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The Wool Wire | December 29, 2022

Exploring the future of wool in Britain, marketing the soul of wool in China, celebrating carbon emission reductions, pastoralism in peril, and one superstar who happens to love "itchy" wool.

Clara Parkes
Clara Parkes
4 min read
The Wool Wire | December 29, 2022
Photo by mahyar motebassem / Unsplash

News snippets from the wool world


Our year is drawing to a close. There's just enough time for one more Wool Wire before we bid 2022 adieu and get cracking on 2023.

🐑 Foundation Flockers, join me at 2pm EST on Saturday, December 31st, for a year-end Flock Talk. Keep an eye out for emails with the livestream link. Busy that day? As always, you can access the replay immediately once the livestream is over. 🐑

And now, let's jump right into this week's Wool Wire with a powerful endorsement for "itchy" wool from an unlikely source: Jennifer Lopez.

JLo waxes poetic about wool blankets

Normally I bristle at any reference to wool as "itchy," but I'll give this one a pass since the context is ultimately positive. For anyone with such a large following to wax poetic about wool can only be good news.

The article quotes her as saying, "Sometimes Ben and the kids make fun of me because I like the itchy feeling of wool against my skin, but it reminds me of my childhood. I find them chic and a Bronx throwback at the same time. I know everybody likes soft and plushy blankets that feel like you’re sleeping on a cloud, but I encourage you to give this a try, especially with this cold winter we’re experiencing. I promise it will keep you so warm!!! You won’t regret it!"

Imagine how many new hearts and minds could be moved by a JLo-designed wool blanket. Paging Chatham Manufacturing, or maybe Faribault? Speaking of which...

The Faribault Mill was on a recent Today show episode

In case you missed it, the story highlighted the mill's exceptional Spread the Warmth campaign. For every bed blanket sold, they donate a blanket to nonprofits serving youths experiencing homelessness.

Now that is using wool for good.

Is British wool making a comeback?

According to Financial Times, change is in the air for wool-loving consumers in Britain. There's uptick in the use of local wool for bedding, chairs, and knitwear. It's being driven partly by the economics of Brexit, partly by consumer demand, and also by sustainability concerns.

“There’s something very special about keeping it so local: the people, the product and the purpose.” says Navygrey’s Rachel Carvell-Spedding. "For customers and brands, this transparency is key."

And here's an article with more background on the current marketing side of British wool.

Formerly the British Wool Marketing Board, British Wool is owned by around 35,000 sheep farmers in the UK. Since 1950 its purpose has been to champion wool and the farmers who produce it, while promoting every aspect of production and use.
“We collect, grade, market and sell British wool on behalf of our members to the international wool textile industry for use in flooring, furnishings and apparel,” says director of marketing Graham Clark.

Woolmark makes marketing push into China

As part of a campaign to seize consumer marketshare in China, Woolmark has partnered with ad firm Mother Shanghai to produce a real tear-jerker of a video. Yes, I know it's an ad campaign. But it's also quite moving. It captures the timeless heart of a good wool garment.

With this campaign, Woolmark aims to elevate Merino Wool’s position as a 100% natural and eco-friendly fiber, and marks a continuation of a sustainability strategy for the brand.
"Our ambition is to put The Woolmark Company at the centre of China’s sustainability movement, leading the conversation on how fashion can be a crucial driver of a more sustainable lifestyle," said Winson & Wanshi, Partners of Mother Shanghai.

Allbirds Releases Sustainability Report

And the news is good. Between 2020 and 2021, the company successfully reduced its producrt carbon emissions by 12%. I appreciate that this isn't just a puff piece about going green. They provide specific details about ongoing initiatives—everything from new partnerships and reconfigured shoe materials to changes in how they package and ship their products. Of course we'll need to keep track of their progress toward meeting their goal of a "near" zero carbon footprint by 2030.  

“Our deepest pursuit is to deliver better products in a better way, and that means bringing our carbon footprint to near zero. These reductions happen as a result of the tireless efforts of our entire team pushing to develop products that deliver on that style, performance and comfort our consumers expect,” says Allbirds Co-Founder and Co-CEO Tim Brown.
“Measuring the carbon footprint of each product, and boldly printing it right there, is a tangible way consumers can join us in being aware and accountable of the carbon cost of our consumption.”

Meet the Shaniko Wool Company's ranchers

Check out these profiles of seven ranches—ranch families, really—that have committed to the Responsible Wool Standard and Shaniko's Carbon Initiative.

Our family ranches have each been nurturing natural resources for more than a century. These ranchers are committed to land management and grazing practices that improve soil health, water quality, biodiversity and that help ensure a future for all.  They have embraced the Responsible Wool Standard and our Carbon Initiative, believing these are important steps to the future.

Speaking of ranch families, here's a gorgeous profile of a Montana ranch family at shearing time, which Foundation Flocker Cody shared in our Community. The fleece throwing is masterful.

Praise and peril for pastorialism

As the pandemic raged through the Navajo Nation, many flocks  of native Navajo-Churro sheep were left shepherdless. The American Wool Council recently profiled Rainbow Fiber Co-Op. This Diné-led agricultural co-operative was founded in 2020 to preserve the present and future lifeways of Native pastoralists by paying Diné shepherds a fair price for their wool. You can head straight to the co-op's website to check out their Navajo-Churro weaving yarns.

And finally, we end with an insightful video clip about the impact that climate change, cheap imports, and grassland development is having on native sheep pastorialism in the Himalayas. The news is grim, but one group is working to stem the tide.

On that note, I thank you for your readership and your support throughout the year. Be well, keep the wool handy, and let's pick up where we left off in the New Year,




Clara Parkes

Wool is life. I make The Wool Channel go.


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