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Dyed in the wool: why fleece is staging a comeback

The Ecologist

15th March, 2011

It’s recyclable, reusable and produced in Britain, so jettison thoughts of itchiness and give wool a try

The last five decades have seen an explosion in man-made and mass-produced fabrics such as lycra, nylon and polyester. Cheap to make and cheap to buy, these materials have had a catastrophic effect on wool prices, which reached their nadir last year when farmers received a paltry 96p per kilogram for wool that cost £1.20 per kilogram to produce.  The rising cost of feed and the overabundance of cotton have also contributed to the problem, which has seen many farmers go bust or sell up. But while wool might not be the most obviously eco-friendly choice, it’s surprisingly green and leaves the pesticide guzzling likes of cotton standing. And belying it’s reputation for being hot and itchy, modern processing techniques have turned wool into a very desirable commodity indeed.

At the heart of the campaign to turn wool back into the stylista’s fabric of choice is the disparate twosome of Prince Charles and model, Lily Cole. The latter’s label, The North Circular, is, along with labels such as Cad and the Dandy, Izzy Lane and Ada Zanditon, proving that wool can be cool. Meanwhile, Prince Charles has lent his support to The Wool Project – a campaign aimed at restoring British wool to its traditional place in our hearts. So why try wool? Well first of all, it’s 100 percent biodegradeable, comes from an ultra sustainable, renewable source and requires no chemicals to make. Then, unlike cotton, you can buy British wool, which doesn’t have the carbon footprint of cotton, or for that matter, of wool sourced in Australia and New Zealand. Best of all though, is its durability and versatility, with gabardine, felt and tweed among the many fabrics made from wool. If that’s not enough to win you over, then check out the latest collection from Izzy Lane, which includes this fabulous red sweater dress (pictured above left). £295.

Find out more: www.thecampaignforwool.org

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