Scottish apparel brand, Brora, have been producing woollen clothing in Britain for over 200 years. The Campaign for Wool spoke to the Brora team to discuss their love of wool and how it helps their sustainable fashion mantra.
Please tell us a little about yourselves and how your business utilise wool?
Brora is a very woolly business! We take great pride in incorporating British wool into all our collections, Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer. It is part of our USP. We are very proud to make the vast majority of what we sell in the UK and wool is a big player in our collections, our customers appreciate and love wool.
Since you’ve been involved with wool, how have you seen the wool industry change?
I have certainly seen mills in Scotland that I have been working with for years closing down due to too much of their business moving abroad for cheaper prices and larger margins. This is incredibly sad and worrying as skills past down through generations are lost.
How do you source your wool?
We commission mills throughout the UK to make cloth for our designs from wool and wool blends. We also buy Shetland yarn from one of the oldest spinners in Scotland for our range of Shetland knits.
What does the Campaign for Wool mean to you?
The campaign has created a greater awareness of wool within fashion and a more conscious use of it by designers who may have used alternatives previously. It is easy for us at Brora to support and work with the campaign as we have so much on offer that is wool based, and British sourced. The Campaign helps make people aware of the key retailers who are supporting this worthwhile agenda.
The fashion landscape is always changing, what does 2014/15 hold for you?
We continue to be a wearable & stylish luxury fashion brand with a reputation for authenticity, tradition, ethics and values. We are taking the business global over the next 6 months by opening a store on Madison Avenue, New York. We intend to spread the good wool word to the other side of the Atlantic; our British made label will be appreciated in New York.
Fabric technologies, particularly those using wool have advanced so rapidly over the last few years, has this affected your trade and work?
It has meant that we are still able to use some of the most traditional mills in the UK as they have taken their cloth to another level in terms of fashionability, blending wool with viscose, linen, silk and other fibres creating texture and drape.
How does using woollen cloths differ to other man-made materials?
They both have a place within a fashion collection if sourced ethically but the wool clothes have a longevity unlike many other fibres. I often hear stories of customers who still have a 20 year old Brora tweed jacket that looks as good as the day they bought it, if not better. You can’t say that of many man made fibres.
History of the fair isle cardigan. What is the background of the piece and what is it inspired by?
The fair isle cardigan in the Brora campaign for wool collection is knitted using Scottish spun Shetland wool, taking the tradition of the fair isle yoke and using bold colours to give the piece a contemporary fashion feel and stand out quality. The cardigan is inspired by pieces still in my attic that I wore as a child, rugged and nostalgic yet familiar and quirky.
What demand have you seen from your customers with regards to favouring wool over synthetic fibres?
The Brora customer loves wool and our best selling pieces over the season will be Shetland wool knits and British tailored tweed separates all with fine detailing and quirky linings.
Are there any plans to introduce more British wool in to your collection?
We will continue to support the British woollen mills to the same sort of level as we do as this is part of our DNA and something we are very proud of.
With the versatility of the fabric in mind, are there any plans to introduce a SS15 wool piece?
As we launch Spring in February, we are actually going into the coldest month of the year. It is crucial to have some woollen knits within the Spring collection as well as some good early Spring tweed pieces. Watch this space!
To read more about Campaign for Wool supporters Brora, visit their website: http://www.brora.co.uk/