You will probably think that burel is simply a felt, just by looking at it. But in reality it is a woven made with pure wool, and one of the most resistant fabrics in the whole world.
Burel was originally created by the highland people to protect themselves from the rain, snow and cold winds of the mountains, used to make capes, coats, vests and even pants; mainly workwear for farmers and shepherds.
With the exodus of the highland populations the burel industry also fell into low production numbers. Nowadays, it is being slowly recovered for export and rediscovered for new product designs. People are once again looking to its high performances and starting to understand its potential as an eco-fabric.
"We have this new opportunity to source it locally, to help a honest craft, rich in culture, but above all in a more harmonious relationship with the environment, in a low-impact and long-lasting fashion."
Manteigas village between Serra da Estrela's mountains, in Portugal.
Our burel comes from Serra da Estrela, the highest mountains in Portugal; specifically from the Manteigas village (click to view in Google Maps). The wool is locally gathered from Bordaleira sheep, a breed capable of growing resistant, but still soft to the touch, fibers. After being untangled, threaded and weaved, the raw fabric goes in a process in which it is boiled and pressed, inside a Pisão, getting out with a compact woof. The result is a tight, wear-resistant, natural fabric that is also water-repellent and fire retardant, without losing its flexibility.
Detail view where you can see a little zigzag, part of the woven structure.
Inside the factory, reviewing the woof to ensure uniformity.
Showing off its color and structural potential, recently and aptly discovered by portuguese architectural firms and to be used in interior design projects.
We love working with burel at Noise Goods. Its versatile nature in product creation, it is comfy and soft but also rough and rugged. It is a very good fabric to give structure to our designs (click to view our collection of handbags) while still keeping the interiors comfortable enough to use with glassy devices, like tablets, phones and such. And without resorting to additional linings, keeping the design minimal, less bulky and uncomplicated to use.
In detail, the burel used inside our indigo Folio Clutch, holding an ipad tablet.
This valuable material must not simply disappear and give way to other polluting and less resistant fabrics. We have this new opportunity to source it locally, to help a honest craft, rich in culture, but above all in a more harmonious relationship with the environment, in a low-impact and long-lasting fashion. We will definitely be using burel in the future and we always keep a few yards of it in our studio to test it out.
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