Let’s talk about wool, baby: how we use it, why we use it, and the unique versatility of this truly transeasonal fibre.
For centuries, wool of various breeds has been used to clothe, protect and adorn both people and places (remember that shaggy, terracotta-hued area rug you used to stack wooden blocks on at your gran’s house? Probably wool).
Wool rugs featured alongside an Art Deco cabinet by Pierre-Paul Montagnac
When it came to clothing a post-war era society, fashion designers often looked to wool for its versatility, blending it with other fibres to create garments of multi-purpose—clothing of both function and aesthetic pleasure—compared to those which served a pre-war lifestyle.
Naturally breathable, biodegradable, and resistant to fire and UV radiation (there’s a reason why sheep sunscreen isn’t a thing), wool has been used in service industry uniforms, farming attire, and camping and hiking garments for years, and still is today.
Australian Wool Bureau, 1953
So, just how do these fibres work to maintain our comfort and protection, and how does its use in manufacturing impact the earth?
Warm when it’s cool, cool when it’s hot
Wool fibers have the ability to absorb large amounts of moisture vapour, thereby directing moisture away from its immediate surroundings and back into the air to evaporate. Merino wool, in particular, is an active fibre, meaning it ‘breathes’ and has the ability to react to fluctuations in body temperature, helping you stay warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s hot.
Think of Merino wool as the original sweat-wicker before synthetics were brought to the masses; not only does it absorb moisture vapour (sweat) but also the odour molecules from our perspiration that are then released upon washing. Et voila! Who’d have thought the perfect year-round, globe-trotting companion would be a sheep? (We did.)