Two centuries of textile tradition in West Yorkshire have inspired a new campaign to promote one of the region’s biggest export success stories.
Wool Yorkshire will be launched during Campaign for Wool’s Wool Week (October 14-20) to showcase the fact that the mills of 21st century West Yorkshire are dynamic enterprises, buzzing with creativity and turning out premium quality woollen, worsted and cashmere fabrics for many of the leading global designers and fashion houses.
The initiative is being led by Jennifer Nickson of Keighley contract furnishing and interiors manufacturer Abbotsford, part of SIL Holdings, a Bradford based family textile business that is now one of the largest specialty fibre manufacturers and merchants in the world.
Along with SIL Luxury Fabrics colleague Sara Duxbury, Jennifer has been working with students from Leeds College of Art to bring the message to life.
“The Wool Yorkshire campaign aims not only to raise the profile of wool as a sustainable, natural fibre, but also to showcase Yorkshire’s textile industry as thriving and design-led , manufacturing for the top end of a multi-billion pound global fashion and interiors market,” said Jennifer.
A group of 20 fashion, millinery, furniture design, textile and creative students have helped to organise a week long exhibition in the Victoria Quarter, Leeds, illustrating Yorkshire’s role in the world of fashion, style and interiors. The exhibition is being supported by the Campaign for Wool and Harvey Nichols, which will dedicate one of their window displays to Wool Yorkshire during the event.
The students have worked closely with local manufacturers from SIL Holdings including Keighley-based contract furnishings manufacturer Abbotsford, fine worsted producers Charles Clayton, John Foster, Reid & Taylor and William Halstead in Bradford, Batley-based cashmere specialist Joshua Ellis, and Bradford-based fibre and yarn merchants Seal International and MBA Yarns.
Andrew Seal, group managing director at SIL, said cloth produced by the group’s Yorkshire businesses was exported to 23 different countries with the main markets being the Middle East, Far East, Italy and France.
“Our region’s mill towns are at the heart of a global fashion business which recognises the value of craftsmanship, quality, expertise and consistency, all things which derive from our textile manufacturing heritage,” he said.
“Yorkshire’s continued success in this cut-throat world is down to an ability to consistently produce innovative designs and to reliably exceed our clients’ quality and delivery requirements.””
Simon Thorpe, director of studies, professional and external development at Leeds City College, said the project had given the students involved an understanding of Yorkshire’s textile manufacturing heritage.
“Our students will have gained immensely from this project and hopefully some of their creativity will bring new perspectives to SIL’s brands and Yorkshire’s textiles industry,” he said.
Sue Stones, General Manger at Harvey Nichols Leeds spoke of her excitement about the store’s window display installation and Yorkshire’s involvement in the world of fashion.
“It’s inspiring to know that Yorkshire’s wool textile industry is behind some of the most luxurious and successful fashion houses, not only in the UK but in each of the fashion capitals around the world. Wool Yorkshire is the perfect platform for raising awareness and communicating the importance of wool manufacturing i