By now you've done a bit of research and know a thing or two about Merino wool. But you may still be wondering, is Merino wool worth the higher cost?
First of all - what exactly is Merino wool?
Merino wool is a natural fiber that comes from the Merino breed of sheep. This super fine wool has many benefits and is constantly in demand, mostly for high fashion and sportswear, due to its amazing technical performance benefits that occur naturally, without the use of chemicals or additives.
"Australian Merino wool is the world’s finest and softest wool in the world. Its natural benefits are so great that no other fiber - natural or man-made - can match it... - nothing else feels like Merino wool, looks like Merino wool, or wears like Merino wool." - Woolmark Corp.
Why does Merino wool cost more than clothing made from other materials?
A couple of reasons:
1. Natural fibers - as opposed to those made from oil, aka plastic (we're looking at you polyester) - cost more. Because it's sheep's fur we're talking about, it obviously takes time to grow. What's more, there are a limited number of Merino sheep in the world, with the majority living their best grazing-in-the-sunshine life in Australia and New Zealand.
Happy wool comes from happy sheep. Photo: Woolmark
2. Merino fibers are very fine, therefore, it takes about twice as much to make a garment of comparable weight using a coarser, traditional wool. Once the hairs are long enough, the thick fleece is shorn and prepared for use. Regular shearing is necessary as it helps the animal by relieving unnecessary weight, keeping them cool, maintaining hygiene and allows the natural growing process to start all over again.
"As long as there are sheep, shearing must be practiced for the health and hygiene of each individual animal." - American Society of Animal Science Board of Directors
3. In addition, caring for the animals takes great time and care. Ridge only works with Merino farmers who practice ethical, responsible and sustainable farm management. In addition, we partner with factories in the U.S. and abroad that engage in the highest form of workers' rights and safety. All of this care and quality throughout the supply chain comes at a higher price. (But really, would you want it any other way?)
What's so special about Merino?
Now... more on those super fine fibers mentioned above. Merino is soft, providing next-to-body comfort, like a second skin. The fibers breathe, to regulate your core temperature, provide warmth, wick moisture to prevent clamminess; and are naturally antimicrobial - neutralizing the bacteria that cause body odor, which make you stink. (Again, looking at you polyester...)
In addition to all the benefits listed above, Merino requires less washing and ultimately will biodegrade, breaking down naturally and returning to the soil instead of ending up in a landfill.
So yes, quality Merino wool clothing costs more. But, it's worth the investment and peace of mind knowing that you're doing good for yourself and the planet.
“It is expensive, but I really feel that merino is one of nature’s great wonder fibers – it looks good, works hard and lasts a long time.” - VeloMe
The final product: Ridge women's 100% Merino Wool Crew Neck Sweater.
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