There’s a lot of it about you know? Merino wool. A LOT.
10 years ago it was pretty specialist outdoors stuff. Now, everyone is at it. But, just as A Bike isn’t automatically a A Great Bike, or A Cake isn’t necessary A Tasty Cake, A Merino Top isn’t always going to be A Great Merino Top.
It’s all about the ingredients, and how you mix them. Our ingredients are better, and with our outstanding, freakish, nerdy, obsessive attention to detail, the cake (wooly cake??) we bake means we make The Best Merino Garments. I don’t just say that because I’m biased, or full of the marketing BS we’re all attuned to. I say it because I checked it, researched it, tested it, asked around, and, with our new range, we’re proving it.
“Go on then. Prove it.”
Lets just start with a Merino Wool 101. This is why we use it so much at Vulpine:
- It’s odourless because its naturally anti-bacterial. Like really. Try making it smell. Days. Weeks. The salt that builds up will make it stiff, but it won’t smell. That means you can go to your big business meeting relaxed, not paranoid.
- It’s comfortable when wet. Sweat, rain, hose attack. Merino wool is hydrophilic on the inside, so it drags water off your skin, making you more comfortable, even when you’re soaked through.
- It’s as soft as a baby rabbit’s bottom. Or, indeed, a baby merino sheep’s bottom. (Rabbits are more appealing). And as the grade of wool increases, it gets even softer…We’ll come to our grade later.
- Merino wool cools you in the heat. We sweat to lose heat, and merino is extremely efficient at pulling hot sweat off your skin. So you cool faster.
- Conversely, merino wool keeps you warmer. Heh, its wool after all! The fibres trap warm air, and merino takes water off you when its cold, yep, even when wet. Merino is a great survival fabric.
- It’s stretchy. So its great for movement…Like cycling, where the position is very different on the bike, to off it.
- It’s stain resistant. Though drinking red wine on your commute isn’t recommended…
- Machine washable. High grade merino doesn’t shrink. Just avoid heat.
- It’s natural, biodegradable and renewable. Boom.
Unlike many brands, our merino tops are pure 100% merino wool. Not blends. That means more of the above. Synthetics are much much cheaper than merino wool, with good reason. Those hardy Merino sheep don’t produce great wool just anywhere. It’s the harsh, high, grim conditions that their coats excel in to keep them warm, cool or dry, which makes it so expensive to farm.
The thinner the merino wool strands, the softer the garment. We use world leaders Merino State, and their extrafine merino wool, which is so soft you’ll smile (this actually happens with testers), tougher, and even hangs more flatteringly. That stuff is at a premium, so it’s not cheap, but the difference is clear, even just from holding it. We’ve upgraded this year, and the difference is world beating.
That fabled attention to detail is then applied to the raw fabric. It’s all very well having lovely fabric, but the fit and features need to be nailed too.
Here’s what we do:
- No Scratchy Labels. Why is it garments are ruined by a cheap viscose label sewn next to the skin? We print all the info on the inside. So simple and obvious, why don’t other brands do it? Cost.
- Flatlock Stitching. Rather than have seams that rub and chafe, we sew them flat, so they’re not irritating you. That’s why even ultra distance runners choose our T-Shirts.
- Cut. Each top is cut for comfort on and off the bike. We invested thousands of hours on fit. We spend a lot of time on the shoulders and arms, so they don’t rise annoyingly when you’re on the bars. The back is longer, so there’s no unwanted ‘exposure’. The fit is athletic, but not tight, so it’s flattering.
- Quality. It doesn’t stop with the fabric. We use brand names like YKK zips and Scotchlite reflectivity. The factories we use are high end, with specific merino wool experience.
- Those Pleasing Little Details. Those extras that we deliver, like V-stitched buttons made from natural Corozo nuts on our Polos. Or reflectivity that’s subtle, but is placed for maximum real-world effectiveness, on our Alpines. We think about every single facet.
If you find a better pure merino garment on the market than our Extrafine Merino range, contact us, we need to know, because we didn’t think you could. Seriously. There’s a reward.
I’m obviously incredibly proud of what we’ve created. I hope you enjoy wearing them as much as we have in years of testing, and for years to come. Extrafine is a fantastic investment.
It’s simple. Our Extrafine Merino Wool is machine washable. You can hand wash it, but it’s fine chucked in the washing machine, as long as…
- No heat, keep it cool.
- No conditioner (the enemy of all performance fabrics). But, if you rinse it out, you should be fine.
- No biological powder or liquid. This trips the essential oils.
- Dry flat (I use a clothes horse).