A short history of merino wool

Merino wool is an especially luxurious, fine, soft, resilient natural fibre spun from the fleece of merino sheep. It is comfortable and soft to wear against the skin and helps to keep the wearer dry. 

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Merino wool’s origins

It is thought that desert tribes in North Africa used wool for hundreds of years due to its insulating properties, which permit the wearer to keep cool in the extreme heat of the day and warm in the cold nights of the desert.

How did merino wool develop?

Merino wool has a long and distinguished history. The merino sheep itself is thought to have originated in Spain in the 1100s. Merino wool was treated by the Spanish as a very special and luxurious fibre, with the royal family keeping their own flock. The wool was so highly prized that exporting merino sheep from Spain was a crime punishable by death. Merino eventually spread to the rest of the world, first to Europe via a gift by the Spanish Royals to their counterparts in Saxony, and then to the United States, Australia and New Zealand. 

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Vast numbers of merino sheep were used in the United States in the first quarter of the 19th century due to the British embargo on wool exports to the United States. At the same time, merino flocks in Spain dwindled due to the impact of the Napoleonic wars.

Merino sheep are thought to have been introduced to Australia at the end of the 18th century as part of the first fleet. From that point onward, numbers in Australia have continued to increase. From Australia, the merino was taken to New Zealand, with a distinct New Zealand merino breed then being developed.

According to the nonprofit Woolmark, merino wool has timeless appeal in fashion. Merino wool is found in all types of garments, from a traditional womens merino wool Irish sweater such as those at https://www.shamrockgift.com/womens-merino-wool-irish-sweater to couture and tailoring.

Merino wool continues to be highly valued today. There is an increasing trend towards using more natural renewable fibres. The comfort, warmth and luxury provided by merino makes it a popular choice. Many adventurers and explorers will turn to merino for unbeatable base layer clothing, while others will choose it for stylish outer garments that also provide luxury, warmth and comfort.