Australian Merino wool is a natural fibre that comes from Merino sheep, which are distinctively suited to Australia’s landscape and climate. The wellbeing of these Merino sheep is reflected in their premium fleeces, showing the tireless work of woolgrowers to maintain the health and welfare of their animals, as well as preserve the land on which their sheep graze.
Across the country close to 71 million sheep roam freely in grasslands, where around three quarters of this flock are Australian Merinos. Each year sheep naturally produce a new fleece, and it’s for this reason that wool is an inherently renewable fibre. Australian Merino wool is perfect for apparel because these premium fibres are extremely fine. Wool fibres are composed of a natural protein called keratin, similar to that of human hair though are around three times finer. This means that fabrics made from Merino wool feel soft, comfortable and luxurious. Merino wool is also elastic and strong due to the structure of the fibre, giving wool the upper hand for both drape and tailoring.
Wool fibres are breathable and react to the body’s changing temperature. You only need to think for a moment about the climate in which Merino sheep live to understand that Australian Merino wool naturally adapts to both the heat and the cold. When a Merino wool garment has reached the end of this wear, it can be added to organic compost, as wool fibres are completely biodegradable. Wool rapidly decomposes in soil and even acts like a natural fertiliser in the process by releasing nitrogen-rich nutrients back into the earth.
The history of Merino wool
Wool has been used in clothing for millennia: from primitive man first clothing himself in the woolly skins of wild sheep - through the civilisation of Babylonia where people first distinguished wool sheep from food sheep - through Roman times when there were definite signs of selective breeding for a superior fleece - and through to the ascendancy of wool during the Middle Ages in Europe. By the late eighteenth century, the Industrial Revolution began a movement which took the textile industry from the home into the workshop and factory.
The Woolmark Company has created a suite of fact sheets, explaining the science behind wool's naturally inherent benefits along with the fibre's impact on the environment.