Promotion of wool

The Campaign for Wool was initiated in October 2008 by His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales, who had observed that the wool industry was facing enormous and unprecedented challenges.  The price of wool had plummeted to the point where farmers were being paid less for their sheep’s’ fleeces than the cost of having them shorn.  At the same time, sheep numbers were declining across the world, from Britain to Australia and New Zealand, and some farmers were losing confidence in the future of the wool industry.

A parallel threat came from new man-made synthetic fibres, often oil-based, which were providing stiff competition in the areas where wool had traditionally triumphed – fashion, carpets and insulation.

Official launch

Following meetings with various stake holders, the campaign was officially launched in February 2010.  The main players are representatives of the International Wool Textile Organisation, representatives of the British Wool Marketing Board, representatives of Australian Wool Innovation, and key industry figures from the National Sheep Association, New Zealand, Norway and important sheep producing nations of the world.

 The Campaign also embraces leading figures from the fashion industry, the decorating and design industry, the wool carpets industry and the world of insulation and building. The Campaign works closely with manufacturers and retailers across the world.  It is also multi-national, multi-sector and inclusive, and tries to embrace all sections of wool users from the very largest companies to specialist artisans.

The Chairman of the Campaign for Wool is John Thorley OBE, a former Chief Executive of the National Sheep Association who also Chairs the Prince of Wales’ Campaign to popularise mutton, among several other countryside institutions.  Within weeks of launch, plans for the Campaign’s first Wool Week in the UK were well advanced.

Consumer-facing and retail-driven, the October 2010 Wool Week signed up 70 fashion brands, half a dozen national department stores and almost 1 000 carpet independents to participate in the Campaign.  For a week, special window displays were devoted to wool merchandise across the country, including in Harvey Nichols, Selfridges, Marks & Spencer, Liberty, House of Fraser, Debenhams and Jigsaw.

Is it working?

Since its launch, the campaign it has devised numerous initiatives to raise the profile of wool. In PR terms, favourable coverage of wool in national newspapers, magazines and on radio and TV has been boosted significantly, and there are indications that consumers are responding with a greater respect and demand for wool.

The second UK Wool Week took place last month, while International Wool Week in the Northern Hemisphere kicks off in October.  It will feature an ‘Avenue of Wool’ in Spain created by famed creative director Estrella Archs, featuring a spectacular magical world of wool representing heaven and earth.  Organisers said that the scene will be set to “culminate almost another world and leave a unique impression of wool with the viewer.”  In addition, retailers throughout the Salamanca area will promote wool in stores and celebrate the natural fibre in their own way.

Other International Wool Week highlights will include:

    Sheep in downtown Tokyo.
    Special wool fashion commissions across Amsterdam in partnership with Maison de Bonneterie.
    Elements of the Wool Modern exhibition, combined with special German commissions displayed in the windows of Alexanderplatz Galeria Kaufhof in Berlin.
    A woolly-trail spread throughout Oslo for local consumers to follow.
    A series of web sites have been launched providing more information on activities in some of the key participating countries.