Peter Turner: Fifty years in the wool industry
Updated: Jun 1, 2018
A packed audience of Fair Trader members and guests enjoyed a fascinating talk from Peter of The James Company, who supply us with a superb range of British woollen textile products from their mill in nearby Huddersfield.
His vivid recollection of the smells of greasy wool and the noise of the carding engines on his first day at the mill as a trainee designer was accompanied by a fascinating explanation of how wool is transformed by opening, blending, spinning, weaving, scouring, milling and many other finishing processes into cloth of the highest quality. Peter has witnessed at first hand the dramatic changes in the industry since the 1960s when retailers such as Marks and Spencer, C&A, Burtons, John Collier, BHS, Littlewoods and others bought millions of garments from British manufacturers supporting many hundreds of mills in Yorkshire. The switch to low-cost sources from the Far East decimated this industry and brought redundancy to Peter on more than one occasion before he set up Calder Moor Fabrics, later to become the James Company. Here he bought redundant yarn and designed fabrics which he had made into garments and accessories locally and then sold to small independent retailers.
Thirty years on, James are one of the few remaining British textile companies and they still concentrate their designs on British Wool and fabrics including Harris Tweed and English Tweeds from specific sheep breeds such as Cumbrian Herdwicks, with others such as Swaledale, Wensleydale, Dorset and Suffolk under consideration. Some of these fabrics are still woven and made into garments within twenty miles of our Holmfirth shop, but sadly for others the skills have been lost and overseas making up is required.
These values sit well with those of Fair Trader and we are proud to stock The James designer range of ladies’ jackets, capes, coats and bags, together with jackets, caps, ties and wallets for men.