As the Grand Depart creeps ever closer, Stephanie Smith reports on a campaign to promote Yorkshire’s fashion fabrics and design excellence to France and the rest of the world.
Some of the world’s finest fabrics come from Yorkshire – and it’s about time we made some noise about it.
From the catwalks of Milan to the salons of Paris and New York, Yorkshire fabrics are the very foundation of the most elite designer fashions in the world, although this is seldom realised.
“Yorkshire-produced textiles are the key ingredient in renowned fashion labels, couture houses and high-class tailors throughout the world, as well as for hotel chains, office furniture and military uniforms,” says Ann Thomson-Krol, textile consultant with UKFT (UK Fashion and Textile Association). “The Grand Depart International Business Festival gives us the opportunity to celebrate this.”
This event, which will take place at Leeds Carriage Works next Thursday, will showcase the creative talents and the technical know-how of the Yorkshire textile and fashion industry, and more than 30 companies are involved in the event – which will have a cycling theme.
The jewel in the creative crown will be the specially created Tour de Fleece fabric, which has travelled just 40 miles in its transformation from sheep to fleece to finished product, an eco-cloth that highlights Yorkshire’s skills, heritage and modern-day innovation of woollen worsted textiles and clothing manufacture, produced in a way that considers its environmental impact and aims to benefit Yorkshire sheep farmers.
Designed by award-winning textile designer 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.
Susan Gaunt originally developed the Yorkshire born and bred yarn/cloth with Laxton’s Mill in Guiseley.
“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,” she said.
It’s all in the detail, and creating this level of quality lies in the magical process of finishing, using the perfect soft Pennine water – an essential element from which the textile history of Yorkshire has grown. 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. Bespoke tailors Carl Stuart of Ossett created a jacket to showcase the unique cloth.
Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, has been sporting the said striking blue jacket to show off at Grand Depart events and visits. “It’s great to see Yorkshire’s heritage and home-grown wools being combined and crafted into something that reflects just that,” he said.
Meanwhile, Samuels Bros in Leeds created women’s jackets using the 40-mile fleece.
Suzy Shepherd of Leeds Fashion Works 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.”
The Tour de Fleece jacket joined other Yorkshire born and bred fabrics and designs on a photoshoot, featured here, taken in some of Yorkshire’s scenic spots – beautiful fashion and a stunning backdrop.
• These designers and manufacturers will all be taking part in the Grand Depart Fashion Show and Textile Showcase, organised by UK Trade & Investment and the Campaign for Wool, at Carriage Works, Millennium Square in Leeds, on Thursday, July 3, with fashion shows at 2pm and 4pm.
Photographer: Chris Lever of Show Fashion Ltd. All shot on location in Yorkshire, including at Aysgarth Falls, Wensleydale and Leeds-Harrogate railway viaduct.