By Zoe Grace Fletcher
The Campaign for Wool, headed by His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, aims to encourage and promote the use of the highly versatile fibre wool – with wools natural ability to wick away moisture from the skin, its fibre structure allowing great breathability and its ‘built in’ UV protection – not to mention it is totally biodegradable as well as being sustainable, wool really is an amazing fibre – highly underutilized in today’s fashion world!
Walking down Regent’s Street we had no idea what would confront us around the corner on the most famous tailoring street in the world, Savile Row. A bright yellow sign warned that sheep would be crossing before Savile Row’s entire street came into view, all beautifully adorned with bright green grass, picket fencing and lots and lots of lovely (and remarkably clean!) sheep!
With Bowmont sheep in one pasture (a cross between Saxon merino and Shetland – meaning beautifully soft fleece!) and the next pasture holding Exmoor Horns (great for making tweed with!) we were treated to a look at the beginning raw material in a long journey from the sheep’s back to the shop floor.
“Savile Row’s tailors continue to create simply the best suits in the world, by hand, using skills that the modern world consider archaic or lost” (www.savilerowbespoke.com), Many tailors up and down Savile Row had opened their doors to allow the general public a peek inside the secret world of bespoke tailoring, it was an amazing chance to see top industry cutters and pattern makers at work – and to see the amount of dedication and hard work that goes into each step of producing a one off shirt or suit.
In a bid to increase the demand for wool across the globe which has been decreasing in popularity since the introduction of cheaper synthetic alternatives in the late 1940’s, to encourage a more responsible and sustainable way of living, and to help farming livelihoods that have been devastated by the drop in demand (it now often costs the farmers more to shear the sheep than the money they gain from selling the fleece at market), The Campaign for Wool has set up a number of high profile projects aimed to increase the general publics awareness for this highly abundant, beautiful fibre being brought back to the forefront of fashion.
After a great introduction to the archives of Hardy Amies, who has dressed everyone from the Queen to Mick Jagger, we were able to look at the beautiful illustrations that had been the inspiration for many fashion trends over the years. Back out in the sunshine we ventured past the sheep and into a wooden shed filled with different types of wool fleece from around the world – from the finest Australian Merino wool to finished rolls of beautifully woven British tweed.
With hundreds of people taking photographs and film cameras abundant, hopefully this day was a roaring success and helped show the public just how great and versatile wool really is, whilst showing off what amazing skills British tailors and designers still have, offering a unique alternative to today’s generic fast fashion high street.