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Thank goodness- we’ve all become a little more invested in the origins of what we buy. As consumer’s values collectively shift into responsible purchasing, companies are being forced to become more accountable and transparent about their products. It’s a step forward for planet earth and ethical consumption; and we’re certainly all for it. So, what exactly is merino wool? And how does it become fabric?
Your socks begin as wool on the backs and bellies of merino sheep, which originate from the beautiful country of Spain. History has it that these sheep were highly influential in Spain’s early economy, as they were coveted for the same hardy, luxurious qualities that we love about their wool today. As a matter of fact, some even believe that the kingdom which wielded power over these pastures collected merino wool in lieu of tax (along with beef jerky and cheese).
We can’t say we blame them.
In the late 1700’s, merino sheep were eventually taken to Australia and New Zealand, where the majority of their wool is sourced from today. There, in an environment of heavy contrast to typical animal welfare, they graze happily and privately on luscious, open green pastures. Most pastures are shielded by eucalyptus trees, providing safety and shelter from unwanted visitors.
Personally, we’re a bit jealous.
Great question. We truly believe the happy origins of merino sheep make for a better product, and that’s where everything begins. The sheep are then sheared, both for the sake of great socks, and for their own quality of life (unsheared sheep become sick, immobile and blind).
From here, the fleece is washed, cleaned, and combed to remove any grease, dirt, and sweat. In a process known as top-making, wool fibres are refined even further by removing unusable pieces and arranging them to be more organized. The wool is then spun and twisted, depending on its quality, to create yarn. And that yarn is knitted, woven, and finished and dyed to create the wool products we know today (like our socks!).
We’ve already touted the benefits of merino wool socks while hiking, lounging, and beyond. We know it’s temperature regulating, sweat and stink resistant, and softer than any other sock you own. But what does your purchase mean for the sheep?
It may seem like a far reach to say that happy animals produce higher quality products, but science actually supports this claim. By purchasing merino wool, you are actively supporting the sheep farms that make concerted efforts to ensure the highest quality of life possible for their livestock; by raising them in habitats that are expansive, similar to their native environment, and undisturbed. By feeding them fresh, nutritious food. By treating them with respect.
In a world where the lives of animals are often viewed as disposable, we believe this industry is a crucial one to support. For some, merino wool socks may just be the comfiest piece in their closet. Little do they know, they’ve actually given an animal the chance at a magnificent life.
To learn more about Merino Wool and Bear Feet Socks, check out our sock blog.