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The Woolmark Company launches ‘Wear Wool, Not Fossil Fuel’ campaign

Tom Bottomley
05 September 2022

The Woolmark Company has today launched a new global campaign called ‘Wear Wool, Not Fossil Fuel’ to educate consumers about the hidden impact of synthetic fibres on the environment, and how choosing natural fibres such as wool can help reduce fashion’s impact.

The environmentally focused campaign features a series of powerful visual images that highlight the link between fabrics made from synthetic fibres and the crude oil used in its manufacture.

The launch centres around a 60-second hero film showing people struggling to escape an oil-filled swimming pool, based on the insight that every 25 minutes an Olympic pool’s worth of crude oil is used to produce synthetic clothing, which amounts to almost 350 million barrels per year.

The film is accompanied by visually immersive and striking anamorphic digital out-of-home (DOOH) messaging in iconic sites in London’s Piccadilly Circus and New York’s Times Square, along with a global out-of-home (OOH) campaign, a WeTransfer partnership, digital and social touchpoints, plus a microsite, providing what is described as “a one-stop-shop to understand the scientific evidence behind the benefits of choosing wool over synthetics fibres”.

John Roberts, Managing Director of The Woolmark Company, said: “It is predicted that in just ten years’ time, 73% of the entire clothing market will be made from synthetic fibres, which are derived directly from fossil fuels. The impact these clothes have during the use and end of life stages of their lifetime cannot be underestimated. In fact, it’s been said that the equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles’ worth of microfibres enter wastewater every year just from washing.

“Science shows that wool fibres biodegrade in both land and marine environments, so we know that Merino wool does not contribute to microplastic pollution. Studies also show that wool clothes are amongst the oldest in wardrobes, with high levels of reuse and donation, along with high levels of recycling and commercially viable end-of-life pathways. These factors alone indicate why choosing clothes made from natural fibres, such as Merino wool, are so important in transitioning to a circular, slow fashion model.”

The campaign film was written and produced in creative collaboration between 20something, Park Village and Studio Birthplace, whose award-winning portfolio includes recent Cannes Lions & D&AD winning work ‘Wasteminster: A Downing Street Disaster’ for Greenpeace UK.

Fran Docx, Strategy Partner at 20something, commented: “Back in 1980, our wardrobes were filled with natural materials like cotton, wool and cashmere. These natural fibres made up 60% of the market, far outstripping the relatively new polyester and polyamide alternatives. The rise of fast fashion, Instagram outfit culture and turbocharged consumerism has seen a wholesale shift in what lurks in our wardrobes.

“We rarely make a wider ecological connection between clothes, the fibres they’re made of, and the impact on the planet. Our ambition for our work with The Woolmark Company is to address that and raise awareness of the alternatives to synthetic fabrics.”

Research conducted by The Woolmark Company has shown that while more than one third of global consumers say they are willing to pay more for sustainability, fibre consideration does not feature in the purchase journey at all.

The research also highlighted that eight out of 10 people still don’t know that synthetics are derived from fossil fuels.

Additionally, synthetics currently account for 1.35% of global oil consumption, exceeding the annual oil consumption of Spain. And, at 35%, synthetics are the biggest source of microplastics in the oceans.

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