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The Incrediwools: Hackett and Cordeaux

Three years ago Jeremy Hackett, co-founder of the British menswear brand, Hackett together with Douglas Cordeaux, managing director of Fox Brothers & Co, the renowned cloth makers, invested in a flock of Wensleydale sheep in Somerset. Earlier this year, the fleeces were woven to produce an exclusive own-brand luxury wool fabric for Hackett featured in the finale three-piece suit in their ‘Sheep Shape and London Fashion’ collection available to buy this Autumn Winter season.

How did the collaboration come about?

DC: We were aware that British wool wasn’t being used enough, but we knew that there are great products that can be made from British wool. There’s a renaissance in this area. So we had the idea of investing in the flock. At the moment there are about 150 sheep, but that number’s moving up. It’s about creating an awareness and demand for the product, because ‘Made in Britain’ is a great label.

JH: I had worked with Fox Brothers for more than 25 years, so when Douglas called me and started talking about sheep I thought, ‘This is fantastic’. As a British brand it’s important for us to help maintain our integrity by, wherever we can, supporting other British brands. And the idea of supporting British sheep really captured our imagination. So we got involved with Douglas and produced some samples which we put into our last fashion show, which was part of London Collections: Men. We had several outfits made out of the wool and they went down very well. We called the show ‘Sheep, Shape and London Fashion’.

How were the ranges received both in the UK and overseas?

JH: They were very well received. I think distance lends enchantment, really. The British don’t make a big deal of things being made here, but further afield, particularly in Asia, they want something that’s Made in Britain. It’s about maintaining a point of difference.
Are you getting the message across in the UK that British wool is a quality product?

DC: I talk to agricultural students at the Cannington Centre [part of Bridgwater College in Somerset] about British wool and they’ve still got this myth that you have to burn it. When I say that Hackett is using it, it gets their attention. Then four days later people ring up from the college saying ‘What do we do? How do we go about this?’

JH: It’s about elevating the wool industry from being just a craft industry, which it has been for many years, into something that’s more sustainable and more commercial.

DC: It’s a great opportunity and it’s chance for all different factions to talk to each other: rural communities, farming communities, cloth makers and fashion makers.

Where do you go from here?

JH: This is only the beginning. It is not going to happen overnight but it’s something we’ll build on over the next few years. We’re right behind it. We are well known for our tweeds and English cloths anyway, but this adds another dimension to our brand. It’s something that I’m very proud of.

DC: It’s a long-term thing. Over time we’ll get more and more people involved. Wensleydale is the first breed and then we’ll highlight another breed and see what kind of products we can get out of that.

Head over to The Campaign for Wool Instagram page today where Hackett London and Douglas Cordeaux will be taking over the channel!

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