Prince Charles Tells Us to Get Woolly Again

fashion wool photo

Image from the BBC News

Prince Charles has a new project. He is pushing wool as a fashionable and eco-friendly fabric for clothes. That may seem odd as many of us wear wool sweaters as a matter of course. But it turns out that's not quite the case. With the trend for throwaway instant fashion, cheap and synthetic fabrics have taken over the market.

People are looking up-market to cashmere now and wool is perceived as not so desirable. Some think that it is too bulky, too itchy, and too hard to wash. Time for an image change and who better than the Prince of Wales who himself has received the award of World's Best-Dressed Man by the British edition of Esquire magazine.

best dressed photo

Image from Esquire

Wool is a wonder fabric and is so environmental. It has been around since the Stone Ages. It is a sustainable, natural product and its production involves lower carbon emissions than man-made fibres. It is a natural insulator and is naturally fire retardant and is completely biodegradable. And it retains warmth and is recyclable.

With the serious decline in the usage of wool, sheep farmers are suffering and so is the wool industry. Wool is currently marketed at around 70p (US$ 1.11) per kg, down from 97p in 1997. With the high cost of feeding and shearing the sheep, farmers are not making any profit at all. Sheep farmers are leaving sheep production because the price they get for their wool is below the cost of actually shearing it.

So the Prince has taken on the issue (he also owns a lot of sheep) and plotted a revival called The Wool Project. He has teamed up with top fashion brands like Burberry, and stores such as John Lewis and Marks and Spencer, as well as manufacturers to modernize the image of this great material.

He wants to encourage manufacturers to return to woollen carpets and rugs (forget that minimalist wood flooring, please). Wool rugs are more fire-resistant and they last longer and look better.

He also wants to encourage designers in the middle-range of the market to use wool. The top labels do already, but they are expensive. The idea is to aim at the lower priced market.

In the autumn, at the time of London Fashion Week, a big promotion is being planned. The intention is to establish a new green label for woollen products and for shops to really push them and make it a high profile item. Designers will be emphasizing the sleek and stylish aspect, not just the big woolly over-sized sweaters.

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