Merino wool: reporting for duty

Two hundred years of wool's versatility for military-influenced fashion

Man Style

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This January, for London Collections: Men, the bespoke tailors of Savile Row and The Woolmark Company once again present The English Gentleman: the modern face of British elegance.

Now in its sixth season, and on the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, The English Gentleman has a military theme highlighting the versatility, performance and style of Merino wool - with a showcase event at the Duke of Wellington’s former residence of Apsley House in London.


2015 marks the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo - a battle that was the culmination of a long military campaign fought by the Duke of Wellington and his armies. The events of 1815 were a historical watershed which brought more than 22 years of conflict in Europe to a definitive close.

In celebration of the Battle of Waterloo and the Royal Horse Guards, this January for London Collections: Men the bespoke tailors of Savile Row and The Woolmark Company showcased a journey through the different facets of British men's style during the period of the Duke of Wellington.

An event on 12 January at the Duke of Wellington's Apsley House - with the wonderful address: No.1, London - highlighted the face of British elegance.

The event encompassed Merino wool in each of the tableaux's created around the historic venue. It highlighted Merino wool yarns, fabrics and garments produced by some of the world's most prestigious manufacturers and tailors that embody craftsmanship and heritage.

Now in its sixth season, The English Gentleman presentation was a reminder of the fact that London is the world’s capital of masculine style, and has been for more than two centuries.

The English Gentleman was styled by Jo Levin, Creative Fashion Director of British GQ and presented by Anda Rowland, Sammy Aki, Lloyd Almond and the teams at Anderson & Sheppard and The Woolmark Company.

An accompanying film sees the modern English Gentleman in a number of key military-inspired styles visiting the tailors of Savile Row and iconic London landmarks.

The key items produced for the film include a multi pocket and versatile utility jacket with cream Melton narrow leg trousers, grey double breasted suit with charcoal grey great coat, tweed 3-piece suit, Covert cloth hacking jacket with Moleskin trousers, narrow leg Cavalry Twill trousers with Melton waistcoat, tweed overcoat and umbrella.

Pieces were supplied by Chittleborough & Morgan, Dege & Skinner, Gieves & Hawkes, Welsh & Jefferies, Richard James, Emma Willis, Budd, Turnbull & Asser, Anderson & Sheppard, Grenson and Edward Green.

Each of these essential items create the all-important capsule collection pieces for the coming Autumn/Winter 2015/16 season.


The display at Apsley House showed the true versatility of Merino wool and its abundance in garment uses, richness in colour, texture and softness.

Over 200 years ago the British regimental clothier documents reference Melton wool being used for military coats, waistcoats, trousers and breeches. It is still used today for military garments and also produced today for updated military-style garments in lighter weights that are wearable by today's consumer.  

Cavalry Twill has been worn by military cavalrymen throughout history, and made from Merino wool from a worsted spun wool warp with a woollen weft, tightly woven and then mill finished to emphasise the double-twill lines on the face of the cloth. Cavalry Twill is selected for its soft handle, textural surface appearance, and the variety of applications.

The Autumn/Winter 2015/16 season uses these historic fabric designs and weaves - and more - in iconic and updated styles to demonstrate the historic longevity and versatility of Merino wool. There is also innovation in technology and application through the addition of waterproof finishes to coats, wool/Escorial linings, and a wool/cotton blend for shirtings.

This versatility and performance of Merino wool is a key factor in why it has always been used across the centuries for military uniforms, and is still used today.

Merino wool naturally 'breathes', effectively regulating the wearer's body temperature keeping them warm in winter and cool in summer. Wool naturally absorbs moisture, and nullifies odour, resists static electricity and provides natural UV protection, does not ignite so is safe to wear. Merino wool has a natural elasticity due to the fibre crimp which helps garments resist creasing and retain their shape, and are less likely to pill due to the longer fibre lengths used in manufacture to ensure guaranteed garment performance.

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