You can download previous versions of our magazine from our archives.
Follow on facebook
Prince Charles Weaves a Campaign to Save Wool
by Hugh Stringleman
From the bottom, almost any direction is up.
That's the outcome that wool industries around the world will be expecting from the Campaign for Wool, launched in late June by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales.
At the UK National Museum of Wool, aptly located at Cardigan, in Wales, the Prince announced his patronage of the campaign, which is a coalition of industry groups from many countries united in a desire to educate consumers about the characteristics of wool.
The initiative is funded by Commonwealth wool bodies Australian Wool Innovation, British Wool Marketing Board, International Wool Textile Organisation and New Zealand woolgrowers.
Growers, manufacturers, designers and retailers have signed up to the planned five-year campaign, which covers fashion, upholstery, insulation and floor coverings.
More than 80 fashion retailers and 60 carpet companies have pledged to help the textile industry increase consumer demand for the fibre.
Wool's natural and sustainable production, along with its special properties in yarns, fabrics and floor coverings, are no longer known by an alphabet of generations – x, y and z.
Prince Charles spoke of natural flame retardance, comfort and the complete biodegradability.
“Wool is a product that the most brilliant boffin in the most high-tech laboratory could never create,” he said.
Prince Charles, himself a sheep farmer at his Highbury Estate in Gloucestershire, urged manufacturers, retailers and consumers to reconsider wool as an alternative to the “landfill fibres” that have come to dominate certain sectors of modern lifestyle.
The Prince has expressed solidarity with sheep farmers in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. He said it is ridiculous that sheep farmers should feel it necessary to breed sheep without wool.
It was reported that he came up with the campaign idea after receiving a wool cheque. Prices for types of strong wool produced in the UK and NZ especially have fallen so low that the fibre return may not pay for the shearing, transport, storage and sale costs. Wool prices in the UK are about two-thirds of the levels they were 15 years ago, and the position is similar in New Zealand.
The campaign chairman is John Thorley, formerly chief executive of the National Sheep Association, Malvern. He said the Prince of Wales had a proven record in encouraging natural products and sustainability.
"The effect of this around the world will be absolutely amazing. There is a massive interest in our Royal family around the world and in Prince Charles in particular.
"His patronage will have an enormous effect on the campaign and raise its profile not just here in the UK but globally.
"Wool is a sustainable, natural product – the production of which involves far lower carbon emissions than man-made fibres.
“It is perfect for domestic use as a natural insulator and is naturally fire retardant.
“We are delighted that the Prince of Wales has helped bring us all together to communicate its many benefits to the public, and help improve the market for sheep farmers across the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth."
Representing New Zealand on the campaign committee is long-time wool industry leader Stephen Fookes, formerly the chief executive of the Wool Testing Authority.
Fookes is chairman of the National Council of Wool Interests (NCWI), which is the NZ representative body on the International Wool Textile Organisation (IWTO).
The NCWI includes exporters, merchants, private buyers, scourers, researchers and farmers.
Recently he said he thought that strong wool production and marketing in NZ had hit rock bottom and prospects are now improving.
Fookes is eagerly awaiting the launch events in mid-October of the Prince Charles Campaign for Wool.
Along with the IWTO architects' campaign, the Prince's five-year plan addresses the declining relevance of wool in big consumer markets, Fookes said.
"There has been a huge international response already."
The campaign is receiving support from big name retailers such as Marks and Spencer and Selfridges, which are providing space for exposure to wool products at no cost.
As part of the programme any company making products that are more than 50% wool can apply to use the campaign's stylised sheep logo and promotional material. For a token administration fee of £100 they have the right to use the logo for five years.
Companies wanting to use the Campaign for Wool logo would be required to provide information on sales before and after their involvement so it could be properly benchmarked.
The project is a Commonwealth initiative between the UK, Australia and New Zealand, each contributing around £100,000.
It is open to all wool-producing countries and the US, Uruguay, South Africa and Argentina are represented through the IWTO.
The first big event will be Wool Week in the UK on October 11 to 17. Saville Row, the traditional home of men's tailoring in London, will be covered in turf and have a mob of sheep running on it.
Australian Wool Innovation and the NZ council also intend to have wool weeks during October.