A fibre from the land, produced by the simple mix of fresh air, sunshine, grass and water, Australian wool is lovingly cultivated by generations of Australian wool growers, who nurture every step of the growing process to deliver one of the earth’s finest and most precious fibres.
Australian Merino wool is an entirely natural fibre grown year-round. Grazing on extensive grassland terrain, Merino sheep in Australia are free-range animals that live a largely carefree existence. From the high rainfall areas of the eastern seaboard to the drier pastoral areas of the west, Merino sheep have become an integral part of the iconic Australian landscape.
A wool fibre is composed of a natural protein called keratin that is biodegradable, similar to the protein found in human hair. When disposed of, Merino wool decomposes in soil in a matter of years, slowly releasing valuable nitrogen-based nutrients back into the earth, acting like a fertiliser. In contrast, synthetic fibres can be extremely slow to degrade.
And Merino wool is a completely renewable fibre; Australian Merino sheep produce a new fleece every year. In addition, Australian Merino farmers work tirelessly to conserve the pastures on which their Merino sheep graze, protecting and preserving the natural resources for future generations while maintaining the efficiency of their land.
Wool is grown year-round by Australia’s 71 million sheep, consuming a simple blend of water, air, sunshine and grass.
When a wool fibre is disposed of, it will naturally decompose in soil in a matter of years, slowly releasing valuable nutrients back into the earth.
Every year Australian sheep produce a new fleece, making wool a completely renewable fibre.
Merino wool fibres are extremely fine, enabling them to bend far more than traditional, coarser wool fibres. This makes Merino wool feel soft and luxuriously gentle next to your skin.
Natural elasticity helps Merino wool garments stretch with you, yet return to their original shape. So Merino wool clothing is ideal to wear when exercising.
Merino wool fibres can absorb large quantities of moisture vapour then move it away to evaporate into the air. So Merino wool clothing is extremely breathable and less prone to clamminess.
In contrast to synthetics, Merino wool is an active fibre that reacts to changes in body temperature. So it helps you stay warm when the weather is cold, and cool when the weather is hot.
Because Merino wool can absorb moisture vapour, it tends not to create static electricity, helping it to drape beautifully and be less likely to cling uncomfortably to your body than other fabrics.
Recent innovations mean many Merino wool garments can now be machine-washed and tumble dried, providing a simple solution to the common question of ‘How to wash wool?’
Merino wool fibres have a natural protective outer layer that helps prevent stains from being absorbed. And because Merino wool tends not to generate static, it attracts less dust and lint.
At microscopic level, each Merino wool fibre is like a coiled spring that returns to its natural shape after being bent. This gives Merino wool garments a natural resistance to wrinkles.
In contrast to synthetics, Merino wool can absorb moisture vapour which means less sweat on your body. Merino wool even absorbs the odour molecules from sweat, which are only released upon washing.
Wool’s inherent chemical structure makes wool naturally flame resistant. It is a highly trusted natural fibre in public areas such as hotels, aircraft, hospitals and theatres. Wool is harder to ignite than many common textile fibres. Whilst cotton catches alight at 255°C, the temperature must reach 570-600°C before wool will ignite; while polyester melts at 252-292°C and nylon succumbs at an even lower 160-260°C, wool never melts so it can’t stick to the skin like many common synthetics.
Merino wool clothing provides good protection from the sun, compared with the protection from other fibres. As a natural fibre, evolved over millions of years to protect sheep against the elements, Merino wool absorbs UV radiation providing protection from the sun. This makes it a good choice for a wide range of outdoor activities.
Merino wool fabrics benefit from what designers call excellent handle and drape. To the wearer this means clothes that effortlessly, elegantly and beautifully follow the form of the body.
When Merino wool clothing is dyed it is colourfast; and newly developed colouring techniques give designers full scope for their creativity.
Merino wool fabrics are lively and flexible, coming in a wide choice of textures, weaves and weights. It can be woven or knitted and worn in every season.
Merino wool is a delight to tailor. It cuts cleanly, doesn’t fray and isn’t marked by pins. It also responds instantly to ironing and won’t crush with handling.
Merino wool fabric can be permanently set by the use of temperature and moisture, giving designers the freedom to create a wide range of shapes and styles.
Fashion designers can choose from a range of innovative treatments that allow them to create unique textures and finishes on Merino wool garments.
There is pre-existing research which shows that wool, as a fibre, has a great story to tell. In addition, there is also active research under way promoting the health and wellbeing benefits of wool, strengthening the fibre’s environmental credentials.
Science is showing that – as well as being a natural, renewable and biodegradable fibre – wool bedding and sleepwear appear to promote a better night’s sleep, and fine wool knitwear can assist people that suffer from particular types of skin conditions.
Consistent with earlier science findings, the early results from a study undertaken by the University of Sydney, Australia, are showing that wool sleeping apparel and bedding increases total sleep time, promotes sleep onset and improves sleep efficiency.
In hot (29° Celsius) conditions, wearing wool sleepwear saw participants in the study sleep significantly longer, reflecting faster sleep onset and waking up less frequently. In both cold (17° Celsius) and neutral (22° Celsius) conditions, the combination of wool sleepwear and bedding saw participants have a more efficient sleep compared to when tested using non-wool sleepwear and bedding.
Learn more about the sleep benefits of wool.
Science is also showing that Merino wool assists those suffering from chronic skin conditions, and challenges misconceptions that wool is ‘prickly’ and ‘itchy’.
A dedicated research team at the Queensland Institute of Dermatology (QID) in Australia has been exploring the role that superfine Merino wool knitwear has in the treatment of chronic dermatitis conditions.
A pilot study undertaken in 2012 by the QID team has shown that wearing suitably specified fine Merino wool products will not irritate the skin’s surface, but in fact benefit those suffering from skin conditions, such as atopic dermatitis.
Merino wool has moisture and temperature management properties, and naturally assists regulation of body temperature. The inherent breathability and active moisture management properties of the fibre also help prevent the skin from becoming clammy, which can provide a more comfortable environment.
By building the scientific credentials of wool, The Woolmark Company is assisting manufacturers and retailers of wool products to show their customers that wool should be considered as a logical part of a lifestyle of health and sustainability.
Discover more about healthy skin and wool.