London-based fashion designer Sadie Williams on her visit to AW Hainsworth in Yorkshire.
The Woolmark Company launched its Loom to London program in 2013 as an innovative way to introduce emerging UK designers to some of the best wool textile manufacturing facilities on their doorstep.
Taking the designers to visit select British mills, the program aims to improve their understanding of wool textile production and help them forge relationships with sourcing contacts within the UK. In turn, the program opens opportunities for the prestigious mills to showcase their business and explain their production capabilities to designers.
The ultimate goal is to inspire emerging designers in the early stage of their careers about the properties and benefits of Merino wool, and encourage them to continue to use the fibre in their designs as they progress through their professional lives. Past participants include designers Craig Green, Matthew Miller, Katie Eary, Lou Dalton and Agi & Sam.
The latest designer to join Loom to London was Sadie Williams - a London-based designer well known for her love of lurex but who recently contacted The Woolmark Company’s London office to further develop her knowledge and understanding of working with Merino wool.
Travelling to Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, Sadie and a team from The Woolmark Company visited fabric finisher W.T. Johnson & Sons as well as vertical mill AW Hainsworth - famous for supplying wool to England’s fire, military and police departments.
Sadie at fabric finisher W.T. Johnson & Sons.
“The trip has made me fall in love with wool even more,” said Sadie after the Huddersfield visit. “And I will definitely be using these fabrics again and again.
“As someone with a background in textiles, I have always had a massive respect for the quality of our heritage wool fabrics, but going to the mills and seeing the whole process from scratch has taught me so much about the work and skills that go into creating such a brilliant final product. Seeing the possibilities available in finishing fabrics has also got me thinking about how I may want to apply a considered and personalised finish to my textiles in the future.”
With Johnson & Sons and AW Hainsworth having more than 330 years’ experience between them, there’s a lot of knowledge to impart, let alone the history and changes the two companies have experienced.
“The mills used a fascinating combination of very old, traditional machinery and techniques combined with very modern and specialist ones,” said Sadie. “Seeing the modern technology was great, but it was really eye opening to see some of the older machinery and the care and attention required by the people working on them.”
So successful was the trip that Sadie will now be sourcing fabrics from Hainsworth and will include Merino wool in her forthcoming Autumn/Winter 2017 collection.