H.R.H.Prince Charles. Photo by NZPA.
Prince Charles has leapt to the aid of Australian, New
Zealand and British wool producers, launching a project to
increase demand for fleece.
Concerned about the low prices farmers have been receiving
for wool, the prince has teamed up with growers from the
three nations and UK retail giant Marks and Spencer to make
wool fashionable again.
Launching The Wool Project on Tuesday, Prince Charles said
wool had many benefits, including sustainability, but the
future of the material was "looking very bleak indeed".
"Its capacity to retain warmth, even when wet, has made it
the clothing material of choice for our species -- as well as
for sheep -- since the Stone Age," he said.
"The sad truth is that around the world farmers are leaving
sheep production because the price they get for their wool is
below the costs of actually shearing it."
The prince also highlighted the fire retardant and insulating
properties of wool.
He encouraged people to think twice about "the seemingly
trivial decision about whether to buy a wool carpet or its
manmade alternative, or the decision to buy a wool coat as
opposed to a polyester jacket".
"The wool industry is truly international, and I am
particularly glad that The Wool Project is now a partnership
that includes the wool-growing organisations of Australia,
Britain and New Zealand," he said.
The move follows a meeting the prince convened in February
2009 including producers, fashion, retail and carpet industry
representatives, textile designers and fire fighters.
Peter Ackroyd, an adviser to industry body Australian Wool
Innovation Limited in the UK, said the project planned to
hold a "wool week" in Britain in September, showcasing the
fabric in major department stores.
The event would promote wool as a natural, sustainable and
"There has been a shift towards manmade textiles, and the
Prince of Wales deplores this because the manmade fibres end
up in landfill," Mr Ackroyd said.