The U.K.’s Prince Charles has decided to take a heated interest in…wool. Specifically, demand for the fabric has decreased over the years, and Charles wants that to change.
With worldwide economies weakened by the recession, manufacturers are looking for more affordable textile alternatives; one pound of wool can cost up to $30 to produce, making it a costlier option for clothing than cotton or nylon.
But cotton costs have increased rapidly this year, and Prince Charles has nabbed this opportunity to sneak wool back into public view. In collaboration with Selfridges, the British department store, he has enlisted long-time wool-makers Fox Brothers and tailors Anderson & Sheppard to collaborate in a unique promotion: letting live sheep and their herders – dressed in well-made wool suits, of course — loose throughout the streets of London to celebrate the first official “Wool Week.”
Over 400 retailers and 80 brands, rnging from luxury (Pringle of Scotland) to mass retail (Marks & Spencer). supported wool’s cause by decorating store windows and holding events such as knitting classes and wool-centric auctions. Fashion magazines like Vogue also strongly promoted the events after seeing the fabric on numerous runways, including Prada and Topshop Unique. Vogue was quick to offer support for the Great Wool Resurgence: “We want to make wool something desirable, so it will affect wool prices,” said Nicholas Coleridge, Condé Nast’s managing director and member of the Prince’s non-profit Trust.
Though “Wool Week” was held from October 12-18, events are still occurring on a daily basis to continue Prince Charles’ five-year plan to rehabilitate the woolen industry. According to its promotional web site, “The combined efforts of the leading wool organisations, industry associations and the textile industry across the world has created a campaign to promote the wonderful properties that wool offers to textiles and in doing so, help to support sheep farming as an industry and the textile community internationally.”
To sweeten the deal even further, there is an eco-angle: The wool dovetails with the British Wool Marketing Board’s “Naturally Green” campaign. A recent report found that the impact of British wool on the environment is measurably less than synthetics like nylon or polypropylene fibers, and thus the sustainability of British wool production is far greater than that of polypropylene and nylon fiber productions.