Wool is increasingly being touted as a performance fiber, and, indeed, it performs quite well as an inherently thermal-regulating, moisture-wicking, antimicrobial, insulating, water-repellent, breathable, comfortable, durable, biodegradable material. Soft, fine-micron Merino wool is used not only in fashion and corporate apparel, but also in sports and outdoor apparel, and for all seasons. Australia- and New Zealand-based Charles Parsons’ Merino State brand offers Merino and Merino-blend fabrics for all of these uses. Its newest performance and eco Merino fabrics recently were launched to the U.S. market at the 2012 Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in Salt Lake City.
Merino State’s Bi-component Performance fabrics for extreme activities offer Merino wool’s
natural moisture management combined with an engineered fiber’s enhanced wicking properties.
“Wool is always important, but there definitely seems to be a trend throughout the market to look at wool and wool-blend materials, particularly in the performance arena,” said David Parkes, president, Concept III Textiles International, Red Bank, N.J., which represents Merino State in the United States and Canada. “With the economic changes over the last three to four years, people are shopping with far more discernment, and they recognize that wool does perform. You may pay more for it, but it’s an item that’s not going out of fashion, and can be in your wardrobe for several seasons and perform well and look good.”
Parkes added that because finer-micron Merino is being produced today, much nicer products are being offered. “It looks and feels differently than the Merino of 10 years ago,” he said.
Merino State’s new collection features several blends that combine wool’s performance attributes with those of other fibers, and also includes both plated and laminated fabrics. Generally, the wool is worn next to the skin, and the different fabrics, which can be engineered to
customer specifications, are targeted to a range of end-uses.
Softshell Merino for outerwear and extreme weather applications is a Merino fleece bonded to a membrane or technical outer fabric. A blend with Tencel®, targeted to women’s fashion athletic markets, offers enhanced hand and performance. BIOPHYLL™, a blend of Merino with corn sucrose-based Bio-PDO™, is soft, resilient and easy-care. Printed Merino may be either screen-printed 100-percent Merino or sublimation-printed plated Merino/polyester fabric. Bi-component Performance blends combine Merino to remove moisture vapor before it condenses and man-made fiber to wick away excess moisture caused by extreme exertion. There also are blends with PrimaLoft® man-made insulating fiber for enhanced thermal properties; and Thermo°Cool™ hybrid thermoregulating, moisture-managing fibers.