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Tartans, checks and fancies suit wool for AW19/20 

Wool continued its position as the major winter fibre for 2019/20 chosen by exhibitors at Premiere Vision. Colour and complexity characterised the offer. Tweeds, flannels and tartans were used as starting points for designers to take a new look at the classics, changing colours, blends and the size of patterns to add a touch of novelty for men’s and women’s wear.

Because the trend for light and airy layers continues, there is often a completely new handle achieved for traditional coating and jacketing, with looser designs woven or knitted in fine soft wool.  Bright designs in Featherweight Harris, meaning 140-500gms, make it a versatile fabric for men’s and womenswear, as well as more traditional hefty cloths with the appeal of the original.  Harris Tweed Hebrides, appearing on their partner Marzotto stand, introduced a natural waterproof resin said to give ‘’manmade performance’ in addition to the attributes of the naturally weather-beating fabric.

Stylish over-coatings at Fox Brothers, Marton Mills and Abraham Moon proved that there is a distinct place for heavier wool, and British wool played a major role here; northern sheep breeds and blends with other precious fibres, all adding information which producers can convey to the consumer. Similarly, luxury wool fabrics woven in wool from   the historic breed Escorial, seen at Joshua Ellis, fully traceable, fitting with the search of high-quality wool and top fibres.

 Menswear fabrics were lively and made the most of tradition up-rated for urban wear. Designs for worsteds and fine suitings were particularly inventive, with variations on Prince of Wales checks, pinstripes and country cloths re- imagined with large scale patterns, colour addition and surface decoration. These include, Donegal, pinstripes, chalk stripes, some adding cashmere or silk with Merino in pure wool high twists, striking weave effects and using colour in a bold way for traditionally monochrome designs, seen at classic Turkish and Chinese labels.

Fancy weaves like Johnston’s of Elgin, Magee and Robert Noble epitomised the attractive bright, cheerful look which characterised the season’s trends.  Wool checks in oversize were seen in many areas, including a turquoise pale blue by Marton Mills.  Blends with Merino included fashionable mohair, plus silk and cashmere, viscose, linen, including polyester in some qualities.  Flamboyantly printed wools and punky looks with oversize motifs, like large floral designs on colourful grounds, made it clear that many more fabric producers look towards the Far East for developing new markets, with colour and greater decoration of fabrics expanding in response. 

Bold tweeds for jacketing’s, jacquards in geometric patterns, tone on tone suiting’s, double face fabrics with areas of solid colour and milled, felted surfaces, bouclés and stripes of Lurex and contrast yarns trended for womenswear outerwear with checks in all areas. These ranged from traditional tartans and mixed up punk versions to cool underplayed     worsted checks in subdued dark urban tones  

Wool’s role in the next to skin sporting and athleisure area continues to gather pace. This PV fabric shoes in advanced wool development were displayed on the Woolmark Company’s stand.  Technical approaches to natural fabrics are making them a match for synthetic materials, with iconic brands taking them up fast. Wool with   performance features like water resistance, temperature control and washability are important across the board for athleisure. 

Colours for menswear led enthusiastically with brown, also applied to womenswear; deep, autumnal hues and a ginger shade for knitwear and woven jacketings has been adopted across the board. Shades of copper livened up jacketings with a metallic shine.  Despite this, the overwhelming colour for menswear was blue, from dark to mid navy plains to bright cobalt blue in some Turkish collections and a mid-blue, interpreted in plains or semi plains. Discreet wool fabrics played with barely- there jacquard motifs in greys, blacks and silver, underplayed but with an almost hidden pattern to be discovered close up.

– Janet Prescott

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