Agi & Sam’s journey with Merino wool and AWI started back in 2013, when the emerging label participated in The Woolmark Company’s ‘Loom to London’ program which takes up-and-coming UK-based designer brands to visit select British and European mills.
The aim of the program is to improve designers’ understanding of wool textile production and help them forge relationships with sourcing contacts. It is also an opportunity for prestigious mills to showcase their production process and fabric collections with fashion labels working with wool.
As part of the program, Agape Mdumulla and Sam Cotton - the talented design duo behind Agi & Sam - visited a number of mills in Yorkshire including Luxury Fabrics (owners of long-established British brands Charles Clayton, William Halstead, Reid & Taylor and John Foster) and Abraham Moon & Sons, before travelling to Huddersfield to visit fabric finishers W. T. Johnson & Sons.
“Loom to London was a great experience for us,” said Sam. “It was incredible to see the fabric production process in action from start to the finish, especially seeing how most of these techniques are so fundamental to the development of the perfect wool fabric and yarn.
“It made us start to think in a lot more detail about wool and the processes involved to make it into a commodity, breaking each step down and seeing how we could have an effect on its structure and aesthetic.”
This exploration of Merino wool’s benefits and boundaries helped propel Agi & Sam onto the world stage when the duo won the menswear award at the British Isles regional final of the 2015/16 International Woolmark Prize, and then went on to compete at the global final in Florence in early 2016.
The designers believe there are only benefits in using wool. “It’s the most luxurious fabrication for menswear,” Sam said before the global menswear final. “If you think of suiting and tailoring, it has to be made from wool. If it isn’t, it just doesn’t work.”
Agi Mdumulla and Sam Cotton, along with Nino Cerruti (second right), judged The Woolmark Company Texprint Award in September 2014 andawarded the prize to Tali Furman (second left).
As wool ambassadors in the United Kingdom, Agape and Sam have used this role to assist The Woolmark Company in continuing to foster the development and education of future fashion and textile designers. In September 2014, the duo - alongside the great Nino Cerruti - co-judged the prestigious textile design awards Texprint for graduate designers, and in February 2016 they sat on an expert industry panel for The Woolmark Company’s ‘Naturally Inspiring’ student seminars.
“Our relationship with The Woolmark Company has got stronger and stronger since day one,” says Sam. “The company is so great to work with as they really want to push hard to be at the forefront of not only wool, but also in the overall expression of fashion and culture.”
Agi & Sam’s partnership with The Woolmark Company most recently led to a collaboration with textile manufacturer Dormeuil, with the designers using a new, innovative Merino wool fabric in their latest Spring/Summer 2017 collection showcased in June at London Fashion Week Men's. By using finely spun Merino wool yarns and exclusive finishing, Dormeuil’s Exel fabrics have a super stretch quality, allowing exceptional recovery properties and comfort.