From its initiation in 2015 to the end in 2019, KRUS had two goals: to improve the market for and the value of Norwegian wool, and survey the opportunities for local production in a move towards a goal of sustainability in the fashion sector. On a larger scale, KRUS has looked at how we can reestablish an understanding of the connection between the raw material and the finished product within the textile industry and among consumers. It is critical to understand this connection, both to ensure quality products and to reach the market potential for Norwegian wool. To reestablish the understanding of where clothes come from, is also at the heart of the challenges that the textile industry is currently facing. The project has made use of knowledge from the shift towards local food appreciation, which points towards a change in the understanding of raw materials, quality and origin.
The project has built on research from the NRC project Valuing Norwegian Wool (VNW) and the KreaNord Project VikingGold. It has specifically looked into some of the problems in the value chain that the VNW-project uncovered related to lack of cooperation, product-development, transparency and labelling, as well as working with the older sheep breeds, with links back to Viking times, which was VikingGolds aim. These challenges are addressed through combining research with development work on several levels within the value chain. The combination of new knowledge, dissemination, and product-development has ensured a dynamic project with a diverse set of out-comes and impacts.
The consumption and production of textiles faces major challenges and changes in the future. Today the industry is characterized by low control and little knowledge, while growth in quantity, environmental impact, as well as stress on animals and humans is high. KRUS has contributed to the debate on sustainable clothing by focusing on local value-chains and locally produced apparel. This has been done by writing many opinion editorials and giving lectures related to these themes, as well as publishing several books and arranging a major conference (Warm Threads). The focus on Norwegian wool and the specific qualities of the different breeds has played an essential role for Norwegian textile tradition and dress culture, and a better understanding of this has been essential to the project.
An important challenge for Norwegian wool is that it has not been marketed with any kind of label of origin. Private actors have thus entered the field and developed their own private labels for Norwegian wool. In addition, there are few products on the market containing Norwegian wool beyond hand-knitting yarn, which means that availability has been limited. Throughout the project, we have seen a shift, especially for older sheep breeds, which have posed a special challenge all along. Their wool is central in keeping Norwegian handcrafts alive, but the quality on some of the wool types has been declining. For others, the challenge is that much of the wool is not taken care of, and constitutes a waste problem. This problem further increased when some of the pigmented grades lost their subsidies a year into the project. Through breeding-projects, work collaboration, looking closely at labeling systems and business models, KRUS has addressed these challenges.
We will, in this report, describe how we reached the project-goals, give a reflection of these goals, and describe potential for further R&D and impact from the project. However, results tend to ?take on their own life?, and for our part it is not necessarily we who will take this to the next level. We have very much enjoyed every aspect of this project, and will not hesitate to engage in the wool sector if there are future projects where our now substantial know-how can be of use.
KRUS has contributed with knowledge on several areas. The debate surrounding clothes and the environment is growing. KRUS helps with focus on local and slow, value and lasting products in a debate that otherwise is characterized by a belief that reuse and recycling is the most important factor. The interest in reindustrializing is increasing. KRUS helps to high-light that this is possible within textiles, and with local products. Interest in knitting is also increasing; here KRUS contributes to an understanding of the phenomenon as a critique and an alternative to the global mass consumption.
Impact is difficult to measure. In research, we are traditionally measured by deliveries. This can be shown through activities where impact is the goal, like editorials (40), lectures (142). The number of people we have reached through instructional films and uptake of simple equipment to measure wool quality on the farm, or social media engagement, to mention some examples. However, these figures do not show the impact of these measures, just their magnitude.
If we are to look at the actual impact we must see what has been achieved. Demand for and valuation of Norwegian wool has grown. The debate surrounding the environment has changed and local production of clothing and textiles has been established as an alternative to the global fashion system. KRUS has thus overfulfilled the initially ambitious goals, although there are still unresolved issues and new challenges. The question we then have to ask ourselves is whether this would have happened without KRUS?
Enhancing local wool value-chains in Norway
Norwegian wool is known for its exceptional crimp, and thereby also its resilience and strength. The project Krus aims to augment the qualities in Norwegian wool both through enhancing the focus on quality in the value-chain along with increased knowledge and better marketing. This is an interdisciplinary project covering the entire value-chain from sheep to shop. The value-chain for wool in Norway will be compared to similar value-chains in some chosen North Atlantic countries and with the development that has been for food.
The consumption and production of textiles faces major challenges and changes in the future. Today the industry is characterized by low control and little knowledge, while growth in quantity, environmental impact, as well as stress on animals and humans is high. Krus wishes to contribute to the debate on sustainable clothing by focusing on local value-chains and locally produced apparel. Norwegian wool and the specific qualities of the different breeds plays an essential role for Norwegian textile tradition and dress culture. A goal of lasting and beautiful clothing and textiles can go through increased understanding of where clothes come from and the raw materials impact on the finished textiles.
An important challenge for Norwegian wool is that it is not marketed with any kind of label of origin. This, together with the fact that there are few products on the market means that availability is very poor. A particular challenge is for the older breeds. Their wool is central for keeping Norwegian handcrafts alive, but the quality of some of the wool types is going down. For others, the challenge is that much of the wool is not taken care of but rather constitute a waste problem. Through breeding-projects, work collaboration, labeling systems and business models, Krus seeks to address these challenges.