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WWW - THE WEIRD WORLD OF WAXED COTTON

Posted by Gary Newbold on 30th Nov 2017

WWW - THE WEIRD WORLD OF WAXED COTTON

The dark arts of waxed cotton begins with the transformation of a cotton fabric when the wax is applied. When you send your jacket for a rewax it's an entirely different process to how the fabric is waxed in the first instance. Your jacket is literally 'sponged' from a tub of hot wax. However, when the fabric is originally 'finished' at the mill, what looks like a cattle trough (well the ones I've seen) drips wax onto the fabric as it passes under the trough from roller to roller.

Now I'm a fashion designer, not a fabric producer. I've been designing these things for years, quite a few of them with my old employer Barbour, however my description above is too basic for what really happens in the magical process of turning cotton into waxed cotton. Were it to be as easy as that, there would be more than just a handful of people in the world that could make it. The true pro's at this are just as obsessive to get the right finish as would any vintner swirling his glass with glee at a perfected Pinot Noir.

One such alchemist started out life as a chemical engineer before he began to meddle with this deeply unpredictable and tough to regulate fabric. Jimmy the waxmeister Campbell. the CEO of Halley Stevenson's - One of the two main players in the market for making this fabric. He was either destined to make either the perfect Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon or what he does make. Brilliant Waxed Cotton fabric. He does this in Dundee Scotland. OK, it's not California weather but the weather in Dundee and Scotland means it is no wonder that this area became famous for making this fabric for more than 150 years. I wouldn't want to sample a Napa Valley waxed cotton any more than I would a Dundee Cab Sav.

I like people like Jimmy. It's more than a job to him. English Utopia like Halley Stevenson's and their passion. Next time you buy a waxed jacket, do you want table wine or chateau bottled?