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Slow fashion: The history of our sustainable wool

Our relationship with Italy is a fruitful one. Since we started making Duffle coats in 2001, we have always used the finest Italian wool which, for the most parts, has also been recycled thus helping keep our products sustainable. Italian fabrics have always been amongst the best in the world and the history behind Prato wool is as rich as the fabrics themselves.

Wool manufacturing in Prato has a long history, dating back to the Middle Ages. The city's central location in Italy, along with its access to important trade routes and waterways, made it an ideal location for wool processing and textile production.

In the early days of the industry, raw wool was imported from England and other parts of Europe and then processed in Prato's many textile mills. The wool was first sorted by quality, then washed to remove any dirt or impurities. Next, it was carded, which involves brushing the wool fibres to align them and make them easier to spin. The carded wool was then spun into yarn using spinning wheels or later, mechanical spinning machines.

Once the yarn was produced, it was woven into a variety of fabrics, including tweed, flannel, and serge. Prato's textile industry thrived in the 19th century, thanks to advancements in technology and new production methods. Many new factories were built during this time, and the city became known for producing high-quality textiles that were exported all over the world.

In the early 20th century, the textile industry in Prato continued to grow and diversify, with companies producing a wide range of fabrics, including wool, silk, and cotton. However, the industry faced challenges in the mid-20th century, as competition from lower-cost textile producers in Asia began to increase. Many textile factories in Prato were forced to close, and the industry went through a period of decline.

Despite these challenges, wool manufacturing in Prato continued to play an important role in the city's economy. In recent years, many companies in Prato have been working to revitalize the industry and make it more sustainable. One example of this is the "Prato Model," a circular economy initiative that aims to reduce waste and promote sustainable production practices.

Under the Prato Model, textile waste is collected from local factories and sorted by type. The waste is then processed into new fibres, which can be used to create new textiles. This helps to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills and conserves resources. Additionally, many companies in Prato are investing in new technology and equipment to make their production processes more efficient and eco-friendly.

Another way that the wool manufacturing industry in Prato is becoming more sustainable is through the use of natural dyes. Many companies are turning away from synthetic dyes, which can be harmful to the environment, and instead using plant-based dyes that are biodegradable and non-toxic.

Despite the challenges that the wool manufacturing industry in Prato has faced over the years, it remains an important part of the city's history and identity. Today, many of the world's leading fashion brands rely on Prato's textile mills to produce high-quality fabrics for their clothing lines. The story of Wool manufacturing in Prato is one of care. Care for the fabric being made, care for the environment it is surrounded by and care for an industry that is steeped in Italian tradition.