Wool has a big effect on the handle and drape of denim. In the quest for comfort, wool denim enhances the casual lifestyle choice that standard cotton denim offers. It is comfortable, it stretches, it breathes and adapts to environmental conditions shares Rob Langtry, Global Chief Strategy & Marketing Officer, AWI Woolmark.
Denim is one of the most popular fabrics across the world, with the humble jeans increasingly becoming a staple in consumers’ wardrobes. Becoming acceptable in the 1960s and then rising to fame in the 80s as ‘designer jeans’ stormed the runways, today, this indigo pant is a key piece for men and women of all ages, shapes and sizes.
Commonly made up as cotton twill fabric, research and development from The Woolmark Company has seen wool added to the mix, producing a Wool Denim fabric which offers the same strength and versatility as regular cotton denim, but has the extra resilience, elasticity and warmth found in wool. As the global authority on wool, The Woolmark Company–a not-for-profit organisation owned by more than 25,000 Australian woolgrowers – strives to be a significant contributor to a vibrant, stable and profitable wool industry, providing the world with the best natural fibre. The company works throughout the global supply chain – from woolgrowers through to retailers – and owns the world’s best-known textile fibre brand and the iconic Woolmark symbol.
For, The Woolmark Company, working with partners who manufacture a quality, cost-effective Wool Denim textile dentifies an opportunity to increase the market share of wool and provide consumers with an enhanced denim experience. With the world becoming increasingly casual, largely due to busy lifestyles, less formal workplaces and a desire for individualism, consumers are looking for products that can adapt and change with their everyday needs. And so The Woolmark Company’s latest category, Contemporary, addresses these growing needs and further cements wool’s rightful place as a modern, contemporary fibre. A fibre rich in heritage, Merino wool also welcomes innovation with open arms. Its natural benefits and infinite possibilities provide manufactures and designers with a blank canvas, and through Wool Denim it can connect with modern day culture and apparel trends. Denim is iconic in today’s world of acceptable casual apparel. A small amount of wool has a big effect on the handle and drape of denim. In the quest for comfort, Wool Denim enhances the casual lifestyle choice that standard cotton denim offers. It is comfortable, it stretches, it breathes and adapts to environmental conditions – warmer when it’s cool; cooler when it’s hot.
There are three main ways of using wool and cotton together in a denim fabric:
Intimate Blend: In the years gone by, wool and cotton have been blended together intimately to produce a wool or cotton blend denim fabric. Yet production developments including the use of machine washable wool yarns have led to a more cost-effective way to produce Wool Denim without having to intimately blend wool with cotton.
Wiil Warp: A small number of bespoke manufacturers will take the wool warp route, for example the IndigoWool TM from Malwa Industries, which can result in the production of luxurious 100 per cent wool denim if a pure wool weft yarn is used across the wool warp.
Cotton Warp: The third route is the one which will significantly contribute to the denim and wool industries. The Woolmark Company has worked with development partners to produce a wool or cotton denim blend which uses exactly the same cotton warp yarn as traditional denim, but replaces some, or all, of the weft yarns with machine-washable wool, allowing for the product to be washed with ease. The fabrics are finished the same as traditional denim, so you can rest assured style won’t be compromised, plus you gain all the natural benefits associated with wool.
Because 100 percent wool yarns are being used, consumers benefit from the fibre’s attributes including its natural resilience and elasticity to create new textures, drape, nextto-skin comfort, and most importantly, increases the level of warmth in your jeans.
As with traditional denim, Wool Denim fabrics are very flexible and a variety of combination weaves, stripes and jacquards are possible. The inclusion of elastane in the weft gives the fabric an element of stretch, garment dyeing is achievable by using undyed warp and weft yarns and if a traditional shuttle loom is used selvedge denim can be created. Different finishes can also be applied to Wool Denim.
We see a strong market potential for Wool Denim as consumers seek out added value and new options in denim. Last year Levi Strauss & Co produced Levi’s® wool denim 501® jeans, and more recently New York-based label 3×1 developed a capsule collection of Wool Denim jeans and jackets exclusively for The Woolmark Company. British designer Timothy Everest has also worked with Wool Denim, and Australian brands R M Williams and Toorallie have commercially available Wool Denim products.
With its cult following, 3×1 is committed to making the best jeans in the world, one pair at a time. Scott Morrison, who owns this unique denim label, boutique or atelier, forged a relationship with The Woolmark Company and is a staunch advocate of this innovative textile. We’ve used wool intermittently since we started 3×1. Wool has a totally different hand feel; it’s a bit more sophisticated, a bit drapier and obviously for the warmth properties. At a retail level, increasing the amount of Wool Denim products allows The Woolmark Company to engage with an emerging group of discerning, ‘urban’ consumers. There are various Wool Denim suppliers in key markets across the world, with India’s Malwa Industries being one example of such.