With the Campaign for Wool #WoolWeek underway, we decided to take a look at importance of wool and at the new AW17 styles that feature this marvelous textile.
Not all wool comes from sheep, and not all wool from sheep is the same. Wool can be collected from a verity of animals and breeds, Cashmere and Mohair wool from Goats, Alpaca and Llama wool, Qivuit from Musk-Ox, Angola from rabbit, and Chiengora from dogs.
Wool has historically been one of humanities most valuable commodities, from the primitive Neolithic era all the way to the present day, wool has played an important part in our history and culture.
Evidence of the domesticating and keeping of sheep has dated as far back as 10,000 years ago, fast forward some thousand years, with the thriving Persian, Greek and Roman empires, the distribution and trading of sheep and wool was spread across Europe, fleeces from the Roman Empire became superior through selective breeding.
The Romans highly valued the Britons weaving skills, erecting a wool plant in Winchester in 50 AD introducing their sheep and produce to the Britons, thus starting what would one day become the worlds largest wool textile industry.
Medieval England saw the rise of the monolithic wool empire, by 1660 two-thirds of England's foreign trade was based on woolen textiles. Wool became the backbone of the medieval English economy and was described as “the jewel in the realm”! To this day the seat of the Lord High Chancellor in the House of Lords is a large square bag of wool called the 'Woolsack" (covered in Hainsworth cloth), in order to symbolize the huge importance of the wool trade and prosperity it brought to the English economy.
Up until the early/mid 18th century, manufacturing woolen textile was done by the individual in their place of residence, but with the advent arrival of the Industrial Revolution, the textile industry would transformed as large mills and factories were erected throughout Britain, mostly in Lancashire and Yorkshire due to the damp climate, thus becoming the world capital for textile manufacture.
After the turn of the 20th Century, local manufacturing slowly declined in Great Britain, due to economic struggle and cheaper labor abroad, however there still remains a small number of craftsman and artisans who continue farm, create and trade wool, masters of their skills, their names known throughout for their superior quality and history.
As part of the 'Craftsman Project', WALSH prides itself with using local, important and traditional sourced materials and manufacturers, this season, WALSH has worked with Abraham Moon & Sons, A W Hainsworth, Bower Roebuck and Fox Brothers, names that are synonymous for their fine manufacturing of wool cloth.