Over the years we have used all sorts of fabrics, both for personal use as well as in our design practice. Back in 2001, we were some of the first in the world designing and making cycling attire from 100% Superfine Merino. Since this time, we have gradually moved to specialising in only using Superfine Merino where possible, as the overall benefits to the wearer became ever clearer.
The Superfine Merino fabric we use is 100% Australian and New Zealand grown, woven and dyed. It is not sent offshore to be processed but made in Victoria, Australia. This ensures our Merino retains a very low carbon footprint by reducing the transportation required from the farm to our supplier and from our supplier to us; all of which adds to the already high sustainable credentials of wool fibre.
The Merino textiles we use is tested against the stringent Woolmark standards, guaranteeing the highest quality and standards, and is certified ‘non-Mulesing’, sourced from ‘best farming practices’ growers that ensure the highest standards of animal welfare; something highly important to us here at ELEVEN vélo.
If you are wondering why you should use 100% pure Superfine Merino over other materials, the below gives an excellent summary…
Merino fibre can absorb up to 35 per cent of its dry weight in moisture vapour. Therefore in hot climates or during strenuous exercise, a Merino garment close to the skin actively transfers moisture molecules away from the body. The causes the micro-climate above the skin to become less saturated with vapour, thereby making the wearer less clammy and it less likely for the vapour to form seat droplets on the skin’s surface.
How wool’s unique structure affects performance:
The chemical bonding within a Merino fibre has the effect of allowing the fibres to pull moisture vapour into them.
Without this effective dispersal system, the vapour simple condenses to form sweat droplets on the skin’s surface. The diagram represents the unique structure of Merino’s electrically charged side chains.
Why temperature control matters
Temperature control is essential in sustaining human life.
Merino garments protect the wearer from extremes of temperature (hot or cold) because they offer superior insulation and breathability compared to other fabrics of similar structure and weight. This insulation capacity has made wool synonymous with warmth, while its breathability protects the wearer from heat.
Understanding moisture transportation:
In hot climates or during strenuous exercise, the micro-climate above the skin becomes saturated with vapour. This will make the individual clammy unless their garments can transport this moisture away from the skin.
Merino fibres are finer than traditional wool, so they feel luxuriously soft next to the skin. And they work in total harmony with the wearer’s body due to their excellent natural elasticity. So Merino in next-to-skin garments is ideal for stretch related activities.
The scientific term for ‘breathability’ is ‘moisture buffering’. Moisture buffering refers to the fabric’s capacity to absorb moisture vapour from the micro-climate above the skin and release it again if the humidity drops.
When someone says a garment ‘breathes’ they are referring to its ability to dissipate perspiration so that the wearer does not feel clammy or uncomfortable.
The weight of vapour absorbed by a fibre as a percentage of its dry weight is known as its ‘regain’. Merino has a high regain which means that it is better suited to absorbing the moisture vapour produced by the wearer and releasing it into the atmosphere. This results in lowering the humidity in the mirco-climate between the skin and the garments resulting in minimised sweating.
This ability to release moisture and minimise sweating will reduce the clamminess felt by the wearer, providing increased comfort during exercise.
Sweating is nature’s temperature regulator – the evaporation of liquid from the skin’s surface producing a very efficient cooling effect. Potentially, clothing can obstruct this process causing overheating. However, compared to clothing made from other fibres, Merino’s process of vapour transfer results in cooler muscles that are able to work at higher intensity levels.
Merino fibre has a natural crimp which provides Merino garments with superior insulation and breathability. Merino garments protect the wearer from extremes of temperature , keeping the wearer arm when the outside temperature is cold, yet cool when the temperature is hot.
The ability to dissipate static electricity means that Merino garments have a reduced attraction to lint and fluff. They will also not cling uncomfortable to the wearer, which synthetics often do during exercise, resulting in a more comfortable workout.
Merino fibres have a natural protective layer that prevents stains being absorbed, and due to them being less prone to static build -up, Merino fibres do not readily attract dust.
Recent innovations also mean that men Merino products can be machine washable and tumble-dried.
A Naturally Safer Fiber:
Merino fibres naturally absorb UV radiation, offering protection to wearers of Merino garments when exposed to sunshine.
The Merino fibre is also naturally fire resistant due its relatively high moisture and nitrogen content.
Merino stays fresher for longer. Merino wool’s structure and moisture absorption properties reduce the tendency for the build-up of body odours. its complex chemical structure locks the odour molecules within the fibre and only releases them on washing.
Merino fibre has a natural elasticity meaning it stretches with the wearer, and then returns to its natural shape. This means there is less chance of Merino garments sagging or loosing their shape.
Technical information courtesy The Woolmark Company