Do you love the feel of snuggling under a woolen blanket? Or slipping into a snuggly jumper? There are so many more uses and varieties of wool than you realise. Wool is pretty much an Australian Icon and we have all grown up with sheep and their fleecy coats being part of our lives in some way. Wool is also one of the most sustainable materials we have available to us.
The Campaign for Wool, of which HRH Prince of Wales is patron, was proud to celebrate Wool Week recently, with some of Australia’s top fashion and interiors retailers, including Country Road and Sydney’s Designer Rugs, The Strand Arcade and department store David Jones, fashion designers and tertiary institutions. During 29th April – 5th May, Wool Week festivities took centre stage at various shopping destinations across Australia. Many of the in-store displays will continue through to 30th June.
This year for the first time The Campaign for Wool has partnered with eight interiors brands. They include Fanuli, Orson & Blake, Designer Rugs, King Furniture, Workshopped, Great Dane and Supa Centa Moore Park. The Campaign for Wool is designed to turn a spotlight on wool’s natural qualities and versatility. Each wool garment offers a range of natural benefits, comfort and softness.
Here are four fast facts about Wool
1) Wool is biodegradable; when it is disposed of in soil it will decompose over time and not end up as landfill.
2) It’s easy to care for and breathable, and its natural structure allows it to regulate body temperature keeping you warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s hot.
3) Wool being innovative, versatile and resilient is perfect for interiors and is becoming even more so through new technologies.
4) Wool fabric will stand up to years of everyday wear and tear, making it the perfect choice for interior products including upholstery, carpets, floor coverings, curtains and cushions.
Workshopped, who exhibit and retail Australian design products are collaborating with Tony Parker, founder of Parker Furniture, for The Campaign for Wool. Workshopped have partnered with Covemore Designs to re-introduce select pieces from the Tony Parker mid-century range, some of which I just viewed at DesignEx, and the range is totally gorgeous! Many of Covemore Designs craftspeople used to work with Tony Parker. A selection of these pieces are furnished with 100 per cent wool.
I am chatting with Wool and sustainability expert Tracy Mak today, to find out more about the ways in which Instyle Life Textiles utilise Wool and consider sustainability in doing so. Tracey started with Instyle as the company’s Environmental Manager in 2002. Instyle Contract Textiles is a leading supplier of design driven textiles, leather, vinyl and wall finishes for interiors.
INSTYLE’s LIFE Textiles was the first sustainable textile collection in Australia that addressed the entire lifecycle, from raw material sourcing to product recyclability – this is an outstanding achievement, what inspired this change, what drove the founder to begin to operate in a more sustainable way?
The main driver for embarking on our sustainability journey was due to architects and interior designers asking for company environmental policies. Our managing director decided to create a dedicated role to integrating sustainability within the whole company including the design and development of a benchmark sustainable textile collection.
Can you expand for us a little about what happens in your process that is different, that makes it such a sustainable collection?
We design our products to be as sustainable as they can be over the entire lifecycle, which starts designing the fabric from a single material to enable 100% recyclability or biodegradability of the product. We go right back to the farm by sourcing wool that has low pesticides and is from non-mulesed sheep, that are raised on holistically managed farms. LIFE Textiles are produced with low-impact chemicals such as biodegradable detergents and heavy-metal-free dyes from fibre to fabric. Our environmental criteria builds on best available practices from the EU Eco Label and the US EPA.
Can you tell us about EthEco® wool and why wool is a sustainable material?
Wool was a natural choice for us in developing LIFE Textiles, it is the ideal material to use in interiors as it’s naturally fire retardant and soil resistant. It is also a soft, natural material that ages well, unlike many other fibres. And lastly wool is able to be sourced locally, and produced by local manufacturers, which was important to us.
EthEco wool has all the advantages of wool and we took it further with sourcing from farms that were committed to animal welfare, environmental care and human health.
The collections are designed and developed to high technical standards by your inhouse design studio and produced by leading manufacturers in Australia, New Zealand, USA and Europe – can you introduce us to a couple of the designers?
We have three textile designers, Carol Debono and Jacqueline Curry, both from the UK and Madeline McGregor from New Zealand. We have also collaborated with other designers such as Lori Roop in the USA and Michael Young, an industrial designer based in Hong Kong.
You have a huge number of clients which mean many of us will have sat on or been inside a building using your textiles, can you tell us about some of the ranges and where we might see them in the public arena?
Our fabrics have been used throughout many spaces in Australia and internationally including Westpac, ANZ, Optus, Bank of QLD, Monash University, Victorian State Library, Victoria State Parliament, Queensland University, Brisbane Convention Centre.
INSTYLE has played a lead role in driving positive environmental change within the textile, building and interiors industries by advocating for comprehensive, lifecycle-based products and standards. Consequently INSTYLE has won numerous major sustainability awards such as the United Nations’ World Environment Day Awards and the NSW Government Green Globe Awards – it’s not always easy to be leaders in this arena, what aspects of the business in particular do you think support and enable the team to continue to drive for change?
It hasn’t been easy, however it’s more difficult to accept the status quo when environmental standards reflect business as usual practices, without any meaningful environmental improvements. For instance a polyester fabric with no recycled content and is not able to be recycled is recognised as an environmentally preferred product by the Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA).
There is also the Green Building Council of Australia that rewards the use of any product that carries an eco label, such as polyester fabrics certified by GECA. We do not think this is environmental leadership.
You offer such a wide range of product! Do you have a particular favourite?
It’s difficult to pick a favourite but our LIFE Textiles and ecoustic collection would be at the top of the list, and other beautiful wool-rich fabrics such as Feel and Calibre.