What is merino wool?

26 June 2018

"Luxuriously soft, warm and durable, it’s no wonder merino wool is a natural choice for a garment that is often worn next to the skin."

With winter looming closer, it’s about time to incorporate an ever-reliable scarf into your ensemble, and merino wool is the right place to start. Luxuriously soft, warm and durable, it’s no wonder merino wool is a natural choice for a garment that is often worn next to the skin.

Merino wool derives from the merino sheep, a breed historically prized for its fine fleece. Introduced from Spain in the late 1700s, the merino sheep has been selectively bred in Australia to produce wool that is considered among the world’s finest.

After the wool is shorn, fastidious production techniques clean the fibres, rid them of impurities and turn them into a continuous thread. This can be spun, knitted and finally woven into a high quality, luxurious fabric.

Understanding the complex cellular structure of merino wool helps to realise the benefits of this genuinely remarkable fabric. The fibre is covered in a waxy coating that is water-repellent, yet still allows the absorption of water vapour – up to 35 percent of its own weight without feeling wet. This helps to remove sweat and also absorb odours.

Inside the merino fibre is a wave-like structure called crimp that creates great elasticity and, ultimately, superb wrinkle resistance and long-term durability. Another useful characteristic of merino wool is its  anti-static properties.

The structure also has the ability to trap or release heat, depending on the surrounding environment. The net result is that it keeps you warmer in cool conditions, but also cooler when it’s warm. Most importantly, merino wool is significantly softer next to the skin than even most natural fabrics due to its exceptionally fine fibres – considering how a scarf is often worn snugly around the neck, merino wool is our choice of fabric when choosing neckwear. Afterall, comfort first.

These attributes collectively make merino wool a superior choice to cheaper synthetic-blend scarves, which do not ‘breathe’ and therefore, will neither wick moisture away from the skin nor suppress odours. The performance credentials of merino wool scarves are exceptional but it also has to look great.  

The light textures commonly observed in the merino wool weave lends a matte finish to a scarf that pairs well with suiting fabrics containing a slight sheen, or counterpointing a silk tie. Loosely wound around the neck for warmth, or laid flat beneath a suit jacket or overcoat, the garment adds an elegant  focal point to your business ensemble. After hours, work a merino wool scarf underneath a textured sports jacket or rugged denim jacket instead.

Dyes also render exceptionally well on merino wool, resulting in a selection of scarves available in attractively vibrant or conservatively business-appropriate colours, timeless glen plaid checks or classic pinstripes. Our personal favourites are from Johnstons of Elgin, available at our Melbourne and Sydney showrooms.

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