Commonwealth Fashion Exchange: Wool the green thread in sustainable fashion

21 February 2018

Wool has been showcased as the green thread in sustainable fashion at a special event held at Buckingham Palace as part of a new initiative called the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange.

HRH The Duchess of Cambridge with designer Karen Walker and a member of the Kuki Airani Creative Mamas at a reception celebrating The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange

The Commonwealth's 53 countries have united as part of the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange, showcasing artisanal fashion skills and highlighting sustainability within the industry. Designers included Burberry, Stella McCartney, Karen Walker and KitX.

HRH The Countess of Wessex, designer Lucian Matis, Nadja Swarovski, Secretary of State for Culture Matt Hancock and guests attends a reception celebrating The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange.

Hosted by HRH The Duchess of Cambridge and HRH The Countess of Wessex on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen, Head of the Commonwealth and attended by leaders in the fashion and sustainability industries, the event showcased wool as a natural, renewable and biodegradable fibre.

The exhibition brought the Commonwealth together to showcase a wealth of design and artisan fashion talent across its 53 countries. Participating designers and artisans were teamed together to each create a special look, marrying innovative design with traditional handicraft. The designs will be given a public exhibition at Australia House from tomorrow, February 22, and then move to other locations in London in the run up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit in April.

A collection of looks created for The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange.

The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange was developed by brand consultancy Eco-Age, headed by Livia Firth, in partnership with The Woolmark Company and Swarovski. MATCHESFASHION.COM will launch an edited collection of the designers' outfits in September, giving consumers worldwide the opportunity to buy these unique wool garments.

The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange is particularly timely as a global wave of interest in handmade products and authentic luxury causes a reassessment of the artisan fashion trades.

"As a company that markets a premium natural fibre, The Woolmark Company is very proud to be supporting this important project," said The Woolmark Company Managing Director Stuart McCullough. "Australian wool has been cultivated by generations of Australian woolgrowers who care for their sheep and work tirelessly to protect and conserve the extensive pastures on which their flocks graze.

"It is important that The Woolmark Company is active in the sustainability arena to clearly demonstrate the eco-credentials of wool. By supporting this global initiative, The Woolmark Company is highlighting Merino wool as a natural, renewable and biodegradable fibre to a cross-section of the world's most influential designers - and helping secure validity for Merino's eco-argument from respected experts and ambassadors in the field of sustainability.

"Wool continues to be an important premium ingredient in the global fashion industry. It is therefore exciting to work with Livia Firth and Eco-Age to make sure their principles of sustainable excellence are applied across the entire collections in this initiative and to see so much of our natural fibre, wool, being used."

Marrying ethics with aesthetics, Eco-Age is a globally respected brand consultancy working at the cutting edge of sustainability. Its founder and Creative Director is Livia Firth, who is a UN Leader of Change and has been recognised with the UN Fashion 4 Development Award.

"This is a project rich in partnerships and creative co-design," she said. "As someone who is passionate about joining the threads of global fashion and creating real partnerships you can imagine how exciting it is for us to be involved. The majority of the population of the Commonwealth is under the age of 30 so we needed to find something that spoke to the millennials, the young people."