Renaissance for wool industry as fashion world flocks back


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The Independent Online

Wool production in the UK is making a comeback, and to celebrate the resurgence of the industry the 2013 International Woolmark Prize will take place in London this week.

A renaissance of woollen products in the fashion world and a growing desire to wear locally produced fabrics have led to the growth.

The wool industry in Britain now boasts annual sales of more than £270m, up from £180m in 2007.

Demand for locally produced fabrics has been supported by designers and fashion houses including Paris-based Chanel, which bought the Scottish Barrie Knitwear cashmere mill out of administration last year.

The demand for wool has helped local businesses expand and the UK now has more than 40 operational mills.

The industry suffered from competition from cheaper overseas rivals, and had been in decline since the 1950s. However, the recent pace of growth has brought hope that the industry could be able to compete again on an international level.

Yorkshire manufacturer Abraham Moon & Sons has recently opened a new warehouse while Leeds-based Laxtons has invested in a new mill.

This year's International Woolmark Prize event, which picks the best emerging talent in designing products with wool, will be judged by Victoria Beckham, Donatella Versace, Diane von Furstenberg, Tim Blanks and Franca Sozzani.