• Feb 10, 2015

Wool gets a bad rap. We’ve all had experience with those itchy, oversized furry sweaters that some (most likely older) family member got us for the holidays because they thought it would keep us warm for the winter.

The good stuff – 100% Merino Wool – is the stuff that we use at Robert Mason Company. We use this for bags and journals because this stuff is AMAZING.

Seriously. Merino Wool is something to get excited about. In fact, we got so excited about it we thought we’d give you a little history, and lots of reasons, to become a Merino Wool fan just like us.

History of Wool

Let’s start with the basics.

Using wool for clothing has been around for centuries. Our early ancestors noticed that these furry animals - they eventually called sheep - had no problem lasting through the cold winters. So just like other furry animals, they shaved them and used them for their own clothing.

From Babylonia to Roman times there’s evidence of people using particular kinds of wool over others. Throughout the years people began to breed certain sheep for superior wool, which is why it was more commonly used in the Middle Ages. During the Industrial Revolution wool became even more popular as it became easier to – well – do just about everything.

Merino Wool Makes Fashion History

Centuries ago, when they started selectively breeding sheep, Merino sheep were popular in Spain. Their fine wool was a favorite, so other countries wanted to get in on the good stuff. Australia got its first batch of Merino sheep from the Royal Merino Flocks in 1797.

Now Australia has that market on lock down.

They continued breeding the already exclusive wool to create an even thinner, finer fiber. From there fashion designers were able to use it in ways they hadn’t before.

Making Fashion History:

  • Merino was used in military uniforms and utilitarian garments, so it was rationed during both the world wars.
  • Coco Chanel created the first wool jersey after World War 1 to much success.
  • Christian Dior launches “The New Look” – made with loads of wool – by House of Christian Dior after WWII.
  • Yves Saint Laurent won two prizes in the International Wool Secretariat competition in Paris with wool dresses.
  • Karl Lagerfeld won first prize in the coat category of the same competition.

Merino Wool continues to be a fashion designers favorite. Every trend that has passed through the generations has been touched by material, from little black dresses and tailored suits to jumpers and sweaters.

Modern woolgrowers and fashion designers work together to ensure that the Merino wool you’re getting (and we’re using) is the best in the business.

Merino Wool is Awesome

So why does Robert Mason Company and other fashion designers use Merino wool? Besides the fact that wool holds dyes better than mast other natural fibers, there are a ton of benefits of using this fabric.

It’s So Comfy to Wear

Wool is graded with the fiber’s diameter. An Australian Merino fiber, which is classified as extra-fine, has to be 19.5mm or less – which means human hair is FIVE TIMES larger than Merino wool. And that is why it’s used in everything from clothing to bed sheets.

Not only is it not itchy, it won’t make your nose stuffy either. Merino wool is hypoallergenic, so while most common synthetic or down products have to deal with dust mites, wool keeps allergy and asthma sufferers (and you) happy and healthy.

Impervious to Water, Mildew, and Fire

Another bonus to using wool in fashion items is that it’s water resistant. The Merino fibers coating is a bit waxy, so most liquids just slide off. Plus, wool can absorb a ton of water (up to a third of its weight), so it doesn’t reach you. This is why our Merino Wool Collection of journals and bags are perfect to protect your stuff from the wet winters and springs.

Now since the Merino wool prevents moisture from sticking around, it means that you won’t get mildew either. Synthetic fibers attract bacteria with their smooth surfaces, but the natural wool keeps them from wanting to stick around.

Oh, and did you know that firefighters wear wool uniforms? Merino wool is actually the most fire resistant fabric of them all (naturally). Because of it’s the density of the material, the fire doesn’t get enough air and just slowly fades away…

Easy to Take Care of

Merino wool is stain resistant and machine washable. Basically, if you spill something, that waxy coating we discussed earlier protects it from colored liquids as well. While it is best to wipe the spill immediately, the fibers don’t pick up as much dry-soil.

Best way to clean wool clothing is to brush the fabric, but if it’s been through some things, you can throw it into the washing machine. Modern production makes the fiber more durable to make it through the spin cycle.

Eco-friendly and Sustainable

While most farms that keep large amounts of animals aren’t always best for the environment, sheep rarely cause any excess damage to their surrounding ecosystems. Plus the sheep are being used for fleece, which grows back, instead of meat, which hurts the animal.

Most of the farms are family-owned so they have generations of families working on them. It’s made the Australian Merino wool workforce one of the most advanced and efficient in the industry. In fact, most Australian Merino wool is organic without any, or very little, chemicals added.

Plus, Merino wool lasts forever. This means that with our timeless designs, and this quality material, you can pass your Robert Mason piece from one generation to the next.