To weave sustainable fabrics has always been at the heart of Alfred Brown's ethos. We take pride in the fact that our fabrics are not fast fashion, and we design them to perform. Merino wool is central to all our fabrics; we have been working with this excellent raw material for over 100years.
Merino wool is a naturally sustainable product. However, to build and maintain a truly sustainable business, we need to consider more than just the materials we use.
The following report looks at each stage of the production cycle and outlines our current practices and what we intend to do in the future.
If you require more detail or any supporting documents, please get in touch.
Non Mulsed: All our wool is certified non-mulesed, ensuring that ethical farming and good animal welfare are practised when producing the wool for our products. All our spinning partners independently audit certification.
Wool is Sustainable: Wool has fantastic natural properties which boost its sustainable credentials. A wool garment, on average, lasts much longer than other natural materials, so they are often given a second life through vintage or charity shops. 100% wool fabrics can be easily recycled into new yarns, which for example, can be re-used in knitted or tweed textiles, but the possibilities are endless. Wool has many more fantastic natural properties. Don't just take our word for it; visit (woolmark.com/about-wool/factsheets/) for more information.
91% Wool: We make a massive 91.44% of our products from 100% wool. Limiting the number of artificial fibres we use means less landfill. If wool fabrics have to be sent to a landfill, they will decompose naturally in 3-4 months!(https://www.woolmark.com/about-wool/science/wool-is-biodegradable/)
Campaign for Wool: In 2016, HRH The Prince of Wales officially endorsed the Dumfries House Declaration; this is a ten-point declaration of intent to support an environmentally responsible, sustainable, and commercially viable wool industry. The declaration is something we at Alfred Brown are passionate about promoting. See the ten points outlined in the declaration.
1. Wool is 100% natural
2. Wool is a renewable resource
3. Wool forms part of a natural carbon cycle
4. Wool is a natural alternative to wasteful consumer practices
5. Wool was made for recycling
6. Wool is biodegradable
7. Wool is naturally odour resistant
8. Wool is fire resistant and fire retardant
9. Wool improves indoor air quality
10. Wool is welfare assured
Traceable Wool: We are currently working with our suppliers and the Textile Exchange to source Responsible Wool Standard certified (RWS) wool to produce a fully traceable fabric.
RWS traceability means that customers can track the wool from sheep to garment throughout the production chain, which offers consumers peace of mind that their garment has been ethically produced at all levels.
We can only offer this on custom production runs with longer lead times, but we are working on increasing the availability. Please get in touch if you are interested.
German Efficiency: Our primary German yarn supplier (Suedwolle) launched their first “Ecoballance” brief in 2008. In this brief they have committed to evaluating and improving their impact on the world.
Since then they have been releasing an updated brief every year highlighting their commitment to sustainability. Particular points of interest include, a reduction in the water consumption at one of their dyeing plants by 65% and energy by 70%. Also the reduction in chemical consumption in one of their wool treatment plant by 65% two years in a row. It shows what you can do when you are passionate about making a change. Please visit suedwollegroup.com for more information.
Consolidated Deliveries: We organise consolidated deliveries to reduce the number of trips our suppliers take to get raw materials to us, which helps us reduce our carbon footprint.
Industry Leading Suppliers: We are meticulous about yarn standards and consistency. We have established a strong business relationship with the leading names in yarn production, meaning we benefit from the latest developments in yarn spinning. Working with expert suppliers allows us to offer exceptional quality fabrics at all price points.
Yarn Dyeing: All of our dyeing meets strict UK law and the REACH Restriction of Chemicals initiative by the EU. Most of our yarn is dyed in the UK and dyed to order so we can keep waste yarn to a minimum.
Commitment: We are committed to working with our UK suppliers to maintain and develop the industry in the UK and keeping skilled labour and expertise a part of what we do for decades to come.
100% Sustainably Woven: Since2016, we have powered our factory with electricity supplied by wind farms.
All New Machines: In 2019, we completed a multimillion-pound investment to upgrade our weaving and warping departments. We installed new machines to improve productivity and efficiency, and the old ones were re-homed.
Recycling: All of our waste wool is recycled, and all our cardboard is recycled or re-purposed.
Supporting young Designers: We have a close relationship with our local Universities and support them and up-and-coming young designers by donating our extra sample lengths.
Please check out our Instagram (@AlfredBrownLtd) to see some of the fantastic outfits they come up with!
REACH: We and all of our suppliers conform to REACH, the Restriction of Chemicals initiative by the EU. Minimal and only approved chemicals are used on our fabrics.
Local: Many of our talented staff are locals from the area, and some are even second and third generations of families working in the company. We support the next generations by offering apprenticeship schemes and guided tours through the worshipful company of weavers, aiming to inspire younger generations about the English textile manufacturing industry.
Family Owned: TheBrown family have owned and run the company since 1915. Today, fourth and fifth-generation family members run the company. The business is directed by Joint ManagingDirectors Ian and Nigel Brown and Sales Director Roger McArdle, with Ian's sons Ben and Sam in director and managerial roles.
Analyse consumables: We are now in the process of reviewing all the packaging we use. To reduce the amount we use or replace with a recycled alternative.
Finished in England: All of our fabric is finished in England by world-renowned finishers. All processing of our fabrics conforms to the strict EU/UK laws on wastewater and banned harmful chemicals.
Water, Heat and Pressure: The final finish is achieved using impressive, specially developed finishing machinery, time-old techniques, and soft Yorkshire water. We do not use harmful chemicals or additional products to create our beautiful drape and softness that Alfred Brown fabrics are renowned for.
Consolidated Deliveries: Finished rolls of fabrics are dropped off and ready for final QC, and rolls that are just woven are collected for the next stage in the process. We are reducing then umber of trips we make to our partners, reducing our carbon footprint.
Working closer: Our finishers complete our products with their expert skills. We have a strong working relationship with them that we have established over many years.Our finishers are constantly developing specialist finishes and finishing techniques to reduce water consumption and keep their finishing processes to a minimum to conserve energy.
Woolmark: We partner with Woolmark and work with them to promote the use of wool through advertising their brand and the benefits of wool on our point-of-sale promotional booklets and woven labels.
Teamwork: We have a close working relationship with our customers, and many have been working with us for many years. We adapt and develop fabrics to a customer's specific needs to ensure they get exactly what they want.
Stock Support: We offer a comprehensive stock-backed range so customers can benefit from smaller minimums allowing them to order exactly what they need for a job.
Work With Customers: We are responsible for highlighting the benefits of using wool fabrics in fashion. It is a naturally sustainable product with durable attributes.
Our fabrics are not for fast fashion, and we are proud that we make fabrics with care and respect for the environment. We want to work with our customers to help highlight these benefits to the fashion industry and end users.