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.
“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.