Wool can Save the World

Alex Dick-Read

Saville Row, one of the world’s most famous streets for high-class clothing probably hadn’t seen this much bleating and fresh manure since the 1800s. James Bond-types wandering down the swish central London location to have a new suit fitted were last week met with a very rare and strange sight: an entire flock of unique British Bowmont sheep, herded by Cornish outdoor clothing company Finisterre all the way from the sticks to the centre of the Big Smoke as part of their mission to raise the profile of the wool industry.

Wool, says Finisterre, is one of the cleanest, greenest and most effective fabrics available for clothing, particularly outdoor all-weather gear, yet the industry is dying as farmers increasingly switch to other livestock thanks to the soaring costs of raising sheep and low price it achieves on the market. Finisterre’s moves were part of a broader drive spearheaded by Prince Charles, called the Campaign for Wool, which aims to raise awareness of wool’s demise and try to turn the industry’s fortunes around.

British Bowmont sheep are a relatively new breed developed in Scotland as a UK version of the popular Merino wool which come sout of New Zealand and Australia. Bowmont wool has comparable warmth and wicking qualities to Merino and, while the project to develop the breed lost its funding some years ago, Finisterre is working with livestock farmer, Lesley Prior, who has the only pure-breed flock of Bowmonts in the world. The aim is to use this high quality wool in their clothing while at the same time helping Prior to keep the breed alive and sticking to Finisterre’s stated aim of finding the best materials from local sources.

You can find out more about Finisterre at www.finisterreuk.com; Campaign For Wool at www.campaignforwool.org; and about Bowmont wool farming at www.devonfinefibres.co.uk.

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