Thursday, 14 October 2010

Wool Week & The Campaign for Wool

An invitation from The Prince of Wales to attend a meeting at his country residence Highgrove was an opportunity not to be missed - even if the visit was not a social one.

The meeting had been called by the Prince to discuss the perilous state of the wool industry, and what could be done to improve the situation. I have to say that it had never occurred to me that there may even be a problem. In my business, I annually buy thousands of metres of tweed, flannel and worsted material to make into men's jackets, suits and overcoats.

In a passionate speech, the Prince pointed out that sheep were no longer being sheared, as the price for the raw material was so low that it made no commercial sense for the farmers.

It was then that the campaign for wool was put in place, headed up by Conde Nast's MD Nicholas Coleridge. The campaign has been created to raise the awareness of this wonderful natural fibre that is not only used in clothing but for carpets, insulation and bedding too.

The Prince, having fired up manufactures and retailers across Britain, saw the first campaign for wool promotion take place - Wool Week! Shops all across the city have been highlighting wool with window displays, knitting and weaving sessions in department stores.

For me the most striking event took place last Monday, with Savile Row being temporarily grassed over and Exmoor sheep herded in to graze. It was a spectacular sight and a terrific marketing wheeze. I have never seen Savile Row so busy - it was a media frenzy, in what is normally a discreet and quiet backwater of the West End.

I was so taken by these kindly looking animals that I immediately commissioned Fox Bros (whose mill is close to where the Exmoor sheep are bred) to make me a West of England tweed, which I shall unveil at Wool Week next year.

The event really was an unqualified success. It just goes to show what a bit of woolly thinking can achieve.

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