Everything You Wanted To Know About Merino Wool

Merino wool should be at the core of any early winter wardrobe. Why? Because it brings the warmth you need at a weight you won’t believe! One of our favourite things about merino wool is that it is lightweight yet cosy, which makes it ideal for headwear, sweatshirts, and knits. Wool in general is also a fairly sustainable material because it’s made up of very durable fibres. Its temperature regulating properties mean it can be worn during any season, with one 2019 study showing that ⅓ of all wool garments are worn year-round, making it a solid choice for focused capsule wardrobes. But before we dive deeper into the benefits of merino wool, we’d better explain exactly what it is!

What is merino wool? 

From cashmere to camel, there are 9 different types of wool! A member of the Keratin family, wool’s defining characteristic is that it is a warm fleece shorn from animals. Merino wool is gifted to us from the humble merino sheep - native to Spain. Merino wool was first used in the uniform of 18th century Spanish soldiers when it was looked upon as an item of luxury. 

Today merino sheep can be found all over the world, in places like Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Uruguay. Merino wool is naturally soft and has a luxe feeling, while being less expensive and more widely available than alpaca or cashmere. Its closest relative is shetland wool: a thicker, coarser type of wool from the unforgiving Shetland Islands of Scotland. As shetland wool dons the backs of hardier sheep living in colder climates, it’s more often used in coats and jackets. Merino wool, by contrast, stands out for its versatility.  

Best Features Of Merino Wool

1. Keeps you warm (and cool)

Merino wool keeps you warm on cold days and cool on hot days. We know, sounds too good to be true - but merino wool really is thermoregulating, meaning it works with the body’s heat to maintain a stable temperature. This is what makes it such a versatile fabric. 

2. Breathable

Now, to be able to regulate heat, merino wool also has to be breathable. It has the edge over thicker types of wool because wearing merino wool can feel like a breath of fresh air. 

3. Ultra soft

The first thing you’ll notice about merino wool is its beautiful texture. As Masterclass remark, 

“this superfine, shiny wool is one of the softest types of wool”. This is due to the width of its fibres, which are at the finer end of the scale, ranging from 16-24 Microns. According to woolmark, other types of wool weigh in at 25 microns or above. That gives you an idea of how light and soft merino wool really is.  

4. Moisture-wicking

That’s right, merino wool copes well with all types of moisture - from rain to sweat. This makes it fresher on the go and is one of reasons some brands use it for activewear. 

5. Antibacterial

This natural fabric has some wild characteristics. Merino wool can keep skin healthy by providing an optimal microclimate for the body. Its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties also combat odour. 

6. Natural & Renewable

From a sustainability perspective, merino wool is a useful material because it is entirely natural and is also regrown efficiently. This means that - provided it hasn’t been mixed with synthetics - your merino wool garment will be able to biodegrade. Merino wool’s renewability allows it to trump fast fashion materials like viscose and polyester. 

7. Lightweight

We’ve said it before and we’ll happily say it again: merino wool is very lightweight! This makes it easily adaptable and usable in many transitional garments like light sweaters. Ideal for layering up when you don’t know what the weather’s up to - merino wool is a fabric you’ll want in your backpack for a day spent hiking or getting lost in the wild. 

8. Itch-free

We’ll be honest, wool can be itchy. But certain types are less itchy than others, merino being one of them. All of merino wool’s best loved properties (its softness, antibacterial nature, and low weight) combine to reduce irritation and keep you feeling comfortable throughout the day.

9. Low Maintenance

Like most types of wool, merino doesn’t need to be washed often and neither does it require a large amount of care. Instead, you’ll be doing the environment and the garment a favour by simply airing it every few weeks and not washing it too often. Read more wool care tips here.

What should you watch out for? 

Make sure the merino wool you wear is mulesing-free. This is really the baseline of eco-friendly wool, as it means the sheep have not been subjected to a painful procedure that sees farmers shear the skin off their livestock’s backside, to prevent flystrike. It has been roundly condemned by environmental groups. Rest assured that we wouldn’t go near any wool connected to this cruel practice.

Best Merino Wool Styles 2022

Where better to end an overview of merino wool than with our very own set of merino wool styles for 2022? For both men and women we make a beautiful range of beanies from merino wool which come in a diverse set of colours and feature our recognisable whale icon on their fold. Our Assateague offers a more contemporary look, with its cropped size that sits above the ears. These are timeless styles you can keep forever. 

This year we’ve also produced a merino wool coat for women, the uber cool Liran. Offering simplicity and practicality, it cuts a stylish silhouette and has its own built-in belt. Our merino wool and recycled polyamide blend is also sustainable and keeps the cold snaps at bay - weighing in at 540gsm. Finally, you’ll find that we’ve crafted a few merino wool knits for the colder seasons. These include the soothing Miskitos knit in a soft blue, and the established classic: Jurmo for men. With cold weather upon us, now’s the moment to make merino wool a part of your sustainable collection.