Icebreaker Merino - About the Fabric
Posted at September 30, 2015
We explore the story behind Icebreaker merino wool and explain just how this special fabric offers a unique blend of warmth, comfort and performance for outdoor sports.
Icebreaker Merino - The History
As a brand, Icebreaker are now one of the most established in the world with a presence in over fifty countries and a vast consumer base which spans across many sports markets. Perhaps best known amongst those who love outdoor activities such as hiking and running, Icebreaker is a highly reputable brand with very respectable, ethical core values of sustainability, animal welfare and supplier protection.
We introduced Icebreaker into the golf market last year and after a resoundingly successful first season, Icebreaker merino wear is back for AW15. A range of base layers, mid layers and outerwear is now available to shop - but just what makes Icebreaker products so unique?
Icebreaker Merino - The Sheep
"Merino" is a term which you will certainly have come across before, but perhaps you don't know exactly what it refers to. Merino wool actually comes from a merino sheep - one of the most ancient and toughest breeds in the world. Residing in the Southern Alps of New Zealand, merino sheep have evolved over millennia to adapt to the extremes of a climate with a temperature swing of 55ºC (-20ºC lows in winter, 35ºC highs in summer). Because of this, the merino's woollen coat is tremendously thick, super soft to touch, highly insulating yet also very breathable.
The pioneering entrepreneur who founded Icebreaker, Jeremy Moon, spotted the potential for this particular type of wool for the production of warm performance clothing. In 1994, the outdoors market was becoming overwhelmed with expensive, technical garments and so the newly founded Icebreaker brand offered something a little bit more appealing to consumers.
Icebreaker was a natural, hugely desirable alternative and in 1997, the brand implemented long-term contract policies (the longest of any merino producer) to protect their farmers and also give the brand complete control over animal welfare, environmental protection and also the wool quality itself. These policies remain in place today and have helped build consumer confidence and trust in the brand.
Icebreaker Merino - The Fabric
Why choose Icebreaker merino? Its all down to the manner in which the merino sheep have adapted to the changeable climate which actually provides the benefits as no overly technical processes have been applied to the fabric. The fibre factory is working 24 hours per day, every single day of the year - whilst it grazes on the mountainous terrain of the New Zealand Alps.
The resulting fibre is nothing like your traditional wool. Icebreaker merino is non-itch, super lightweight, highly breathable and naturally odour-resistant. It's renewable, recyclable and environmentally friendly - too. "New Zealand provides the longest, strongest, purest, whitest merino fibre on the planet," claim the brand. The better question to ask then - "why not choose Icebreaker merino?"
Icebreaker Merino - The Product
Aside from all of the 'nice' touchpoints relating to the likes of the brand's ethics, the animal welfare and environmental policies, how does an Icebreaker product actually perform for you? Well, the brand tell us that performance is considered as the the absolute key for any Icebreaker product and their level of supply control allows for consistent reliability with every garment produced. Icebreaker products leave an impression with every wearer and none more so than our style editors, who already own several Icebreaker merino garments themselves.
The range for AW15 mainly consists of performance merino base layers which offer superb warmth and comfort next to the skin without the compression feel of other golf base layers on the market. The natural odour deterrence makes these base layers quite literally wearable for a week without the need to wash for freshness. The Icebreaker aim is to design garments to feel like you're wearing nothing at all and this definitely comes across with the lightweight, unrestricting nature of the products on offer.
The designers at Icebreaker are more clever than you think, too. With a layering concept used as the basis for every product range, Icebreaker merino garments have been designed in perfect synchronisation and this even whittles down to the position of the seams - preventing them from sitting on top of each other when layered. It's this kind of attention to detail which we love about the brand; when you pair this ethos with the quality of the Icebreaker merino fabric, you really begin to understand why this product range is quite so special.
"It's possible because nature is an astonishing designer. Everything it creates is simple, efficient and beautiful."