A Yorkshire fashion company that creates clothes from the wool of rescued sheep was rewarded at the RSPCA Good Business Awards in London last night.
Izzy Lane, an ethical knitwear label that was only founded 18 months ago, was named small fashion retailer of the year in a ceremony at the Natural History Museum.
The company's founder, Isobel Lane, said she was "absolutely delighted" to win, and for the opportunity to "give a voice to farm animals".
"Lots of people are quite conscious of where their food is coming from now, but not many know where their wool is from", she said.
Izzy Lane rescues Wensleydale and Shetland sheep that would otherwise be sent to slaughter, and uses their wool to create high-end clothes and accessories. Around 600 sheep have been rescued since the brand's inception.
"They're very sweet", Lane said. "This award is for them, really."
A British company using British wool in its garments is a relative rarity in today's fashion industry. Fleece prices are so low that they often don't cover the cost of shearing.
"Around 80% of the wool we use in this country is imported from Australia and New Zealand", Lane explained. "It's ridiculous - there has to be a back to Britain campaign."
The Izzy Lane autumn/winter '08 collection The Izzy Lane autumn/winter '08 collection. Photograph: Isobel Lane
The company supports Britain's dwindling textile industry, employing one of the last remaining worsted spinners and one of the last dyers in the Bradford area. The cloth is woven at a mill in Selkirk using traditional machinery. From woolly coat to coat hanger, everything is made within a 120-mile radius.
Izzy Lane was highly praised by a panel of judges for combining a passion for fashion with a commitment to good animal husbandry and sustainability.
Wayne Hemingway, co-founder of Red or Dead, said: "Izzy Lane shows how a passion for animals can equal a truly luxurious and cutting edge fashion label."
Marks & Spencer was awarded the large fashion retailer prize for setting higher standards on the high street, while Natural Collection, the online store, was recognized for its 'commitment to change'.
The Good Business Awards were set up by the RSPCA four years ago to encourage companies to adopt animal welfare-friendly policies.