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Q&A with Guy from Dashing Tweeds

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To mark the 5th anniversary of the Campaign for Wool, this year Wool Week had to be bigger and better than ever. On October 5th,  hundreds of wool-clad cyclists will descend upon Potters Field for a 13.4 mile bike ride around some of London’s iconic sites, for the first CFW Wool Ride.

To celebrate the partnership between cycling and wool, the Campaign for Wool spoke to Guy from Dashing Tweeds who has been encouraging the relationship between the sport and the fibre for years with his innovative tailoring business.

How did the Dashing Tweeds business begin?

It all began when I met Kirsty McDougall during her degree show. I had been photographing advertisements for the tailors of Savile Row and was very happy to be paid in tailoring. However, all the cloths available seemed quite dull compared with the archives from previous generations. I really wanted an urban tweed for wearing whilst cycling around London and asked Kirsty if she could weave me a reflective tweed based on the colours of town. The results were so good we decided to set up a weave design studio and start the Dashing Tweeds brand.

What was the inspiration behind Dashing Tweed’s range of reflective suits for cyclists?

I had been wearing my fathers old Harris tweed jacket in a rustic herringbone for years and found it such a good fabric to wear on my bike. The tweed kept me dry and warm as well as being breathable and it hardly ever needed cleaning. However, the colours did look rather out of place in town. I wanted a modern technical urban sports wear fabric with all the benefits of wool and a helping of urban élan.

For the cut of the suits, I found a plethora of inspiration on Savile Row. All sorts of ideas to increase movement and comfort have evolved over the years and are part of the armoury of skills of the tailors. With small modifications the shooting shoulders of coats and twisted seams of riding breeches can be used to tailor clothes ideal for wear on a bicycle. In addition any personal preferences can be catered for in bespoke cycle suits.

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Can you explain the technology behind the Lumiatwill fabric?

We weave a fine 3M retroreflective yarn in with wool. The yarn has millions of tiny glass ‘cats eyes’ adhered to a technical fabric base. The yarn is quite delicate but by weaving it with a matrix of quality wool it becomes very wearable and long lasting.

How do you source your wool?

We work mainly with a Yorkshire based wool merchant who sources our wool in local auctions. We are also very excited to work with local wool producers from around London and have done a fabulous collection with Kentish Cob wool from Romney Marsh. We are increasing interested in working with British wool.

What are the benefits of wearing woollen clothing whilst cycling?

Modern wools really are the most perfect fabrics for sports wear, especially urban cycling. Wool absorbs more moisture than cotton when one perspires and it wicks it away very fast, thus keeping one dry and cool when working hard. In addition the natural lanolins keep rain water out and the fibres keep wind away ensuring you are warm when needed. The two things I like most about wool is that it makes no noise when you move whilst wearing it and that it is the traditional way men have worn colour. Wool can be dyed almost any colour and sporting tweeds are often the most interesting aspect of any gentleman’s wardrobe.

How does using woollen cloths differ to other man-made materials?

There are many ways in which woollen cloths differ to man made materials. There are several technical benefits of wool that cannot be surpassed by man made fibres but I think at the moment the most important issue is the sustainability of wool. Sheep farming is an essential part of our life as settled human beings and through centuries of breeding, fabulous qualities of wool have been created, it’s vital the close bond of sheep and farmer continues to flourish.

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The fashion landscape is always changing, what does 2014/15 hold for you?

We have just opened our shop off Savile Row at 26 Sackville Street W1S 3HE and are working on a fabulous ready to wear range as well as our cloth collections. We have been focussing on wool finishes for our new urban tweeds.  Exploring the full potential for wool, we have had some of our woollen cloth waxed and are making waterproof quilted jackets. At the other end of our range, we have woven wool and silk together and are making outstanding smoking jackets, which have a lustrous, heat-pressed finished. Wool responds very well to a brushed finish and we are making incredible duffle coats this season.

In general we feel that large brand, luxury fashions are not what our customers desire; interesting fabrics with a design story, individuality and originality are now key.

What does the Campaign for Wool mean to you?

We live in an age where many people are not as educated about fabrics as previous generations. However, now that men are becoming ever more interested in dressing well and bespoke tailoring is in the midst of a renaissance, men are very keen to learn more. For us this is the chief aspect of the Campaign for Wool, educating a hungry public about wool, the most popular and versatile fabric.

To find out more about Dashing Tweeds and their innovative tailoring business visit http://www.dashingtweeds.co.uk/

To sign up for a complimentary ticket to the Wool Ride visit http://www.campaignforwool.org/events/wool-ride/

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