What animal is a “Merino”?? What’s a “120’s”?? Answers to these questions and more!
Wool is truly a miracle fiber – durable, breathable, insulating, even water repellent. It takes to dying beautifully, wrinkles fall out with a puff of steam (or the shower), and is the staple for mens tailored goods.
But what about wool do you need to know? The quality of wool is determined by the fiber diameter and length. The finer the diameter, measured in microns, and the longer the staple the silkier the finished garment will be. Merino wool is typically 3–5 inches in length and is very fine (between 12 and 24 microns) “Wool is a general term describing the spun fibers from the hair of any number of mammals.” (GQ)
Premium wools most widely used come from sheep, in two varieties; Lambswool which is the first shearing of a sheep about 7 months old, and merino wool from Merino sheep from the mountains of Australia and New Zealand. You may have seen a numeric value attached to woolen suiting, such as Super 100’s, 110’s 120’s or 140’s or more.
The higher the “super” number, the higher the grade of fabric. Higher grade fabric is finer and lighter.
Most wools sold as tailored menswear sold are from the 80’s to 120’s. 140’s and above are more rare and prized, as fewer sheep produce wool of this quality. But is finer, more expensive wool always better? It certainly will feel better against your skin, (this is called the “hand”) but performance adds a big consideration. Finer, lighter fabrics can wrinkle more and tear or snag more easily. Lower Super numbers like 110’s or less are the work horse of your wardrobe. Do you travel? Work in an environment with suiting perils around? Then save the 140’s for your best special occasion suiting. In this picture, the J Hilburn executive team is working closely with the top mills in the world, Barberis, Guabello, and Loro Piana.
Wool fabrics do not wrinkle easily and steam out beautifully. Wools are not usually spotted by grease or oils.Wool is a fiber that retains its shape well, and doesn’t stretch out as others do. Wool fibers can “withstand being bent 20,000 times without breaking. In comparison, cotton breaks after 3,000 bends, silk after 2,000 bends, and rayon can only be bent 75 times without breaking”. (American Sheep Industry)
Summer or winter, wool is the backbone of your wardrobe. Tropical wools are lighter and more breathable in the summer than cotton! Style your woolen jacket and trousers to provide a wonderful diversity in your wardrobe from elegant to country casual. Enjoy your wool!
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