Tour de Fleece
Sheep to fleece to finished product – the forty mile fleece, travelling just forty miles from fleece to fabric, celebrates the spotlight on Yorkshire with an eco cloth that highlights the skills, heritage and modern day innovation of woollen worsted textiles and clothing manufacture in the region.
Yorkshire is renowned for its countryside and acknowledged as the home of the most sought after textiles - used by many of the world’s leading fashion brands - the Yorkshire Textile cloth has been designed by Susan Gaunt working with Suzy Shepherd of Leeds Fashion Works and Yorkshire Textiles. The cloth has taken homegrown British wool into the league of luxury fabric with an enviable eco pedigree that considers the environmental impact of its production and also aims to benefit Yorkshire sheep farmers.
Susan Gaunt who originally developed the Yorkshire born and bred yarn/cloth with Laxton’s Mill in Guiseley said “I wanted to reinvent the image of British wool and show that a soft luxurious cloth could be created from what has often been an undervalued resource with the minimum environmental impact”.
Creating this level of quality cloth is a process that maximises the use of the near magical process of finishing – the textile history of Yorkshire has grown from the perfect soft Pennine water that is essential in this final process of production. The role of one of the world’s leading textile finishers, WT Johnson’s, based in Huddersfield and established in 1910 has been key in creating this final product.
With the expertise of bespoke tailors ‘Carl Stuart’ of Ossett whose skills and services are in demand by many of the country’s leading tailoring companies a jacket has been created - designed to showcase the unique cloth along with the skills of bespoke tailoring in the region.
The talents of a young designer and cutter at Samuels Bros in Leeds have been used also to create ladies' jackets from the forty mile fleece.
Suzy Shepherd, one of the founders of Leeds Fashion Works and Yorkshire Textiles said: “We have been working closely with Leeds Industrial Museum and drawn on their partnership with Bradford Industrial Museum to ensure an authentic heritage weave – this cloth truly represents Yorkshire."
Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire said: “It’s great to see Yorkshire’s heritage and home grown wools being combined and crafted into something that reflects just that. Our county is famous for its countryside and agriculture, so to have a product that is eco-friendly and 100% uniquely Yorkshire is great news.”
Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council’s executive member for leisure and skills said: “The specialist skills which are needed on a project such as this one are a real testament to the tremendous history, tradition and innovation which exists in Yorkshire’s manufacturing and textiles industry. It’s brilliant to see the heritage and skills of years gone by influencing work going on today and in the future. I can’t wait to see the final results.”