Anyone whoremembers the old Woolmark symbol, which was big in the 1980s, is probablyshowing their age. But, quietly, the Woolmark concept has been growing old moregracefully than most of us and is about to leap, rejuvenated, back intohigh-fashion focus. The concept of Cool Wool – the fibre woven or knitted inweights that work beyond the winter season – has been around equally long, butnow, due to modern fabric technology and innovative designer input, it isindeed cool in more ways than one.
When Woolmark opted to go lower profile, itcarried on advising designers worldwide on the best fabrics to use, anddeveloping the latest in wool technology. Now it feels it really has somethingto shout about: ultra-light, luxury merino wool produced to the finest specification sofar, which can be woven or knitted to be comfortable, is easy to travel in and (as a natural fibre) is good at controlling temperatures even in warmer weather. As aresult, it is launching two major initiatives. The first is a capsulecollection of 22 pieces by four top British designers, whose imaginationshave been caught by the yarn’s handle and versatility. Rather than create aseparate range, the designers have filtered the pieces into their main catwalkcollections as part of a co-ordinated look, but every item carries adistinctive Woolmark swing tag explaining the new fabric’s properties.
Thepieces are typical of each designer’s style and vary from Jonathan Saunders’slick red trouser suit and trenchcoat (first picture), through Richard Nicoll’s cool blue andgreen knits co-ordinated with spring skirts (second picture) and Mark Fast’s gauzy, on-trendmetallic knitwear (third picture), to JW Anderson’s edgy mixes of graphic shape, ruffle andknit. The limited-edition pieces arrive in store and online at The Shop atBluebird on Monday February 11, with prices from £280.
In one sense,this super collection is a curtain raiser for Woolmark’s second major initiative. The reconstituted InternationalWoolmark Prize is back, on a global scale, worth £100,000 to a wool-using designer andwith a judging panel including Donatella Versace, Victoria Beckham and Dianevon Furstenberg, all of whom utilise wool in their spring collections. There aresix regional finalists, from Europe, the US, India, China, Australia andJapan, and the winner will be announced on Saturday February 16, during London FashionWeek. The resulting special collection will be a hot ticket in stores comeSeptember.