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Wool Week 2020: Yorkshire mills and RCA fashion designers collaborate for Campaign for Wool

Emerging fashion designers recently graduated from the Royal College of Art have collaborated with Yorkshire’s prestigious heritage woollen mills to produce unique garments marking Wool Week 2020

Future Fashion Factory connected designers and mills from its network of over 250 fashion and textile businesses and professionals across the UK. The result is a stunning range of unique pieces that celebrate the UK fashion industry’s global reputation for heritage, luxury, innovation and craftsmanship. 

View the garments in a virtual showroom

With support from Cardiff-based industry partners BrandLab Fashion, each outfit has also been translated into a virtual showroom where it can be viewed online.

About the collaborations

Each designer is a recent graduate of the RCA and has brought their own distinctive style to working with luxury cloth from historic mills, to create a unique one-off garment in honour of Wool Week 2020. 

Susan Postlethwaite, Senior Tutor (Research) Fashion, said that this innovative new project allows some of the RCA’s best graduate designers direct access to the UK’s top fabric producers and mills. 'This opportunity brings together unique design skills with exceptional textiles in a collaboration that showcases the best of our world class industry.’

Suzy Shepherd, Co-Director of Future Fashion Factory, said, ‘All of the designers involved in the project have told us what a dream the cloth and yarn has been to work with. Yorkshire’s mills have been producing luxury woollen products for centuries and continue in the spirit of innovation shared by RCA’s visionary designers. We are very proud to have brought these collaborations together, showcasing the unique manufacturing and design skills in the UK fashion industry.’

Lee Hurst & AW Hainsworth

Lee Hurst & AW Hainsworth jacket
Wool jacket, Lee Hurst & AW Hainsworth

Lee Hurst graduated from the RCA with an MA Fashion in 2020. He has teamed up with AW Hainsworth to create a striking tailored ladies’ jacket. It features a high collar as well as raw edges inspired by traditional methods Lee uncovered during his research into Victorian tailoring techniques.

Lee worked with a red and black bespoke ‘New Heritage’ jacquard fabric created by AW Hainsworth in 100% Merino wool. The fabric design is inspired by patterns taken from historic jacquard loom punch cards held at Leeds Industrial Museum, as part of a collaborative project by AW Hainsworth and Yorkshire Textiles last year.

Yvonne LIm, Shaonan Xu (The Array) & Joshua Ellis

Denim jacket by Yvonne LIm, Shaonan Xu (The Array) & Joshua Ellis
Denim jacket, Yvonne LIm, Shaonan Xu (The Array) & Joshua Ellis

Yvonne Lim (MA Fashion Womenswear, 2019) and Shaonan Xu (MA Fashion Menswear, 2019) have just launched The Array, a luxury designer label dedicated to empowering working women. After many women cited the denim jacket as a staple of their spring / summer work wardrobes during their research process, the duo took indigo lambswool from Joshua Ellis to produce a new take on the classic denim jacket in wool. 

Naturally elastic as well as stain and odour-resistant, wool also reacts to changes in temperature, keeping the wearer cool in summer and warm in winter. These properties make it a natural choice for workwear and activewear. 

Jennifer Koch & Laxtons

Jumper by Jennifer Koch & Laxtons
Jumper (front and back), Jennifer Koch & Laxtons

Jennifer Koch graduated from MA Fashion Menswear at the RCA in 2017. Working with the Sheepsoft Aran range of natural-colour yarns from Laxtons, she has opted for a textural-patterned, undyed ecru, chunky hand-knit sweater.  

The pattern will be available to download from the by Laxtons website, allowing keen knitters to recreate the luxurious hand-knit at home. 

Ben Osborn & Dormeuil 

Unisex jacket by Ben Osborn & Dormeuil
Unisex jacket, Ben Osborn & Dormeuil
Ben Osborn (MA Fashion Menswear, 2019) has collaborated with Dormeuil to produce a unisex jacket woven in Dormeuil’s Travel Resistant lightweight wool. With transparency and traceability in each stage of the fabric production process, the sustainable cloth has been developed for day-to-day use with resistant and active fibres. 

Tailored in a dark blue wool with subtle coloured shades in the weave, it features a single-breasted, three button closure and a knee length cut. It is constructed with padded shoulders and canvassed chest, fully lined and finished with horn buttons. 

Ben based the design on his MA collection, using traditional tailoring techniques combined with architectural silhouettes. Inspired by both naval uniforms and mid-century women’s couture, the jacket crosses over from menswear to womenswear. 

Danielle Elsener & John Foster

Three piece outfit by Danielle Elsener & John Foster
Three piece outfit, Danielle Elsener & John Foster
Danielle Elsener graduated from the RCA in MA Fashion Menswear in 2020. She has created a three-piece outfit in a combination of plain and pinstripe ultrafine Super 100s wool and mohair Summerstrand fabrics from John Foster. Mohair keeps the wearer cool in summer and the Summerstrand range is naturally crease-resistant. 

The short-sleeved button-down shirt, pair of shorts, and coaches jacket are all created using Danielle’s unique Zero Waste Design System AO2O, which won her a €50,000 grant from Virgil Abloh and Evian’s Activate Movement initiative for sustainable design and innovation projects earlier this year.

About Future Fashion Factory

Future Fashion Factory is part of the Creative Industries Clusters Programme, an £80 million initiative led by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). The Programme is led by the University of Leeds in partnership with the University of Huddersfield and Royal College of Art.