Finer Wool that Meets Fashion’s Needs

Function meets form in British Wool’s comfortable and sustainable fashion face coverings.

The Face Coverings project has been a collaborative effort between British Wool and Future Fashion Factory, focusing on the design and manufacture of personalised, reusable face coverings as fashion accessories providing excellent thermo-physical comfort and, of course, aesthetic appeal.

While it is true that wool is among the more sustainable textiles that are available, British wool has often been considered to be too coarse to for many of wool’s potential applications.

It is with this challenge in mind, that British Wool and FFF have worked together to find new use-cases for coarser British wool types within the fashion industry, and in doing so, have also helped to develop new manufacturing supply chains in the UK.

We are delighted to be working with the Universities of Leeds and Huddersfield on this innovative project looking for brand new uses of British wool.”

Haldi Kranich-Wood, Product Manager at British Wool

The Demand for Fashion-Ready UK Wool

The huge demand for cheap, synthetic, single use facemasks, prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic has already caused major fibre repurposing issues worldwide.

Traditional sheep farmers positioned in northern regions of the UK, where arable land is scarce, have reared hardy animals that are able to thrive in the landscape. Naturally, these sheep produce wool that is unsuitable for facemasks. Where there is undeniably scope for more research in the technical applications for coarse wool, our collaborative project has begun to address that gap. 

By exploring the prototyping of new fabrics, academic lead Professor Parikshit Goswami, alongside a team of researchers at the University of Huddersfield, and the University of Leeds Professor Stephen Russell, have worked to produce a nonwoven variant of the woollen fibre, one that has the required porosity needed for fashion use-cases.

This project demonstrates how underutilised British resources could be used for manufacturing value-added products and create valuable innovation ecosystems with British farmers as primary stakeholders. This project also critically looks at a framework of how Life-Cycle assessment could be utilised to inform impact-driven material research.”

Professor Parikshit Goswami, University of Huddersfield

The University of Huddersfield have also taken varieties of nonwoven fabrics produced by The University of Leeds, and have made them viable by way of nano functionalisation techniques.

Outcomes of the Project

This project will allow British Wool to find new alternative technical yet fashion related applications for coarse British wool. Naturally, this project will help to support traditional sheep farmers positioned in northern regions of the UK where arable land is scarce and the optimal usage of the land is to raise traditionally hardy animals adapted to thrive in harsh environments.