October is Wool Month: https://www.britishwool.org.uk/
Given it’s popularity, we’re delighted to hear that Octobers ‘Wool Week’ has now been extended to a whole month.
This led us at CGHQ to investigate the impact on the world of couture and ready-to-wear fashion by this humble animal, the sheep. We encountered a few surprises and found some striking animals during the research. The first recordings of sheep bred for wool come from Persia and they can now be found across the five continents.
Archeologists found evidence that selective breeding of sheep was used in Mesopotamia, Persia, around 3000 BC, the cross breeding being an integral part. They did not have the fluffy fleeces then that we know them for now. Persians were also adept at the weaving of carpets and rugs from the wool.
Not being a natural condition to be covered head to foot in a thick hot woolly fleece, the sheep must be sheared within given times annually in order that they do not encounter harm. As well as the obvious heat problems, the fleeces attract flies whose larvae can cause major havoc to their well being.
The middle ages saw the wool trade develop strongly in Europe. Britain became a big provider of the raw wool which would be sought after and sold mostly to the master cloth makers whom were prolific in Flanders but also sold to others worldwide. At this time, wool without doubt was the backbone and driving force of the UK economy making it what became known as; “the jewel in the realm”.
The UK did have a good trade of cloth makers albeit smaller than the rest of Europe. Leeds, Huddersfield, Scotland are some of the many places that had a strong history of mills. Harris Tweed is a big favourite here at CGHQ and is still made to the highest standards by the three remaining Harris Tweed Mills in the Outer Hebrides. Merino wool mostly hailed from Spain, there is currently only one farmer in the UK providing this particular very soft fine wool. Our go to for access to the best woollens are via longstanding trade agents like Holland and Sherry whom excellenty represent the best merchants.
Lets hope all these mills will still be with us for a good while to come.
Assorted images throughout of garment designs by Clariscia Gill using wool fabrics
By Clariscia Gill – CG Couture