Wool Lifestyle

Our New Zealand wool has impeccable attributes. The integrity of the fibre is outstanding with a lot of effort being poured into its credentials as a truly sustainable material.

None of this matters if we forget to mention how wonderful it is to experience life with wool in your habitat.

Our wool is life enhancing. Wool is a fibre evolved by nature over centuries to provide warmth and safety. It does not melt. Wool won’t attract oily stains like some synthetic fibre.  Wool can breathe and moderate humidity making it great for asthma sufferers. Wool absorbs noise unlike hard floors. Manufactured right 100% wool products will outlast other materials and keep looking good for a very long time.

But what really matters is that wool feels lovely.

People aspire to luxury, and people like to feel good about their investments.  We have the fibre that delivers a luxurious and responsible lifestyle.

anika

 

Just a Drop

Wool makes beautiful fabrics.

In fact really good wool, with smart design can create stunningly attractive materials that perform brilliantly, as evidenced by Synergy, Camira Fabrics latest range of upholstery fabric.

RT_IMG_0725v2

The Synergy range is made up of 75 shades, each constructed with a high content of pure New Zealand wool.  Some in combinations of subtle mélanges, others in piece dyes solids.

Textile manufacturing does use a lot of water for cleaning wool and colouring fabrics but luckily Wools of New Zealand and Camira Fabrics both have the luxury of being in parts of the world where water is in plentiful supply.

New Zealand wool factory

Wool growing in New Zealand

We know that not all parts of the world are so fortunate with an estimated 750 million people without safe water.   Camira has invited Wools of New Zealand to donate to international water aid charity Just a Drop, for every metre of fabric sold.

For a start, together and with the help of others in the Synergy supply chain we will build a water tank at Ikalaasa Primary School in Kenya to provide clean water to 460 pupils.

All the details about Synergy are here.

Ikalaasa-Students-2-Camira-Fabrics-high-res

Pupils at Ikalaasa primary school in Kenya

Synergy just feels nice doesn’t it!

Second Life SolidWool

SolidWool are a brilliant young company making beautiful items from Herdwick wool.   Hannah and Justin Floyd do an amazing job of designing, manufacturing and marketing their products made in England from British Wool.  Recently we have been working with SolidWool to help find a second life for wool carpets… Full story below.

The SolidWool story is at SolidWool

 

solidwool1

SolidWool table and chair made from recycled wool carpet.

400,000,000kg of carpet fibre is disposed of each year in the UK! Carpet recycling UK have done a great job of diverting almost 1/3 of this into recycled products like Crumbwool carpet underfelt. But we still have a long way to go and we are not even touching post consumer wool carpets.

Recycling is good, but up-cycling is better. By creating added value, sought after products from rescued wool fibre we hope to inspire more investment in up-cycling.

We asked SolidWool to help us on our recycling challenge and they made us these amazing chairs and a coffe table from post-industrial rescued carpet fibre, seen here on the Wools of New Zealand stand at Domotex.

solidwool2DSC_0212

Thanks to Carpet Recycling UK, Anglo Recycling and SolidWool for helping us ensure wool fibre has a second life.

more detail on this story on the Great Recovery website.

 

Forensic Integrity

It is the start of 2016 so I predict ever increasing scrutiny of supply chains to ensure that social and environmental values are not compromised in the supply of products and services to consumers, wherever they are and wherever stuff originates.

Starting with the luxury brands, as always, there is a growing demand for complete transparency. We are going to see more labels asking for trust and we are going to see more activist shooting down the tall poppies.

Several years ago we started Laneve, working with a few trusted partners to provide wool carpets and textiles from managed and transparent value chains. At the time we thought transparency was key, but really transparency is just a tool that proves integrity.

As we move beyond a few partners wanting to build trusted brands to a world that must have trust, thanks Volkswagen for making this point loud and clear, we now need to move beyond paper trails and use science to back up claims on origin, provenance and therfor integrity.

Wools of New Zealand have partnered with Oritain to scientifically verify that the products made from our wool have not been tampered with or dumbed down.

This video says it best..

Oritain with Wools of NZ – Fine Cut (1) from Mathew Bartlerr on Vimeo.

Travel New Zealand - Sheep Farm

Flock of sheep, New Zealand.

Working with nature.

Some very famous brands have been talking to us recently about ethics.

Concerns have been raised about the wool fibre grown for their products. Animal activist groups, and lets be fair, who don’t really have a good reputation so far as unbiased and honest report go, claim that humans eat sheep. This is true; their claims are a worry in that they also claim that sheep are treated cruelly during their life on the farm.   At this point please be clear that they are not accusing New Zealand farmers!

 Here is the truth.

Sheep are grown all around the world. Local customs and local environments mean that standards and practices vary.

In New Zealand there are strict laws on animal welfare, good environmental management and social welfare. It’s a modern society with lots of checks in place to ensure that everything is done in a nice way.     The clean and green New Zealand brand is fiercely protected. The last thing Kiwi’s want is to be seen as out of sync with nature.

New Zealand farmers are animal lovers that enjoy working with nature. Sheep are grown for food with wool being a relatively small part of the farmer’s income. The sheep are kept in large free-range properties, are sheltered, well fed and well looked after. A happy healthy sheep is a more productive animal.

