Wool – the original smart material?

The planet is currently demonstrating its positive ability to restore nature.

Soudi Masouleh

I recently got in contact with Charles Ross, a specialist in Performance Sportswear Design & sustainable matters and a tutor of mine at Derby University on the MA Performance Sportswear Design course many years ago. We always communicate when it gets close to trade fair season and make loose arrangements to meet at ISPO should we have time! Three day trade fairs are always fully packed with people to meet and innovations to see. Here is an insight into Charles work and expertise with his latest article discussing micro plastics, praising wool and looking back at how the fashion industry has changed for the better.

Soudi Masouleh

Charles Ross

The planet is currently demonstrating its positive ability to restore nature happens when humankind is not pushing the over consumption. Attenborough’s film ‘A Life On Our Planet’ was meant to be released a month ago; David has made the observation that the planet will recover; now the question should be whether humankind will be around to share its delights. Dark Waters, the movie released this spring, was based on the Exposure book centred on the waste PFCs from Dupont’s US factory, demonstrated the dark side of the industry

DAVID ATTENBOROUGH: A LIFE ON OUR PLANET – OFFICIAL TRAILER

One natural material that has seen a constant growth all this Millennium has been wool. Wool was the choice of Scott & Shackleton in their Antarctic Expeditions.

Charles Ross

It is easy to talk about the evil that the textile industry brings to the world, but many overlook the goodness that it has done (people who remember the transfer of production to the Pacific Rim at the end of the last Millennium can explain more): China now has a minimum wage. The Rana Plaza disaster was 7 years ago & when combined with Greenpeace’s Detox – the textile trade’s response has been leading the Secondary Industry sector in facilitating the future challenges. Toyne & Arpan have shown how textiles & agriculture have been fundamental towards helping Developing Nations to move towards Trading status. China has now become the most powerful nation in the world, overtaking America, during Coronavirus.

Lots of conflicting messages that have added to the state of confusion that has seen a re-examination of norms. Stacey Dooley on the BBC has brought greater understanding to the problem of cotton as an ingredient brand; when the further knowledge of Type 1 cellulosics not degrading in the ocean comes to common comprehension, in addition to the amount of washed off pesticides & herbicides it has put into the ocean – there could be rejection of the material. Polyester (fleeces) have been the focus of the synthetic hatred as plastic-in-the-ocean. These are the two most common fibres in the industry; hence will there be a deliberate move away from the cheaper materials? This will shake the popularity of Fast Fashion. Natural materials will be re-visited, but this time using the increased learning of provenance & performance.

Natural materials will be re-visited, but this time using the increased learning of provenance & performance.

Charles Ross

One natural material that has seen a constant growth all this Millennium has been wool. Wool was the choice of Scott & Shackleton in their Antarctic Expeditions – primarily because it was able to both insulate & deal with perspiration; it was the core of the clothing (alongside silk) that Mallory & Irvine used on the 1924 Everest attempt; the keratin fibre is acknowledged in making the horrors of WW1’s trench warfare survivable as it also offered a natural antibacterial layer that absorbed the smell, plus added flame protection + an exothermic reaction when wet. Two decades ago it was the softer Merino variety that prompted the interest away from synthetics as the ideal base layer. IceBreaker led the way with provenance – the Baa code –identifing the group of farms that had supplied the fibre. The trait coming from both Patagonia & The North Face currently is about Regenerative Agriculture – essentially putting more back into the land than you are taking from it, based on the comprehension that current consumption rates see us using 3 ½ planets’ worth of resources

One of the future stars is HDWool, using tougher European wool, as insulatory material. The company has already won investment from Innovate UK & Sky Ocean Ventures’ investment fund to bring the alternative wadding to the market. Although it will biodegrade, it is the performance that is attracting most interest – permeable insulation that will proactively cope with a wide range of temperatures & the ability to be refreshed by hanging in a dry airflow, with wool that is from certified Regenerative Agriculture farms – a standard higher than the TE’s Responsible Wool Standard allows for.

For a feature in one of our sections or contribute to SSACHS Magazine, please contact Soudi via soudi@ssachs.co