Long a devotee and supporter of all things local, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, realised the UK's wool industry could benefit from greater visibility and marketing. The resulting Campaign for Wool has, since 2010, promoted the environmental benefits of wool not to mention the benefits of regional sourcing. The program raises awareness amongst consumers about the unique, natural and sustainable benefits offered by wool via featuring various designers, such as knitwear design group Sibling, which is still recovering from the sad loss of 3rd Sibling, Joe Bates who died in August of this year.
Sibling catwalk S/S 2016 photo credit:INDIGITATL
Encouraging collaboration among the international community of woolgrowers,designers, retailers, manufacturers and artisans the Campaign has been instrumental in educating consumers about the versatility of wool, and reconnecting them with its myriad uses – From luxurious fine merino knitwear to fire-retardant insulation for the home.
However, a similar but much earlier campaign to promote the modernity of wool was initiated in 1936, when Australian woolgrowers voted to impose a 6 pence levy on each bale they produced to be used to promote their product globally. Incredibly prescient, this program, initially known as the International Wool Secretariat, used a fashion design award to attract public attention to a material that is exemplified by practical considerations including incredible durability, rich retention of dye, insulation and beauty.
The Company of Merchants of the Staple is one of the oldest mercantile corporations in England. It is unique in being of England and not bounded by any city or municipality. It may trace its ancestry back as far as 1282 or even further. Begun initially by a group of 26 wool merchants, currently the company runs a charitable trust awarding scholarships and funding projects in wool, textile, and agriculture. Their support includes knitwear group, Unmade. see: www.merchantsofthestapleofengland.co.uk
Unmade was founded in 2013 by Ben Alun-Jones, Hal Watts, and Kirsty Emery, at the Royal College of Art who studied industrial design (Watts and Alun-Jones) and knitwear (Emery) Unmade combines new technologies and traditional knitting practices to promote more conscious or conscientious fashion consumption. Focusing on a concept that seems to have become less visible in the past 3 or 4 years, the designers work with bespoke software and Stoll flat knitting machines to create unique custom knitwear. Essentially, their pop up locations this autumn allow customers to play with the interface, adjust designs and ultimately take home their knit on the same day.
photo credit: Unmade
Jocelyn Picard, founder of LYN was taught to crochet by his mother during his adolescence. Ultimately, Picard developed his own unique technique and began selling winter accessories in a thrift shop in his hometown of Sherbrooke, Quebec. Recognition rapidly ensued and he continued to develop his work as a designer. For his first professional collaboration with renowned Canadian designer Denis Gagnon's A/W 2011, Picard produced crochet bracelets from zippers. A year later, young designers UNTTLD commissioned two pieces from Jocelyn for their A/W 2012 collection. A fashion film based on this collectionby Dominique Loubier was featured on the Italian Vogue website.
Nanna van Blaaderen chunky knit "cardigan" Another Woolmark participant, the Dutch Nanna van Blaaderen designs with the intent of "contributing to more respect for or environment." van Blaaderen studied at the Willem de Kooning Academy in the Netherlands and continued to specialise in knitwear design, working for Maison Martin Margiela fashion house before founding her own label in 2011. Awarded the Woolmark Europe Women's Wear prize this year van Blaaderen's work was cited for her unique point of view and innovative use of wool. see: http://www.nannavanblaaderen.com