The clothing industry has come a long way since the days our ancestors sat around a fire, chewing the (literal) fat. But, there’s a clear line through time, linking today’s tailored fashionistas with yesteryears neanderthal… What is it?
To this day, despite all of the human race’s advancements and achievements, we have yet to find a sustainable, environmentally friendly material that protects, cools and moulds around us like wool.
Having evolved to protect sheep in poor, wild and wet Atlantic-like conditions, wool possesses a particular set of properties that make it unrivalled when compared to manufactured materials.
*A wool tweed sports coat, blue with an orange, brown check and ‘tri-colour’ buttonhole
At it’s most basic, wool is a protein, keratin to be precise (the same protein found in horns, hooves and nails). Like many proteins, oils and fats, it’s naturally water repellent.
As the rain builds, so does the fibres natural benefits. Wool is hydroscopic (more so than any other fibre). This means that it can retain up to 20% of it’s weight in water before feeling (or before the wearer feeling) wet.
This is almost double the retention of similar fabrics, such as cotton or linen. For instance, that ‘soaked in a downpour’ dripping wet, cotton tee-shirt feeling does not happen with wool. It physically, can’t allow it.
In cold weather, another important property of the fabric emerges – the ‘crimp’ of wool’s fibres assist in retaining the heat leaving the body of the wearer.
This trapped, still air, acts as an insulator. Similar to when the hairs stand up on your arm in an effort to retain body heat, wool does this naturally.
Ironically, wool is also an excellent option for summer wear too.
In the right weave and weight (hopsack for example) it’s wicking properties mean moisture is wicked away from shirts and skin, to be absorbed by the fabric, leaving the wearer feeling fresh and cool. To round out the science of it, wool fibres can bend back on themselves 20’000 times without breaking (compared to 3’000 times for cotton).
It’s this durability / elasticity that makes it prized by tailors and manufacturers alike. It’s mailability is excellent for shaping and fitting garments.
And those garments – what makes them so special from a tailoring perspective?
Wool lends itself to the dying process very well, meaning it gives rich, vibrant colours a distinct depth.
In it’s manufacturing, it can woven as ‘woolens’ (tweeds and flannels), ‘worsted’ (most suits) or knitted (most jumpers) making it highly versatile.
From a sustainability perspective, it’s biodegradable, returning it’s proteins and minerals back to the grass from which it came. It’s also renewable, as sheep require shearing annually.
And while a wool suit is more expensive than a synthetic fibre one in polyester, it should be considered a marvelous investment piece.
It wears better and will last longer. It is better made and will feel more comfortable.
*Summer tailoring – a wool hopsack blue blazer, loosely woven to maximise airflow (note the texture) with coffee buttons,‘Connacht green’ button holes and tropical (light) wool pants (with side adjustors)
It’s got natural thermoregulating properties and, more spring in it’s step. Better yet, it’s produced via the land, not the lab.
Much like the suits our grandfathers wore, when looked after correctly, a well made wool suit will last you years. Buy cheap, buy twice as they say.
Sustainable and ethical, hydroscopic and breathable. Water repellent and thermally efficient. Durable and, above all, it looks great – these are the reasons we have yet to find a better solution to ‘sheep’s clothing’. Particularly when it comes to a base fabric for high quality tailoring.
This is why we’re ‘Wolf in Wool’ and not ‘Pups in Poly’ or ‘Cubs in Cotton’.
Wool is an unrivalled material which we cut for you, for a a suit designed by you, at Ireland’s premier and digitally unrivalled, made-to-measure tailoring company.
To see more of our wool garments, check us out on instragram (@wolfinwool_) or, design your own via our Suit Designer at awolfinwool.com.
As always, thanks for reading.
We’ll speak again soon
#dontbeasheep #beawolf #wearwolf
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