The Campaign for Wool’s 5th Anniversary with Reception at Clarence House
Today, Thursday 12th June 2014, the Campaign for Wool marked its 5th anniversary with a major celebration of wool at Clarence House, the London home of the campaign’s Patron His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.
The Campaign for Wool is a global endeavour initiated by HRH The Prince of Wales, in order to raise awareness amongst consumers about the unique benefits of wool, the ultimate natural renewable and biodegradable fibre.
The event, hosted by The Prince, was a celebration of wool and everything this sustainable material contributes to The Great British High Street, namely fashion and interiors. Attended by a host of key guests representing brands and fashion designers from the Wool Collection, the occasion was marked with enlightening talks by very special guests including Nicholas Coleridge CBE, Chairman of the Campaign for Wool (pictured below with HRH The Prince of Wales). Seeking to highlight two of the Campaign’s most frequently made claims regarding wool’s benefits: firstly, that it is a supremely safe fibre thanks to its natural fire retardant properties and that secondly, wool quickly biodegrades in soil – a key ecological benefit, the day centred around two tests and an immersive wool fashion and interiors presentation.
To demonstrate one of the key ecological messages around wool, a wool sweater and a synthetic lookalike were buried side by side in one of the Clarence House flowerbeds (pictured below).
Each person produces an average of 500kg of waste each year, 25kg of which are textiles. The recent practice of waste going to landfill is not a sustainable solution, which is where natural fibres such as wool play an important part. For example, garments made out of polyester and nylon take about 40 years to degrade, whereas those made of wool take only one year.
As a biodegradable product, wool can bebroken down by a biological process (bacteria and fungi) into natural raw materials. These are carbon dioxide, water and naturally occurring minerals, which are then reintegrated into the nutrient cycle. Conditions needed for products to biodegrade are oxygen, warm temperatures and humidity. Wool is made by nature and thus is naturally biodegradable. It is made of a protein called keratin. During the biodegradation process, fungi first destroy the fibre ends. Bacteria then digest the attacked fibre by secreting enzymes. The carbon-to-nitrogen-ratio of wool is quite narrow, meaning that wool has a high percentage of nitrogen. This is the reason for good biodegradability.
Visitors to Clarence Housethroughout the summer will also have the opportunity to learn about the project via a plaque, marking the burial site. The sweaters will be dug up four months later during Wool Week in October, to demonstrate that the wool sweater will be well on its way to decomposing compared to the acrylic alternative, which will appear almost unchanged by four months in the ground.
Wool in Fashion and Interior Design
As part of the initiative, an edit of the best wool items from the AW collections of Campaign for Wool brand partners in fashion and interiors was exhibited at the launch, showcasing a selection of the finest wool pieces under the umbrella of the ‘Campaign for Wool Collection’. To bring these elements to life, a host of fifteen models formed live model sets on the lawn of Clarence House, grouped into four distinctive looks including: Bespoke, Young Talent, Textile Innovation and The Great British High Street. A strong focus on wool within The Great British High Street with be prevalent within the display, showcasing this versatile material at every price point, with items starting from £30.
Styled by Anders Soelvsten from LOVE Magazine, the fashion looks featured an eclectic mix of brands including Anderson and Sheppard, Gieves & Hawkes, Richard James, Marks & Spencer, Jigsaw, Timothy Everest, Zegna Tech Merino, Sibling, Barbour, Jaeger and John Lewis.
Also at the event, Amy Somerville, Donna Wilson for SCP, Allermuir, The Rug Company, Kvadrat, Melanie Porter, La Manufacture Cogolin and Vicara.
Interior pieces from critically acclaimed Sanderson, Camira, Tai Ping, James UK, Bute Fabrics, Heals and Sofa.com were all included and complemented each of the fashion pieces, completing each edit (pictured).
Wool and Flame Resistance
During the reception, The Prince presented the screening of a burn test which took place at Clarence House the day before the event (pictured below, photograph taken 11.06.14, the day before the event). The screening show a wool duvet, jacket and carpet alongside their synthetic counterparts being set alight to showcase the natural flame retardant attributes of wool. Its complex cell structure, high water and nitrogen content, high ignition point and tendency to self-extinguish make it a uniquely safe fibre to have in the home.
Of the commonly used textile fibres including cotton, rayon, polyester, acrylic and nylon, wool is widely recognised as the most flame resistant. Some of wool’s key fire resistant attributes include a very high ignition temperature of around 570-600° C, a high Limiting Oxygen Index (LOI) which is the measure of the amount of oxygen needed to sustain combustion, a low heat of combustion which relates to the measure of the amount of heat energy released in the burning process, the fact that wool does not melt or stick and is self-extinguishing.
Due to its naturally high nitrogen and water content, wool requires higher levels of oxygen in the surrounding environment in order to burn. In addition, wool’s highly cross-linked cell membrane structure will swell when heated to the point of combustion, forming an insulating layer that prevents the spread of flame. This mechanism also means that wool produces less smoke and toxic gas than synthetic fibres. It’s these scientific properties in wool, a natural fibre with great technical benefits, which were celebrated today.
To read more about Prince Charles said about the matter please click HERE
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