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Wool finds its place in activewear

"At the world’s largest activewear trade show, ISPO, in Munich which saw more than 85,000 visitors, and Outdoor Retailer in Salt Lake City, wool grabbed attention of all those on the lookout for latest fabrics that use a performance fibre produced in a natural environment from a renewable source. Merino wool’s natural benefits teamed with technical innovations are driving demand for the fibre in activewear market."

 

 

Wool finds its place in activewear

 

At the world’s largest activewear trade show, ISPO, in Munich which saw more than 85,000 visitors, and Outdoor Retailer in Salt Lake City, wool grabbed attention of all those on the lookout for latest fabrics that use a performance fibre produced in a natural environment from a renewable source. Merino wool’s natural benefits teamed with technical innovations are driving demand for the fibre in activewear market.

Wool finds its place in active wear

 

Merino wool has positioned itself as a versatile, multifunctional and technical fibre, thanks to its unique natural features and benefits, such as breathability, temperature control, moisture management, elasticity and resistance to odour. The Wool Lab Sport showcased latest innovative, commercially available Merino wool fabrics and yarns for a mix of both performance and athleisure apparel. The Woolmark Company’s Sports/Outdoor advisor Lars Ulvesund said this encompasses fabric and garment constructions that really stand out from the crowd, be it visually or through technical properties. Examples of this include circular knit fabrics with pronounced structures and seamless garments in new yarns. Meanwhile lightweight flat knits are entering the market and competing in the next-to-skin market even though it is still early days. Most significant however was the presence of spinners at the trade shows and how they are getting more and more attention. Yarns are more important than ever before in the process of new knit innovations.

Innovations at their best

The Woolmark Company exhibited its new edition of The Wool Lab Sport at the trade shows. The Wool Lab Sport, part of the Spring/Summer 2018 edition of The Wool Lab, showcases latest innovative, commercially available Merino wool fabrics and yarns for a mix of both performance and athleisure apparel.

One of the world’s oldest companies producing wool for the outdoor market – since 1853 – and in the top tier of wool apparel production, is Norway’s Devold. Working closely with their customers, Devold CEO Catherine Stange says exciting innovations arise from specific requirements of consumers. Right now, there is a clear trend towards fine micron Merino wool. The company’s 17.5-micron collection is getting more and more traction from consumers who are adapting that to a year-round alternative. In addition, they are able to expand and evolve the use of Merino into new categories. They have developed a collection for the sports/high-intensity training segment of the market based on 16.5-micron wool mixed with Tencel.

Innovative Trends

Thomas Moe, Head, Mountainwear at German brand Ortovox, sees an increase in demand for all wool products. He says, there’s a big trend in wool, a lot of people are jumping on the wool trend. Deeper means we have to go to the origin and have close contact with the farms, showing what happens from sheep to shop. When people understand the benefits of wool they don't talk about the price because they understand the need for wool. Wearing wool, one has all the fibres’ benefits such as odour resistance, and you need less garments. One wool garment is going to be more expensive than a comparable polyester garment, but since one needs less garments they actually come out better.

Helly Hansen Category Managing Director Kristoffer Ulriksen points out merino wool is a more expensive fibre but more and more markets and consumers are understanding the benefits of Merino wool and are willing to pay more to get added benefit of warmth and comfort. One of the exciting new products this season is the new seamless Merino wool product. It has such great warmth-to-weight ratio that even though it’s lightweight – it’s fairly thin – it has great comfort and warmth for the consumers.

 
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