Guest Post: Woolmark and London Collections: Men
Australian-owned Woolmark is perhaps lesser known for having helped launch the careers of both Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld, and over the past few years their presence and collaborations have been seen during Men’s Fashion Week, titled London Collections: Men. Their trademark assures customers that their certified affiliated vendors are using 100% pure, new, luxurious wool. Each season for London Collections: Men, over 130 designers, including Christopher Raeburn, Jonathon Saunders, Lou Dalton and Paul Smith exhibit their understanding of British men’s grandeur and elegance on an international scale. The display is a staple of the menswear calendar and this year has led it to be heralded as the most important showcase of men’s fashion in the world.
Woolmark’s vision is to be a significant contributor to a successful and stable wool industry, while providing only the highest quality fibres of a natural and renewable source. The Autumn/Winter season heavily featured merino wool, one of the finest and softest wools in the world. The industry’s use of merino wool provides stability, resilience, softness and luxury to the consumer. The fibre has long been a favourite of designers, with Paul Smith saying, “I have always been a fan of natural fibres….I still tend to stick with wool.”
GQ’s Breakthrough Menswear Designer, Jonathan Saunders, showcased merino wool in its most sophisticated form. With a collection of sharp and innovative silhouettes the wool’s natural performance properties were displayed, a pivotal characteristic. Presenting classic outerwear jackets and winter knitwear in vibrant reds and blues, Saunders took conventional pieces and reworked them while retaining wearability.
Inspired this season by her grandfather, Lou Dalton opened LC:M with pragmatism. Also using merino wool, she revealed oversized cashmere coats and brown corduroy. As modern innovation in fabric manufacturing allows wools versatility to be explored, this is evident in Dalton’s collection allowing pieces to function in both a dressed up or dressed down state. Bolstering this accessibility, she also offered lightweight yarns to encourage the transition from Autumn through to Spring.
LC:M saw Christopher Raeburn showcase merino wool as a naturally warm and renewable fibre in his Arctic themed display. Coat colours were muted in khaki, silver, grey and ice blue, with colour blocking appearing on bomber jackets. A yellow fisherman coat provided a lively pop of colour in the midst of proceedings. Discussing the alliance Raeburn said the Autumn/Winter season was “the perfect opportunity to develop our partnership with The Woolmark Company. I’m also incredibly proud that all of our wool pieces for Autumn/Winter will be produced in England.”
With LC:M being praised this year for its wearability and similarity to the man on the street, the industry is looking unstoppable. In 2012, it was reported to be growing at close to double the rate of the womenswear market, with an estimated worth of £10.5 billion in the UK. While Boris Johnson recently launched a new campaign to promote the booming British menswear industry abroad. And with the consistent support and input of Woolmark, whose company mission is to enhance the profitability and international competitiveness for wool, while increasing demand, that success looks set to soar.
By Clarissa Waldron