Apr 01, 2011 12:00AM

Campaign for Wool

You'll never be able to look at sheep in the same way.

The image of a husky, rough and ready farmer shearing a sheep is one that is quintessentially Australian. All those with the fear of an article on Farmer Wants a Wife in their hearts can leave their worries at the door - it is not so much the farmer that shapes this vision of Australian outback culture, but the sheep. Besides their apparent ability to avoid all processes of natural selection - the population of sheep outnumbers that of human beings - sheep are actually more valuable than they could probably ever understand, and it's all due to their wool. As one of our largest exports and the most environmentally sustainable fabric out there (not to mention super warm!), it's about time the wool industry received the recognition it deserves. And yes, the rough and ready farmer can get a well-deserved pat on the back, too.

Romance Was Born Richard Nicoll Wool

It is these thoughts exactly that inspired HRH Prince William to launch the Campaign for Wool in 2010, which has since been advocating the benefits of wool, while simultaneously encouraging global industry associations and businesses to utilise wool in textile production processes. The first action, in what is said to be a five-year initiative, was the closure, greening-over and introduction of over 40 sheep to Savile Row, an iconic London street famous for its tailors. The week-long event saw over 100 companies promoting the natural benefits of wool and thousands of consumers participating in events and activities. Greater support for the sheep farming industry from the wider international textile industry is just one of the predicted outcomes of the campaign. On a smaller scale, the campaign harbours an attempt to convince consumers themselves to opt for wool!

The Australian launch of the campaign took place on Tuesday at Admiralty House on Sydney Harbour, featuring an address by Governor General Quentin Bryce and 150 real, live sheep! To add to the animal-fuelled excitement, 30 international fashion designers showcased their wool designs, including Collette Dinnigan, Matt Jensen, Dion Lee, Jenny Kee and Richard Nicoll, the latter of which sat down with Oyster to divulge his opinions on all things woolly.

Oyster: Why do you feel it is important to promote such a traditional and seemingly ubiquitous fabric?
Richard Nicoll: Wool is an enduring and classical wardrobe staple and I like a tailored look mixed with soft silks, so it was an obvious choice.

What properties does wool offer that appeals to you as a designer? Does its present any challenges at all?
Wool offers structure and classicism.
You're a very busy and far-reaching designer, having recently become design director of womenswear at Fred Perry and also launching capsule collections for the likes of Sportsgirl and Topshop. How do you manage to juggle everything?
I just have to be organised and disciplined and try to stay fit!