Wool is a wonder material with a broad range of characteristics: It's hypoallergenic, it doesn't retain odor, it can insulate from either cold or heat, it's fire-resistant, it can absorb or repel water depending on how it's treated, it can be dyed many colors, and it can even be used for sound insulation, shock absorption and dampening, which is why you'll find it on everything from piano hammers to industrial machine mounts. It grows on an animal with an even temperament that survives on common grass, and it's sustainable; shave a sheep in summer and it can have its full coat back in autumn.
Despite all that—and more, according to Rob Achten of Icebreaker—the wool industry faces stiff competition from the synthetic fiber industry, which is why a five-year global initiative called the Campaign for Wool was launched in the UK, with the backing of Prince Charles himself. Now in its third year, the campaign creates global exhibits on the importance of wool; Australia's "Wool Modern" exhibition will move to the Queen Victoria Building in Sydney this Thursday, and will remain there until June. Future events will be held in France, Italy, China, New Zealand, the U.S., and other countries yet to be announced.
What caught our eye is that while wool's properties make it ideal for much more than clothing, the campaign's exhibits thus far seem to focus primarily on fashion, with the occasional rug thrown in. "Wool Modern," for example, displays the work of dozens of high-end fashion designers ranging from Alexander McQueen to Vivienne Westwood. But there's not a single high-profile ID firm on the exhibitor list. Even a casual browsing of Etsy will show amateur craftspeople producing wool goods ranging from wallets to iPad sleeves to raw sheets being sold and in past years on Core77 we've seen felt integrated into laptop surfaces, furniture, messenger bags and sexy items like Graf & Lantz's Quiver wine carrier.
In other words, the ID potential is there. So if you're a firm looking to capitalize on the free marketing of a global campaign and you've got some good ideas for wool products, click over to the Campaign for Wool website and learn how you can get involved.