UK's wool industry is making a big comeback thanks to demand from leading designers, after nearly being killed off by man-made fibres. Wearing wool is back in fashion. Sales of British wool have jumped by two thirds to Â£300m in six years. The annual sales have risen by 70pc from Â£180m in 2007 to Â£300m last year as the trend for typically British brands has come back into fashion.
The UK wool industry as a whole which includes clothing, accessories, carpets and transport upholstery is worth Â£3bn. Some 90pc is exported, mainly to Japan, China, Germany and the USA, as demand for British tweed and other â€œrough styleâ€ cloth and designs rises.
In its heyday the British wool industry employed 50,000 people at 140 mills but the industry has struggled in recent years. However, the UK wool weaving industry now employs 8,000 people in around 40 fully functioning mills. Production is growing at a rate of more than 10pc a year.
According to Lesley Prior, a sheep farmer based on the outskirts of Exmoor, supplies Cornish surf-wear brand Finisterre, the companies that survived have re-invested is growing again. It is a very exciting time to be in wool now.
They has had just 28 Bowmont Merino sheep when they started collaborating but now they have 200. The wool is sheared and taken to Yorkshire to be woven into cloth then on to Scotland to be turned into jumpers and beanie hats.
Once woven, the wool is mostly sold abroad as there are few brands which manufacture clothes in the UK.
It's time to snuggle up once again in a material that has long been out of favour. After years of being out in the cold wool is back in fashion and proving more popular than ever. Forty years after nearly being destroyed by the trend for synthetic fibres, the British wool industry is undergoing a renaissance.
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