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Vogue for wool is manna from heaven for mills

Peter Ackroyd, Chief operations officer, The Campaign for Wool.

Not so long ago farmers across the world were seriously considering abandoning wool production in favour of meat or crops, but now all that is history.

Ever since The Prince of Wales launched the Campaign for Wool in January 2010 at the height of the global economic crisis, the price of wool has risen steadily in the major wool-producing countries of the world that finance the campaign.

Growers in Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, the US, Norway and the UK can now invest in their businesses with greater confidence as demand for wool seems secured for the foreseeable future.

That the campaign began during the crisis was, in some ways, fortuitous. The wind of austerity brought about an unprecedented change in consumer environmental perceptions and expectations. Wool as an ingredient offers consumers clear and indisputable reassurances about provenance, heritage and sustainability.

The current vogue for the woollen look is manna from heaven for mills in Europe, as is the resurgent interest in local sourcing - leading, for example, to a fourfold increase in production of Harris Tweed since the Lehman Brothers collapse in 2008.

At the Milano Unica and Première Vision trade shows last month, woollen and worsted weavers reported a level of interest unseen since 2007.

We’re hoping to build on this momentum with what we believe will be the biggest campaign yet, which takes place in the UK over October 14 to 20.

Leading retailers participating in the campaign this year include Harvey Nichols, Marks & Spencer, Barbour, Topshop, Margaret Howell, Jigsaw and many more.

This gives us the opportunity to get the message out to a broad range of consumers, ensuring wool remains a key material long into the future.

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