Recent innovations in knitting technology have resulted in an increase on the use of knits for shoe uppers. The success of wool in footwear lies not only in the fibre’s natural properties, but also in its ability to be constructed in a way that aids performance.
Using the latest fully-fashioned knitting technology, wool footwear can be knitted to its final shape, reducing the amount of wastage associated with regular cut-and-sew techniques.
In contrast to synthetics, Merino wool can absorb large amounts of moisture vapour which means less sweat on your foot. Merino wool even absorbs and locks away the odour molecules from sweat, which are only released upon washing.
Innovative design and manufacture enhance wool’s natural breathability, allowing for seamless design for the entire shoe, including a breathable sole, keeping your foot dry and comfortable.
How it works
Wool Knitted Upper
Merino wool yarns using core-spun and wrap-spun technologies are strong and easy to knit, rivalling the commonly used synthetic counterparts.
Flatbed knit shoe upper
14gg Stoll ADF Knitting technology enables plating effects at the single needle level which can create the Ikat look.
The new knitting technology is ideal for shoe uppers because it allows the possibility of three layers of stitches to be created.
- The inner section uses a 100% Merino wool yarn to enhance next-to-skin wearing comfort.
- The middle layer is made from a fusible yarn to heat-fix the 3D shape of the upper.
- The outer-layer uses a wool/polyamide Sirofil type yarn for improved abrasion resistance and a wide range of texture effects.
Circular knit cut and sew shoe upper
This technology uses traditional circular knitting with an inlay attachment to enable a yarn comprising wool, two types of polyester - one of which has enhanced thermal attributes - and polypropylene to be knitted in a wide range of pattern types. The wool is allowed to felt during finishing to create texture and the thermal polyester maintains bulk to ensure lightness.
Contact the Woolmark Technical Team for more information.
Woolmark partners using wool knitted shoe uppers
Launching wool for the first time across popular Primus Knit and Magna Trail styles, Vivobarefoot is using Merino wool as part of its new eco-material strategy to only use natural, recycled and bio materials for all new products. The shoe upper, knitted by advanced 3D knitting technology uses Merino wool to create the inner layer to add breathability, odour resistance, comfort and warmth performance benefits.
Athletic Propulsion Labs®
US brand Athletic Propulsion Labs® (APL) used Merino wool to launch its most sustainable and lightest running shoe to date partnering with The Woolmark Company to release the APL TechLoom Breeze Merino Wool collection. Each shoe features 80% Australian Merino wool, innovatively knitted with APL’s patented, stretch-rebound TechLoom upper. This unique combination delivers greater elasticity, strengthens the shoe and allows it to naturally hug the foot for maximum support, especially during performance and sports lifestyle activities.
"Australian Merino wool is a naturally sustainable super-fibre that helps protect against odour, is incredibly strong, yet is light enough to be worn during all of your workouts and has beautiful hand feel and texture."
- APL co-founder Adam Goldston
The wool running shoe - available online for men and women - utilises the latest fully-fashioned knitting technology, meaning the shoe is knitted to its final shape, reducing the amount of wastage associated with regular cut-and-sew techniques. This innovative design also enhances wool's natural breathability, as the technology allows for seamless design features such as breathable panels.
Angel Chen, Nicholas Daley and Colovos
At the 2019 International Woolmark Prize final, Angel Chen, Nicholas Daley and womenswear winner Colovos all included wool footwear in their final submissions. Chen created a knitted shoe made with 87% Ultrafine Australian Merino wool upper, allowing for the shoe to breathe, retain a lightness, warmth and anti-bacterial effect. Daley collaborated with Northampton Tricker’s Shoemakers on an exclusive style incorporating Hainsworth Merino wool fabric with a water repellent coating and calf leather outer. Colovos partnered with Reebok to create a sneaker with inserts from washable and traceable 100% Merino wool.