Redis­cov­er­ing the golden fleece

Element - - Primary Industry - By Andy Ken­wor­thy

It has to be one of mod­ern life’s ab­sur­di­ties that com­pa­nies sell­ing plas­tic polypropy­lene cloth­ing de­rived from fos­sil fu­els are al­lowed to call it ‘fleece’. But in re­cent years real wool has been mak­ing a come­back.

Cut­ting-edge Kiwi cloth­ing com­pany Ice­breaker is now busy cloth­ing savvy cus­tomers in more than 3000 stores in 37 coun­tries in fash­ion­able, high-spec merino, while wool prod­ucts from car­pet mak­ers Cav­a­lier Brem­worth are suc­cess­fully tak­ing on the syn­thet­ics in­side our homes.

The move­ment has some in­flu­en­tial back­ing. The Prince of Wales, ar­guably the world’s most fa­mous sheep farmer, launched The Cam­paign for Wool in 2010 to rein­vig­o­rate in­ter­est in the fi­bre world­wide. It is set to run un­til 2015.

Jeremy Moon, who founded Ice­breaker in 1994, is pleased that the new wave of wool is now get­ting a royal nod of ap­proval:

“I think it’s cool that he’s dust­ing off the tweed and broad­en­ing his view of wool to in­clude beau­ti­ful new light­weight merino wool fab­rics, which are chang­ing the face of what wool is,” he says.

“Wool went out of favour be­cause it was itchy, prickly and old­fash­ioned.

We’ve made it light, soft and cool. Peo­ple won’t buy things only be­cause it’s nat­u­ral; it’s got to be nat­u­ral and beau­ti­ful.”

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