Wool in the Frame

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Wool in the Frame with Winter Innovation 2018/19

The value of wool as a more sophisticated and versatile quality fibre, used for fabrics which have multiple technical and performance values are increasingly understood. Janet Prescott reports from Premiere Vision.

The cloudy, light looks which were the standout theme at Premiere Vision AW 18/19 are ideal for wool’s ability to be teased, brushed, and changed without losing its innate advantages. The result was a great deal of wool seen in intricate designs for winter fabric on show at Premiere Vision Paris. 

Opportunities for design are wide open at present as the retail area looks for more varied designs to fit the craze for individuality.   As a result, wool of various types including thicker yarns are being used for Autumn Winter 2018/19 to interpret themes for different areas.

Merino wool was widely used, often made more voluminous through spinning, or finishing techniques for substantial outerwear, like knitted or woven coats with a comfort zone. This trend also leads to the use of thicker yarns, bringing other wool types into the picture; blends with several different fibres to enhance advantages of each, with hairier yarns, synthetics combining with wool for interesting handles and surfaces. These can include softness or a drier, crepe-y feel.

Technical developments with wool included double-face fabrics, reversing to provide performance advantages on either side.  Various elegant and technical athleisure developments were presented, some developed by The Woolmark Company with various top-level mills, including top Chinese names.  British mill JR Clissold debuted a washable blue denim wool suiting. Jacquard designs gave richly decorated surfaces to knits and weaves, including performance yarns, for high drama, using intricate patterns for a 1980s flamboyant feel. 

The use of colour transformed many traditional looks, particularly noticeable among classic British and Italian producers.  Mills worked to provide many different decorative effects, especially with jacketings,  like black houndstooth on a bright pink ground, or an array of womenswear decorative tweeds, including Harris Tweed in unexpectedly light colours.  Checked jacketings and smooth worsteds with fancy yarn featured unexpected colour combinations with pink, green, purple and blues included with classic grey and black.

Worsted wool suitings had tiny patterns which could be seen close-up in main shades of blue, brown, and grey with microscopic coloured flecks. They ranged from ultrafine to a more substantial coarser quality with a dryer handle.  Fine qualities from traditional specialist mills in Yorkshire and Italy, using Merino and speciality breeds like Shetland and the resurgent Escorial proves the continuing attraction of formal fabrics, each with a very slight difference. Suitings from Turkish and Chinese top-quality mills stressed techno advantages of the easy care and stretch now indispensable for travel. Many apparently classic lightweight worsted suitings had hidden performance features; stretch, washability or stain resistance.

It is clear that messages of eco value and sustainability have been taken to heart by the quality industry.  There was scarcely an exhibitor which did not acknowledge the importance of certification and labelling, ranging from a simple label to a full-blown mission statement   Human wellness and animal welfare are also high on the international agenda, with the Campaign for Wool, Dumfries House Declaration clearly expressing the concepts; translations of the Declaration were offered to Chinese mills by IWTO, to present to their customers.

Warmth, comfort, and a large array of different lively designs were emphasised, all with a little extra. Wide choice is a major driver of current trends and wool is an important part of that choice.

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