Fox Brothers for British Textile Week
Fox Brothers has produced woollen and worsted fabric in Wellington, Somerset for nearly 250 years and is officially credited as the original creators of flannel.
Fox Brothers & Co – visual board by UKFT
Woven without compromise
The Fox Brothers range consists of a wide variety of woven cloths; from lightweight worsteds, starting at 180 grams; to the classic West of England flannel at 400 grams; to heavy woollen coatings, weighing around 1000 grams. The company’s range of flannels has developed over the last two centuries and now includes woollen flannels in rich mélange shades, as well as sophisticated lighter weight worsted flannels. These flannels are produced from the finest wool, woven and milled into cloth with a fabulous fluid hand-feel. Around the globe the quintessential Fox Brothers’ flannels are tailored into superb garments for the discerning wearer.
The collection of coating fabrics has its roots in the Fox Brothers’ Archives and as it has developed, covers all manner of wool and worsted coatings. For town, there is the classic milled woollen overcoat, soft to touch and the black worsted herringbone cloth, both woven from fine British spun yarns. Additionally, originally developed for country sports the thorn-proof cloth, today made up into the Covert coat. For country, there are the British Warm, wonderfully warm with natural water resistance and the strongly defined Keeper’s tweeds.
The range of worsted cloths is persistently growing, from super lightweight plain-tabby weaves for suits, including traditional serge and hopsack blazers from midnight to bright blue; classic twills and basket-weaves for jackets in a range of sophisticated coloured checks, plaids and stripes. This selection includes all styles, from formal wear cloth to casual unlined patch-pocket jacketing.
Cloth is woven at Fox Brothers with the utmost care. The step by step process to create these award-winning fabrics involves many skilled craftsmen and craftswomen.
Yarn is carefully sourced mainly from UK spinners. At each stage of the process quality is paramount. From British kempy wools to the high quality superfine merino wool to delicate worsteds; all are carefully sourced for the wide variety of fabrics woven at Fox.
Once the yarn is selected, the set of the cloth is carefully constructed. First the yarn is wound onto cones for the desired piece length. In turn these cones make the warp which at times can consist of over 5000 ends. These ends are ordered in the chosen pattern.
From here the warp is then threaded through headles by hand. The headles are held on shafts to create a specific weave, most commonly used is the prunelle and twill, which make our finest flannels. By hand the warp is then threaded through a fine comb called a reed: this sets the warp. The warp is now ready to be placed in the loom and weaving can commence. With the warp reaching from the back of the loom to the front, the weft travels across it as the shafts are lifted in a predetermined rhythm. Continually throughout this process the yarn and cloth is checked and reviewed to sustain the quality expected from these Fox Brothers’ cloths.
Once woven, the cloth on its beam is moved to the inspection area to be measured and darned.
The second step of magic starts in finishing. Each woven ‘greasy’ cloth is finished to a unique formula which starts with scouring, where lanolin found in the yarn is removed. Our flannels are then milled for hours to break the fibres and bring out the softness in each individual thread.
A plethora of carefully timed processes highlights, massages and presses the cloth into the final finished stages, before it can be made into fine garments by the top tailors and manufacturers around the world.
UKFT’s British Textile Week is a digital showcase of the craftsmanship, imagination and innovation of the UK textile industry.