MERINO WOOL FROM AUSTRALIA IS CONSIDERED ONE OF THE WORLD’S FINEST. LET’S SEE THIS NATURAL MATERIAL IS UNIQUE AND IDEAL FOR THE SPRING AND SUMMER SEASONS.
Wool has been one of the world’s most popular clothing fibres for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years, which explains why today there are more than a billion sheep grazing happily in more than 100 countries. There are many different breeds of sheep, and almost as many different kinds of wool, but Merino is generally considered to be the finest. Wearing clothes made from Merino wool is a good way to keep warm, of course but, as we’ll see, this extraordinary fibre ia also a natural choice for spring and summer wear.
Made of nothing but grass, water and sunlight, Merino wool is an entirely renewable resource, which may explain why there has apparently been a resurgence in demand.
Worldwide production of wool is currently 2 million tonnes per year and, while Australia providers a fifth of that total – ahead of China, Iran, Argentina, New Zealand and the United Kingdom – it still produces an astonishing 80% of the world’s Merino wool.
The development of Australian Merino is closely interwoven with the history of the country. There’s no question about the huge contribution it has made to Australia’s economic development, but some would also say that more than any other industry it has also helped to forge the national character. Unlike kangaroos and koalas, however, Merino are not indigenous to Australia. The first ones were introduced from South Africa around two hundred years ago by European settlers (although the breed actually originated in Spain).
IMPROVING ON NATURE
By then, Merino wool already enjoyed an international reputation, but selective breeding by Australian farmers rapidly improved the quality even further. Despite the country’s often harsh and in hospitable climate the breed thrived, and the soft, dense fleeces and long, fine fibres that resulted were ideal to meet the damands of the newly industrialised spinning and weaving processes, enabling the production of many lighter, softer fabrics. By the 1870, Australai led the world in both the quantity and quantity and quality of its wool production, and continues to do so today.
Australian farmer are justifiably proud of the two-hundred-year-old tradition they have inherited; of the prosperity it has generated for the country as a whole, of the communities it supports, and culture is has engendered. Despite the automation of many aspects of production, there are still over 50,000 Australian Merino farmers and many tens of thousands more people employed in the industry. Most farms – or ‘station’ as they are known – are still family owned and operated, with knowledge and skills handed down from generation to generation.
WHAT MAKES MERINO SO SPECIAL?
It all comes down to the fibres. They’re finer than normal, thicker wool fibres, so they bend more easily. And it’s this pliancy that makes Merino wool feel so silky soft and luxuriously gentle against your skin.
Merino fibres also have a natural elasticity, which means that garments made from it tend to resist creasing and retain their shape of all wool is well known, the exceptional fineness of the Merino fibre, in combination with modern fabric-making techniques, has allowed for the production of many lightweight woven and knitted fabrics that are perfect for spring and summer apparel.
For today’s discerning customer, ethical and environmentally sensitive farming can be as important as the quality of the highest standards in all these areas-well looked-after sheep living in a good environment produce the best wool, so Merino farmers are committed to exceptionally high standards of animal welfare, sustainable farming for the benefit of future generations and the responsible use of land and water resources.
CLOTHES THAT BREATHE
Merino is an extremely breathable fibre. It ‘breathes’ by absorbing moisture vapour next to the skin and then channeling it away to evaporate into the air. Merino clothes are consequently less prone to clamminess and odour. The same mild absorbency also makes it resistant to static electricity, which explains why Merino apparel always ‘drapes’ so beautifully, and why it’s less likely than synthetic fabrics to cling uncomfortably to your body. If you examined a single just sheared Merino fibre, you would see that it has a natural crimp; a tiny continuous wiggle which, in conjunction with the crimp of the fibres around it, creates minute, insulating air pockets. This is why garments made from Merino keep you cool in hot weather as well as warm in cold weather. Think of it as a natural air-conditioning system!
Wool has always been a key fibre used by Scabal, and the base of the majority of Scabal fabrics is Merino wool. No ordinary wool under the microscope, this textile fibre is much finer (12-25 microns) than traditional wool (27-33 microns). It is for this reason that this ultra-fine natural fibre never feels rough; it is so soft and silky that it can be worn even on the most sensitive of skins. The fibre, with its small diameter, also allows for the manufacture of very fine and light woolen garments, which feel like a second skin. Higher-quality wool is not treated with chlorine, but is slow washed to ensure that it remains soft on the skin and does not shrink. It was mainly with Merino wool that Scabal created its ‘Superfines’ range, fabrics that include Super 100’s and Super 250’s.