A flock of sheep adorns the front of the bird.
Beautifully made Aran garments are just one of many on sale through British Wool, which is headquartered in Bradford.
Sweaters, sweaters, ponchos, and shawls are among the items sold in the company’s online store. Scarves that will keep you warm in winter, beanie hats and multicolored socks made of Bluefaced Leicester wool.
The clothing and accessories are stylish, comfortable and functional – all made from British wool.
There’s even a line of fleece-lined boots to keep the winter chills at bay. And if you want to keep your pet cozy and warm, the shop sells British wool dog bedding. Not many people realize that wool helps regulate temperature – in animals and humans – in both warm and cold weather.
Formerly the British Wool Marketing Council, it was owned by around 35,000 sheep farmers in the UK. Since 1950, its goal has been to defend wool and the farmers who produce it, while promoting every aspect of its production and use.
“We collect, grade, market and sell British wool on behalf of our members to the international woolen textile industry for use in flooring, upholstery and apparel,” says Marketing Director Graham Clark.
“British Wool sells wool on behalf of its members in global markets through auction, to processors, manufacturers, retailers and ultimately consumers. Payments are made to sheep farmers at the end of the year after British Wool has sold wool on behalf of its members. Payments reflect both the weight and quality of Wool Delivered and are based on the average price achieved for each type of wool throughout the season.”
The headquarters, in the Wool House, just off Canal Road, has a showroom showcasing collections using British wool from Harris Tweed and Fred Perry to Woolroom and Camira Fabrics. The showroom is exclusive to grower members and licensees for events and meetings.
British Wool operates a licensing scheme that targets brands that use high levels of British wool in the products they produce. blueprint traces product through supply chain to ensure authenticity; Only then can brands use the internationally recognized trickster mark on their products.
British Wool Store launched in summer 2021, in addition to apparel offering a full range of products from its licensed partners such as bedding, apparel, knitting yarns and rugs. There’s even a warm British wool tea.
“Right now we have 20 brands on the site and we have plans to expand,” says Graham. “It is still relatively early days but we are pleased with the initial demand and our long-term goal is for the site to become the premier destination for authentic British wool-rich produce.
“We’re seeing more consumers interested in wool in the sleeping environment, and that’s due to the amazing natural properties of wool like being able to regulate your body temperature, and it’s a really great fiber in this application.
“We work with leading brands such as Harrison Spinks, Woolroom and Devon Duvets. Another strong trend is wool knitwear and we work with more brands than ever before in this space such as Fred Perry, Peregrine, Yan Tan and Richmond Knitwear As we move forward, we expect these trends to continue especially as consumers are increasingly looking for products that are more environmentally friendly and sustainable than synthetic products.”
Yorkshire is the “logical location” for the British wool base, says Graham.
“Bradford has been at the heart of the UK wool industry for many generations. A high percentage of wool processors (cleaners and spinners) are based in Yorkshire. However, we have seven other grader depots spread across the UK as well as 100 drop off points where our members can dispose of of their wool.”
There are over 60 different breeds of sheep in Britain – more than in any country in the world and each one providing a suitable wool for flooring, upholstery or clothing. British Wool grades every wool they handle – around 11 million each year. This process enables them to grade the wool which in turn dictates the best final application. For example, hill and mountain wool is great for rugs because it is a strong, strong wool that helps the rug bounce back into shape and also maintains its original appearance for longer.
“Soft and medium wool is great for bedding because it’s more springy, and it’s actually the most springy wool in the world, which means your duvets and pillows won’t lose their shape,” says Graham. “When manufacturers and brands specify wool, it is essential to use the right wool for the correct application, and the grading process helps them in this process.”
Inquiries come from all over the world. “British Wool is used all over the world and is a globally recognized brand,” says Graham. “The questions we get asked regularly revolve around what products wool can be used in; people are really drawn back by the diversity of UK wool clip and all British wool products end up in it. This is something we have worked hard on over the past few years, educating the supply chain.”
The British Wool store can be found at britishwool.org.uk/shop