Natural fibre textiles are eco-friendly, hypoallergenic, breathable and more likely to be ethically produced. Deciding to wear them is an easy choice. But all natural fibres have different uses, and Merino wool is an interesting and unique textile.
Merino sheep are tough, bred for survival in extreme temperatures. They have some of the finest, softest wool out there, and their fleece is a high-performance fibre used in everything from sportswear to socks, and even luxurious and cosy Aran sweaters.
Farmers in Australia and New Zealand have spent over two hundred years refining Merino sheep to thrive in extreme environments like New Zealand’s Southern Alps.
They’re a breed of small, hardy foragers, and because they’re adapted to very cold environments they produce a lot of wool. In fact, Merino sheep coats never stop growing. They have to be shorn at least once a year or their long, thick coats can cause serious health problems.
Merino sheep have a famously fine, soft fleece. Some types are softer than others: merino wool classes range from broad and strong to ultra-fine, which mixes beautifully with silk and cashmere fibres. Compared to synthetic fibres and even regular wool, Merino has some truly unique properties.
Considering where Merino sheep make their homes, it makes perfect sense that their wool is both UVA and UVB resistant. It keeps out harmful rays, which makes it an excellent textile for outdoor wear in summer as well as winter. It also actively manages temperature and moisture; it keeps you warm in cold conditions and vice versa, and also wicks moisture from the skin then disperses it into the air. Simply put, it keeps you comfortable and dry. As a bonus, Merino wool also resists odours.
If you’re thinking all this makes merino an excellent choice for athletic wear, you’re absolutely right. Because it’s so soft and smooth, Merino is also perfect for any garment that sits close to the skin. Finally, its thermal and water-resistant properties mean it’s become a favourite choice for Aran sweaters. It’s both hardwearing and comfortable, and you can see how soft and cosy it is in any range of Aran sweaters.
And of course, like all natural fibres, Merino wool is fully biodegradable, making it soft, cosy, and good for the environment too.