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Men'sWeek issue 02/13/2014

The Woolmark Co. has turned to U.K. designer Timothy Everest to help get its message out for fall.

This story first appeared in the February 13, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The Australia-based wool textile organization will take a prominent location at the upcoming Liberty Fair in Las Vegas next week to showcase Hemisphere, a capsule collection of eight contemporary men’s wear styles and three women’s pieces created by Everest from merino wool. These include two looks in wool denim — a men’s one-piece suit that drew its inspiration from the boilersuits worn during the Bauhaus movement, and a three-quarter-length women’s culotte, paired with a bright yellow cowl-neck hand-knit wool sweater.

“The collaboration with Woolmark had us looking at creating a collection from wool and getting people to be a little bit surprised about what you could do with wool, and how you can actually wear it,” Everest said. “Wool is the staple of my craft but I was interested in changing the perception in the way it can be used by pushing the boundaries which has made this a fresh kind of project and one which I’ve enjoyed immensely.”

He said wool is “like the humble grape, in that depending on how you work with it, you can achieve endless results. It can be spun or woven or finished creating a vast range of textures and finishes which are all completely different to the other. I think the real challenge lay in taking some of the technical creations or concept fibers and applying them in a commercial context. I really had to stay very focused on the end brief: to show a more contemporary generation how cutting edge wool can be through a truly trans-seasonal and internationally focused casual collection. I hope that in creating a considered range, I can introduce a new generation of fashion-conscious people to the benefits of wool for everyday wear.”

Rob Langtry, global chief strategy and marketing officer for Woolmark, said the company does “extensive global research” and realized it needed to create “a better connection to younger consumers.” He said the use of wool in suits and more tailored looks is well established, “but we want to be more active in the contemporary field and show less obvious ways of using wool.”

This fall, Alexander Wang was tapped as an ambassador and was photographed by Annie Leibovitz wearing a wool hoodie and standing next to a ram for a Woolmark ad campaign. The company has also worked with Narciso Rodriguez. The collaboration with Everest marks the first time a collection will be offered for sale to retailers. “This is the first time we’ve gone with a commercial collection,” Langtry said.

He said Woolmark approached Everest because of the designer’s “strong wool knowledge” based on his “Savile Row background. He understands tailoring, but what he created in terms of silhouette, construction and finishes are different. They’re relaxed but still high-quality.”

He said collaborations such as these are necessary to “ensure a future for wool,” and Woolmark intends to continue to work with Everest, as well as with other designers. “We expect to extend the program beyond this, but Tim is our star for this year,” Langtry said.

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