What are we doing to make the world a more sustainable place?

Sustainability Report 2020

Weaving fabrics that are sustainable 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 are designed to perform. At the heart of all of our fabrics is Merino wool, we have been working with this fantastic raw material for over 100 years.

Merino wool is a naturally sustainable product. However, we believe that 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.


Current Practice:
Non Mulsed: All our wool is certified non-mulsed. This ensures ethical farming and good animal welfare is practiced when producing the wool for our products. Certification is independently audited by all our spinning partners.

Wool is Sustainable: Wool has fantastic natural properties which boost it’s 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 re-cycled into new yarns, which for example can be re-used in knitted or tweed fabrics 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: A massive 91.44% of our products are made from 100% wool. Limiting the amount of man made fibers we use means less landfill.  If wool fabrics have to be sent to 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 This deceleration is something we at Alfred Brown are passionate in promoting. See alongside for the ten points outlined in the declaration.

Ten-point 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

Our Aims:
Traceable Wool: We are currently working with our suppliers and the Textile Exchange to source Responsible Wool Standard certified (RWS) wool with the aim to produce a fully traceable fabric.
RWS traceability means that customers can track the wool from sheep to garment throughout the  production chain. Offering consumers peace of mind that their garment has been ethically produced at all levels.
At the moment we can only offer this on custom production runs with longer lead times, but we are working at increasing the availability. Please get in touch if you are interested.


Current Practice:
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 to help 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 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.

Our Aims:
Commitment: We are committed to working with our UK suppliers to maintain and develop the industry in the UK. Keeping skilled labour and expertise a part of what we do for decades to come.


Current Practice:
100% Sustainably Woven: Since 2016 our factory has been powered by electricity supplied by wind farms.

All New Machines: In 2019 we completed a multimillion pound investment to upgrade our weaving and warping departments. New machines have been installed to
improve productivity and efficiency. The old machines 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 surplus sample lengths.
Please check out our Instagram (@AlfredBrownLtd) to see some of the amazing outfits they come up with!

REACH: We and all of our suppliers conform to REACH, 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. Some are even second and third generations of families to work in our mill. 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: The Brown family have been running the mill since we started in 1915. Today, the company is managed by fourth and fifth generation family members. Lead by joint Managing Directors Ian and Nigel Brown and Sales Director, Roger McArdle.​ Supported by Ian’s sons, Ben and Sam Brown.

Our Aims:
Analyse consumables: We are now in the process of reviewing all the packaging we use. With the aim of reducing the amount we use or replace with a recycled alternative.


Current Practice:
Finished in England: All of our fabric is finished in England by world renowned finishers. All processing of our fabrics conform to the strict EU/UK laws on waste water and banned harmful chemicals.

Water, Heat and Pressure: The final finish is achieved using unique, specially developed finishing machinery and time old techniques and soft Yorkshire water. This means that we do not use any nasty 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 ready for final QC and rolls that are just woven are collected for the next stage in the process. Reducing the amount of trips we make to our partners, and therefore reducing our carbon footprint.

Our Aims:
Working closer: Our finishers complete our products with their expert skills. We have a strong working relationship with them that has been built up over many years.
Our finishers are constantly developing specialist finishes and finishing techniques to reduce water consumption and keeping finishing processes to a minimum to conserve energy.


Current Practice:
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 specific need to make sure they get exactly what the 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.

Our Aims:
Work With Customers: We feel that we have a responsibility to highlight the benefits of using wool fabrics in fashion. It is a naturally sustainable product that is built to last.
Our fabrics are not for fast fashion, and we are proud that every fabric we produce is done 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.