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Top stores knit together for biggest Wool Week

Marks & Spencer, Topshop, Topman, Jigsaw and Hobbs are among the big-name retailers taking part in this year’s Wool Week, with organisers predicting it will be the largest event yet.

The retailers will be joining brands such as Barbour, Pringle and Lyle & Scott as well as designers Christopher Raeburn and Margaret Howell in creating special-edition jumpers for the week, which runs from October 14 to 20.

The retailers and brands have each agreed to produce a limited run of one of the 15 winning designs created by fashion students around the country. Some retailers, such as Topshop, will manufacture more than 1,000 of their design.

In total, 5% of the jumper sales will be donated to fashion education programmes in the UK.

John Lewis is also participating and will host Knit Nation, a series of classes to encourage people to take up “fashion-forward knitting”. The department store’s Oxford Street branch will feature a knitted installation that will take shape throughout the week.

Jigsaw chief executive Peter Ruis said: “The British customer appreciates wool like no other – over the past few years knitwear has been one of the few products not to have deteriorated for any retailer.

But whether they appreciate where it comes from and how it’s produced is a broader topic.

“It’s still a challenge for the wool industry to get its message across, but consumers buy more of it than they ever used to so it must be working in some way.”

Veronika Tarasidis, UK marketing project manager at the Woolmark Company, which is a founding partner of Wool Week, told Drapers this year would be the biggest in the campaign’s four-year history.

“It has been building momentum every year, with more people and retailers contributing to it, and [there is] a real feeling that people finally understand the point of it,” she said.

“It did take a bit of time to get retailers into the concept of raising awareness around the value of using wool, but we are getting there now.  Before the campaign started, farmers were considering abandoning wool production in favour of meat, but we’ve already started to see a change in the economics.”

The Wool Week campaign moves from country to country; it started in Italy last month and finishes in South Korea at the end of November.

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