Sustainable development in the global fashion and textile industry has been accelerated by the COVID-19 crisis. Consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable products and research by McKinsey&Co revealed “57% of shoppers agreed that they had made significant changes to their lifestyles to lessen their environmental impact”. For designers, brands and manufacturers looking for sustainable material solutions, wool is a natural, technical and circular fibre that can be easily integrated into sustainable material strategies. There are numerous pressures for the textile and fashion industry to shift to a more sustainable system. These pressures are demanding that brands and manufacturers rethink their materials strategies and choose bres that are less impactful on the environment. Australian wool is inherently circular and provides a solution for sustainable textile development.

Why is wool the future of sustainable fashion and what are some of the quality key benefits of wool for the customers?

Because wool is 100% natural, renewable and biodegradable fibre and refers to the fibres produced by sheep. However do keep in mind that not all wool is exactly the same. There are more than 1000 different breeds of sheep all over the world which produce a variety of different types of wool. Australian Merino wool is more complex than any synthetic or natual fibres. 

Wool is the future of sustainable fashion because it is 100% natural and renewable, 100% biodegradable, it is breathable and non-allergenic, it is super soft (softer and finer than human hair), wool uses 18% less energy than polyester and nearly 70% less water than other natural fibre to produce 100 sweaters, it is also the most reused and recycled fibre. While manmade fibres are petroleum based, non-biodegradable, microplastic pollutants, require more wasking, non-renewable to name some of it's key cons.

How does wool fit into a sustainable circular model?

With fibre production wool is as mentioned before renewable, in product manufacture it is slow fashion and not fast fashion, in distribution and retail it is again slow fashion, in product use phase it has a long product life and in product disposal it is biodegradable.

Wool forms a part of the natural carbon cycle. By storing the carbon from the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2), wool prevents the gas from contributing to climate change for the time the garment is in use. All this CO2 is removed from the atmosphere for the bre’s life – from when it is used by the grass during growth, to when it is converted into wool on the sheep, through the wool product’s use phase – until it is disposed of and biodegrades. For many wool garments, this period is greatly extended because wool is used or recycled in a variety of textiles.

There are a lot more opportunities with wool especially with technical deisgn, tracebility and circularity. 

Which are some of the key innovations and designs with wool?

Definitely some of the key innovations in wool to empashize are: wind and water-resistant wool fabric, wool faux fur, seamless knitwear, wool velvet, digital printing, wool footwear, wool wadding to name a few of the most important ones.

One in particular that we find spectacular is wool in footwear. Advancements in knitting technology have facilitated the use of wool in footwear. Combining wool with different yarns in a shoe upper draws on wool’s natural properties to promote dryness, breathability, freshness, comfort and warmth. With fully fashioned knitwear uppers, waste is reduced by directly mounting the shaped piece onto the sole of the shoe. Filament-wrapped wool yarns add strength and resistance to abrasion, extending life wear of the shoes making it slow fashion.

Australia is the largest producer of Merino wool in the world, with a total of 68 million sheep and 60,000+ woolgrowers producing 90% of the world’s wool used for ne apparel. With a commitment to responsible practices and animal welfare, Australia is also the largest exporter of non-mulesed wool in the world. Wool makes up only 1.2% of the global apparel market by volume, but makes up 8% of its value, rea rming wool as a luxury fibre. Australian Merino wool is much more complex than any of the synthetic bres and most other natural fibres. It is this complexity that provides wool with the unique set of benefits which cannot be matched by any other fibre natural or man-made. It also has som medical benefits: super fine Merino wool has been found to be beneficial to the skin, providing a natural adjunct treatment for eczema that reduces the need for traditional medicines.

In conclusion wool is a sustainable solution, it is breathable, it is good for the skin, it is renewable and biodegradable and it is odour resistant. Wool is the future of sustainable fashion don't you agree?

The Woolmark Company is the global authority on wool. Through its extensive network of relationships spanning the international textile and fashion industries, the company highlights Australian wool’s position as the ultimate natural bre and premier ingredient in luxury products.

 Learn and read more about wool here.