On the lawns of HRH the Princes of Wales’ residence, Clarence House, the patron of the Campaign for Wool stood in front of a large crowd to further champion the extraordinary properties of wool as the global campaign celebrates its fifth anniversary.
A woolgrower himself, HRH the Prince of Wales understands the importance to educate and raise awareness amongst consumers about the unique benefits of wool – the ultimate natural, renewable and biodegradable fibre.
Of the commonly used textile fibres, including cotton, rayon, polyester, acrylic and nylon, wool is widely regarded as the most flame resistant, and its incredible inherent properties mean that it will neither melt nor stick to your skin or furnishings.
The day before the event at Clarence House, the Campaign for Wool patron, along with the Campaign for Wool chairman Nicholas Coleridge CBE, conducted a flammability test on wool in a specially constructed fireproof stage and filmed the experiment.
Put to the test was a wool duvet, a wool jacket and wool carpet, along with their synthetic counterparts.
The flammability test film was screened at the Campaign for Wool celebrations, showcasing the different results achieved between wool and synthetic fibres. Whilst the synthetic items burned and the jacket even melted, the wool items did not go up in flames. This is because wool has a complex cell structure, high water and nitrogen content and a high ignition point, meaning even if it does catch alight the flame will not spread nor melt the wool fabric.
Do these results change the way you think about furnishing your home?
• Wool’s inherent chemical structure makes wool naturally flame resistant. It is a highly trusted natural fibre in public areas such as hotels, aircrafts, hospitals and theatre.
• Wool is harder to ignite than many common textile fibres. Whilst cotton catches alight at 255°C, the temperature must reach 570-600°C before wool will ignite.
• While polyester melts at 252-292°C and nylon succumbs at an even lower 160-260°C, wool never melts so it can’t stick to the skin like many common synthetics, sparing burn victims from significant medical complications.
• In the unlikely event that wool does ignite, it won’t normally sustain a flame, because its natural chemical structure means it requires more oxygen from the surrounding air than the atmosphere normally contains. It either burns very slowly or goes out. If it does catch on fire, it produces less smoke and harmful gases than with most synthetic materials.
An amazing feature of wool is that while wool products can last for many years and retain their ‘as new’ look, wool is highly biodegradable in soil. Being a natural protein substance, wool readily biodegrades and substantial biodegradation can even occur within a matter of weeks in healthy soil.
Many synthetics, on the other hand, are extremely slow to degrade – such as common polyesters and nylons, which can take about 40 years to degrade. And with the average person producing about 500kg of waste each year, 25kg of which are textiles, natural fibres such as wool play an important part in reducing landfill.
Keen to demonstrate the biodegradability of wool, HRH the Prince of Wales cast the first shovel of soil in a flowerbed at his Clarence House residence. Buried side-by-side in the plot was a sweater made from wool and another made from a synthetic fibre.
“I a m pretty sure we will discover that wool does no damage to the earth, simply replenishes it, whereas the masses of synthetic material we put in the ground simply stays there and eventually leeches many damaging chemicals,” explained HRH the Prince of Wales during the Campaign for Wool celebrations.
The two items of apparel are to be dug up in just shy of four months’ time during the UK’s Wool Week, October 6, to illustrate what - if anything - is left in the soil.
As part of the campaign’s celebrations, a selection of the best wool items from the autumn/winter collections of Campaign for Wool brand partners in fashion and interiors was exhibited on the lawns of Clarence House. To bring these elements to life, 15 models were grouped into four distinctive looks, including: Bespoke, Young Talent, Textile Innovation and The Great British High Street. A strong focus on wool within The Great British High Street was prevalent within the display, showcasing wool’s versatility at every price point, with items starting from £30.
Styled by Anders Soelvsten from LOVE Magazine, the fashion looks featured an eclectic mix of brands including Anderson and Sheppard, Gieves & Hawkes, Richard James, Marks & Spencer, Jigsaw, Timothy Everest, Zegna Tech Merino, Sibling, Barbour, Jaeger, John Lewis and Heals.
Interior pieces from critically acclaimed Sanderson, Camira, Tai Ping, James UK, Bute Fabrics, Heals and Sofa.com were also on display and were used to complement each of the fashion pieces to complete each look.
Join Dame Vivienne Westwood, Sir Paul Smith and HRH the Prince of Wales
International Wool Week 2013 takes fleece to the streets