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The merino is one of the world’s most ancient breeds of sheep and one of the toughest.
Very different to a regular sheep who chews grass in the lowlands, Icebreaker merino live in the extremes of New Zealand’s Southern Alps where regular sheep would freeze to death up there.
The Southern Alps is an extraordinary landscape that stretches like a spine down the South Island of New Zealand. It consists of dozens of mountains, thousands of glaciers, ice-carved fjords, forests, alpine lakes and huge snowfields.
The merino have learned to handle these extremes by developing a high-tech coat of exceptionally fine wool that is light and breathable in the summer and highly insulation in the winter.
The merino’s fleece is built for extremes – breathable in summer, insulating in winter, yet exceptionally soft and lightweight.
THE PERFECT FIBRE:
This wool makes for an amazing fibre used for clothing, that is natural, breathable and extremely comfortable.
Unlike traditional wool products that are produced with thick fibres, which make it warm, but also heavy and itchy.
Merino Wool is the perfect fibre for comfort and performance - invented by nature and engineered for people.
- It's comfortably soft and non-itch.
- It's thin natural fibres make it warm in the cold and cool in the heat.
- It's light and breathable to prevent clamminess.
- It's easy to care for, quick drying and perfect for travelling.
- It has a miraculous ability to warn off smell, so perfect for active wear.
How to Care for Merino Clothing?
ENVIRONMENTAL & SOCIAL POLICIES OF OUR MERINO WOOL BRANDS:
Icebreaker show visibility throughout all stages of their production. Every piece of clothing they produce has a unique Baacode and can be traced back throughout its manufacturing process, right back to the farm where the merino wool was sourced.
Every step of their manufacturing process, whether it be the company who washes the merino wool in France, the company who spins the fibre in Germany or the company who dyes and sews the clothes in Shanghai, are all companies working with environmental and social responsibility in mind.
The company in Shanghai work under strict guidelines that guarantee fair pay and working conditions for all employees. They also adhere to an in-depth environmental program, designed to minimise waste and pollution and reduce their carbon footprint. This includes having their own water recycling plant where they recycle and purify the water they use in the dying process, this to reduce their impact on the environment. They are part of an environmental assurance program and comply with Oeko-Tex environmental standards for textiles manufacturing.
Icebreaker are committed to maintaining high animal welfare standards.
Their agreements with their high country farmers stipulate that at minimum they must provide their stock with the following:
Freedom from thirst and hunger.
Provision of appropriate shelter.
Prevention (or rapid treatment) of disease, injury or parasite infection.
Freedom from distress and the ability to roam freely.
All of the merino wool used in Icebreaker clothing is sourced from sheep that have not been “mulesed”.
Sheep dogs also have a high standard of care.
Mons Royale have chosen their manufacturing partners on their quality and their ethics. Any partners must meet Mons Royale's standards on using clean technology and fair treatment of their workers and are closely audited by the Mons Royale production team. All Mons Royale partners meet ISO 14001:2004 (an international standard that sets the framework for an environmental management system and requires businesses to commit to continuous improvement).
Their factory has a wool cleaning and combing plant that recycles and cleans its water using a purification system. The Wool spinning plant recycles heat through an air conditioner and also uses a water purification system. The textile and garment manufacturing plant only uses environmentally friendly dyes, and the water used for these dyes is processed through a water purification system meaning that any chemicals are neutralised and only clean water goes back into the environment.
All fabrics used are certified to Oeko-Tex, Standard 100, Class 1. This is the highest attainable standard and all of the Mons Royale packaging is recyclable and it’s their company policy to reduce landfill wherever possible. All of the paper they use is FSC certified and 50% of the content is made from recycled materials.
The merino wool used by Mons Royale is traceable and certified 100% non mulesed or ceased mulesed by Deloitte & Touche GmbH. Mons Royale treat animal welfare extremely seriously and all sheep are able to roam freely and cared for by local farmers.
Made in America using the finest Merino Wool from New Zealand and Uruguay, SmartWool products are made from the highest quality Merino Wool available, from sheep raised ethically. The sheep roam freely within their sheep station (which is huge!) and are shorn once each year. Electric hand clippers are used and with long, steady strokes, shearers can remove a fleece in one piece in three minutes.
SmartWool only work with Merino partners that do not practice mulesing and were strong contributors in eliminating mulesing in New Zealand. SmartWool work closely with New Zealand Merino to be able to trace their wool to the farm and to ensure every farm takes care of its sheep, its workers and its land.
SmartWool are committed to being an ethical, sustainable and responsible company and all their products are made through fair and sustainable practices.
Their partner, the New Zealand Merino Company has developed ZQ, the world's first Merino Wool accreditation program. ZQ ensures environmental, social and economic sustainability and safeguards animal welfare. The Merino sheep range freely and SmartWool work closely with their Merino partners to ensure best practices are always used and always pay fair prices.
ZQ merino fibre is backed by an on-farm accreditation programme that verifies the highest standard of quality and practice. The quest for quality continues through every stage of the ZQ Merino value supply chain and product performance is substantiated through science and innovation programmes.
Smartwool support organisations that aim to protect the natural environment and who create opportunities for future generations to get outdoors. They have also created an environmentally responsible workplace by reducing their waste, recycling and composting, rewarding alternative commuting and they promote sustainability as a core value through contributing to local initiatives.
Giving back to their community is a priority for SmartWool and they give all their employees opportunities to do this individually and as a team. All SmartWool employees are given 40 paid hours per year to volunteer with non-profit organisations. Twice a year the offices are closed so everyone can participate in two company-wide full day events, Earth Day and Servapalooza. A great way to give back to organisations that need it as well as creating a giving, caring community within their workplace.