The wool is taken from sheep once or twice a year depending on the type of sheep and the type of product the wool is grown for. During the shearing process the sheep are held in pens while they wait for their haircut. The sheep are held by the shearer in a relaxed state, and do not resist this process. They then go back to the paddock.

The farmers look after the land so that it can be passed onto their children and they look after the animals so they will be productive and keep giving us wool.

Not all parts of the world are as plentiful as New Zealand enjoying as much rainfall and sunshine and a moderate climate for wool.  Third-world farming communities need our help and support so they too can reach maximum potential.

Rather the calling for a boycott on wool, which hurts the good growers, why not work with these communities and show them how it’s done. Shunning third world farmers out of your own ignorance does not make the world a better place.

Campaigns of anger create tension; destroy livelihoods and ultimately force people to do desperate things to feed their family.   These extremist need to put down their digital placards and become part of the solution.

The video below illustrates the shearing process. Which as well as not causing any discomfort to the sheep, provides a livelihood for many hundreds of thousands of people in the textile industry around the world.

The Perils of Fast Fashion in Interiors

Interior fashion cycles are getting faster with the gap between the catwalk and interiors stores getting shorter all the time.  Associating interiors brands with celebrity and high fashion can be good if this lifts the perceived value of an item, which is then treasured for its aesthetic and its quality.  The manufacture of heirloom pieces is great for building long-term robust and sustainable value chains.  When true craftsmanship is rewarded and quality materials are sought after then the people that grow fibre, sew garments and weave carpets and fabrics all can share the rewards.

It all falls apart however if we follow the fast fashion business model. If textile mills and retail outlets focus on fast turn-around of low quality items from non-sustainable value chains we end up creating waste, using more energy than is required and supporting the throw-away society.

It is better to create beautiful textiles from sustainable materials and to build them well so they last a long time, rather than to manufacture oil based products with the promise to recycle them one day.

The fast fashion culture encourages corners to be cut and lives to be endangered, think Rana Plaza.   This is not just an apparel issue.  There are carpet schemes that guarantee no child labour, but do not take care of the children that are banished from the rug mills.  Those children sometimes move to more dangerous factories.  No we don’t want six year olds making our carpets, we want them in schools paid for by the sale of carpets.

There are rug retailers that push so hard on price that the weavers are forced to use extremely low quality materials and pay very poor wages.  Eliminating unnecessary waste and reproduction is the best thing we can do for the planet and for the people that live here.  Buying something cheap with the aim of throwing it away is the worst legacy we can leave behind.

Children removed from rug factories are often just moved on to other industries.

Children removed from rug factories are often just moved on to other industries.

The Renewable Colour Challenge for 7 Billion People.

7 Billion Cups of Coffee and no Sheep but its OK we can recycle the fishing nets…

Perhaps its time to step back and look at what we are doing?

Before man stared making synthetic fibre and dyes from oil there were far fewer people on the planet.  With only 1 billion people and very few of them in developed economies the world could easily produce enough natural fibre and pigment to satisfy demand.

Well not quite; Rich people had colour and poor people wore beige. The invention of synthetics dyes in 1856 by Perkins and then fibre almost 100 years later meant everyone could afford mass produced textiles. Luxury was affordable and become the norm.

perkins mauve

Perkins Mauve Oil Based Dye.

That was then, in the late 1800’s we though oil was going to last forever. It turns out that mass-producing synthetics was cheaper, but not sustainable.

It has been argued that we cannot go back to natural products, as there are now 7 billion people all wanting modern western lifestyles.

There is simply not enough planet earth to provide natural fibre and colour for 7 billion worthy citizens.

Apparently It is OK to use vast areas of countryside and cheap labour to grow luxury drinks like coffee, but it is not OK to use vast land areas to grow pigments or cotton from plants.   Food takes priority, even if its coffee, tea and cocoa.

This to me sounds like an argument to prolong our addiction to man-made fibre.

Oil based industries need to drive demand so they tell us they are saving the world, giving us a lifestyle that we otherwise could not afford. Unfortunately they have a point.

The challenge in 1856 was to create colour for the masses, which Perkins accidentally solved while trying to make a vaccine.   The challenge now is to create a circular economy and create textiles and colour from rapidly renewable materials.

 The challenge is 7 times greater and 7 times more urgent than it was in 1857.

Where do we begin?   We begin small, niche and high-end.  Perhaps natural fibre and natural colour can only be produced in small quantities, for wealthy people who want something real.   Coffee and chocolate started niche too, but now millions of people around the world earn their livelihood by producing a luxury product that nobody actually needs.

We don’t save the world by using a recycled cup.  We save the world by not using the cup in the 1st place.  Use a ceramic cup and use it 1000 times,  not an oil based cup that’s used once and might be recycled.   Same goes for textiles and carpets,  Wool carpets last longer and are 100% renewable.  Where did your plastic carpet come from?  Is the synthetic fibre company going to plant a new dinosaur for every litre of oil they use?  Maybe they will make it from a plastic fishing net which also never should have existed in the 1st place.   Make those nets from renewable fibres that break down in water and there is no problem to solve.

Lets take a step back and stop creating problems to solve so we look less bad in our marketing propaganda.  Lets just plan to be naturally good.

Coffee Production.

Coffee Production.