wool, a fibre he describes as "frankly amazing". As the founder and patron of the Campaign for Wool, the royal activist says he was spurred into action after discovering just how far wool had been pushed aside for man-made fibres. He was "shocked" to discover that for many British woolgrowers, the price of one sheep's fleece didn't even cover the cost of shearing it.

"You do not have to look too far back in history to see that wool was once the mainstay of the global economy," he says. "All too often quality yarn and fabric has been pushed aside in favour of petro-chemical based alternatives. This pushed down the prices paid for wool and many farmers around the world were forced to throw their wool away and reconsider their farming priorities. This could have had a terrible effect on rural wool growing communities around the world."

Alarmed, the Prince called representatives from the international wool industry to his London residence to find a solution: and, in 2010, the Campaign for Wool was born.

 

WORKING FOR WOOL

The campaign is a truly global effort, with hundreds of retailers, designers and manufacturers including Paul Smith, Vivienne Westwood and Topshop, lending their support.

The message to those who design, make, sell and buy fashion: live naturally, choose wool.

"Wool is one of the world's great natural fibres, famous for its versatility and comfort - warm in winter, cool in summer, it is incredibly versatile," says Westwood.

And as a natural, renewable and biodegradable textile source, it leaves man-made fibres in the shade for sustainability.

"I have always been a fan of natural fibres," says Smith. "Of course over the years since I started, there has been lots of other new high-tech fabrics that have arrived but I still tend to stick with my wool."

Taking the message to the world, each year a series of Wool Weeks take place in major cities around the world, each one a celebration of fleece that has seen a giant ball of yarn wrapped around the façade of Harvey Nichols department store in London, Madrid's Serrano Street transformed into "The Avenue of Wool" and flocks of sheep grazing on a pasture established on Savile Row.

The attention-grabbing installations have drawn crowds in their thousands and spread the word about wool, possessing as it does qualities such as moisture absorption, elasticity, resilience and flame resistance… all without the need for scientific intervention.

Wool's other distinction? No other fibre is the textile of choice for the future King of England.

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