When you’re a producer of top quality fabrics to the most prestigious tailors and textile business around the world, and manufacturer of the finest suits, the quality of the raw ingredients is always going to be paramount. It’s why Scabal Executive Chairman Gregor Thissen travelled to Australia in September 2013, and what ultimately led to the conception of The Scabal Noble Wool Club.
“I really wanted to go more in-depth, right into the roots of the wool industry,” Thissen tells The Rake, the publication that followed in his footsteps to uncover the true provenance of Australian Merino wool. In response to menswear consumers showing an increasing appetite for traceable quality, Thissen was after first-hand experience of the excellence and tradition that stretches right back to the very beginning of the supply chain.
“I was really struck by the people I met, and the passion and dedication that they put into their work — they put their lives into it. I really like their connection to the soil, and to the countryside and the animals. Working with these guys, we can enhance the product and make it even better — better fabric, with better crease resistance and recovery, which means when you travel with it, it retains its shape better.”
Highlighting the hugely important role of Australian woolgrowers in producing not only an extremely high-quality fibre but also a natural, biodegradable and renewable resource, The Rake meets Murray Picker, one of the Scabal Noble Wool Club members. A sixth generation farmer, Murray explains the importance of genetics and breeding to the farming of wool on his property in Bigga, a village in the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales, Australia.
Conceived by Thissen and The Woolmark Company in order to preserve and promote ecologically sustainable and economically fair farming, The Scabal Noble Wool Club requires members to satisfy a rigorous set of criteria, which goes beyond fibre diameter, to ensure the end result – fabrics such as Scabal’s ‘Noble Fleece’ and suiting that sells on Savile Row – is of impeccable standard.
Equal levels of excellence are expected of the staff at Scabal Mill in Huddersfield in West Yorkshire, where The Rake finds a 500-year heritage of skill, precision and attentiveness stemming from a ‘heartfelt respect for tradition’ and quest for technical innovation. It is here that Merino wool yarn is woven into fabric in the final stages in the pursuit of fabric perfection.
Part two of The Rake’s investigation of Scabal and the rebirth of wool features in the publications April edition.