Supporting England

Friday, June 18, 2010
If wrapping yourself in a cross of St George and drinking lager all night isn't quite your style, then why not support a great English industry? Textiles used to be big business in England, especially in the North where fortunes were made by mill owners. These days we tend to value artisanship and are wary of mass-production, but it was the technological advances in English cloth manufacture that made it succesful, and which made it some of the best in the world. The people who designed and built the new and highly specialised machinery were not permitted to emigrate lest they give away the secrets to other countries.

Today, English cloth manufacturing is a much smaller affair, as the vast majority of the work has gone abroad to China or India. Nevertheless, those mills that do remain still have some of the best machinery, knowledge and expertise in the world. As a result, they continue to turn out beautiful worsted wools that few other manufacturers can compete with.

When you next buy a suit, it's well worth giving some thought to where the wool has come from. It's easy to be taken in by a high super-number and the assurance that the cloth is 100% wool. These are all very well, but they still don't tell the whole story. You may well make a big saving by buying Chinese or Indian wool, but the quality is unlikely to be anything like as good.