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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Merino Wool for Performance Apparel

Merino wool is commonly utilized for manufacturing high-end performance athletic wear and outdoor gear to keep the wearer warm.  Typically meant for use in running, hiking, skiing, mountain climbing, cycling, hunting and in other types of outdoor aerobic exercise, the merino wool clothes and accessories command a premium price over synthetic fabrics.  Although this type of wool fiber is more costly, it’s warm and soft hand generally makes it worth the price.

The Merino is an economically influential breed of sheep prized for its wool. Merinos are regarded as having some of the finest and softest wool of any sheep.  Poll Merinos have no horns (or very small stubs, known as scurs), and horned Merino rams have long, spiral horns which grow close to the head.  Both versions of the breed provide fine wool that can be used for clothing & fashion accessories.

Merino is bred predominantly for its wool.  Learn more about Merino wool in our textile definitions section.

Several properties contribute to merino's popularity for exercise clothing, compared to wool in general and to other types of fabric:

Merino is excellent at regulating body temperature, especially when worn against the skin.

The wool provides some warmth, without overheating the wearer.

It draws moisture (sweat) away from the skin, a phenomenon known as wicking, which results in helping the wearer stay comfortable whether it be in warm or cold conditions.

The fabric is slightly moisture repellent (keratin fibers are hydrophobic at one end and hydrophilic at the other), allowing the user to avoid the feeling of wetness.
Like cotton, wool absorbs water (up to 1/3 its weight), but, unlike cotton, wool retains warmth when wet, thus helping wearers avoid hypothermia after sweating from strenuous exercise or getting rained on when outside.

Like most wools, merino contains lanolin, which has antibacterial properties, resulting in reduced human body odor. It is not uncommon for users to wear a garment for multiple days in a row.

Merino is one of the softest types of wool available, because of finer fibers and smaller scales.

Merino has an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio compared to other wools, in part because the smaller fibers have microscopic cortices of dead air, trapping body heat similarly to the way a sleeping bag warms its occupant.

Do you know what fashion designer Christopher Raeburn has planned for is AW16 collection?  Christopher Raeburn merino wool womenswear collection is coming.

Learn more about sheep and wool in our research.

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