Finisterre, the cult outdoor clothing company, has just scooped the highly coveted RSPCA Good Business Award for helping to save the British Bowmont – one of the rarest breeds of sheep in the world – from extinction.
The team at Finisterre recently travelled all the way up from their HQ on a Cornish cliff top to Savile Row where 30 of the Bowmont flock were playing a key role in the Campaign For Wool Week, endorsed by Prince Charles. The aim of the event was to highlight new opportunities which exist in the British wool market, which has, until now, been in deep decline. The whole street was covered in turf, allowing the sheep to graze, and the Bowmonts were the stars of the show.
Bowmonts are not only extremely rare, they are also the only British breed which produces wool which compares favourably to the finest Merino wool. If only there were more of it, Bowmont wool could be used to make warm and unbelievably soft, breathable and cosy garments for everyone from skiers and surfers to cyclists and triathletes.
Finisterre has been supporting Lesley Prior, a farmer in Devon, and her Bowmont flock for three years. When they first heard about the rare breed, there were only 30 sheep in Lesley’s flock, today there are more than 80, and next year Finisterre will be making the very first products made from the highly prized wool.
Up until now, Finisterre has little choice but to import Merino wool all the way from Australia – which is something that the environmentally friendly brand is keen to avoid. ‘To make the best and most comfortable outdoor kit we need very fine wool,‘ explains Finisterre’s founder, Tom Kay, ‘and up until now no British sheep have produced anything that can compete with Merino wool. Three years ago we heard about the Bowmont and we’ve been working with Lesley ever since to help her build the numbers up. Next year there will be enough wool for us to use which is extremely exciting. Having a home grown alternative to Merino would be awesome!’
At 17.5 microns thick, Bowmont wool is extraordinarily fine – finer even than most Merino and yet it is also surprisingly strong. In fact, many competitors in the World Spinning Championships, who compete to spin the longest possible piece of yarn, approach Lesley and plead with her to let them have some of her precious wool.‘The Bowmonts will allow us to minimise the impact our products make on the environment as well as supporting British industry,’ says Kay.
For more info, visit www.finisterreuk.com.