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How luxury brands fight to keep top-quality wool producers in the game

The beneficiary: consumers who enjoy ultrafine fleece.

Transparency is a big buzzword in fashion these days, with successful young brands such as American company Everlane centring its marketing efforts around narratives of the factories it works with, or revealing a breakdown of the costs of producing, say, its latest wide-legged culottes. Thanks to growing consumer thirst to know more about the processes behind products, some luxury companies have also been spotlighting the story behind their premium raw materials.

CREATURES OF COMFORT Merino rams in New Zealand, where Loro Piana sources its finest wool. 

One recent example, although the initiatives are not new per se: Ermenegildo Zegna and Loro Piana have been calling attention to their backing of Merino-wool – ultrafine fleece from Merino sheep – growers in Australia and New Zealand. Both brands’ support for Merino wool growers goes back decades, and arose due to similar reasons – to encourage premium wool production at a time when many breeders were turning towards lower-quality wool to increase profits margins.

FIRST STEP Zegna’s fine raw fibre is processed and woven in a lengthy process.

In April, textile and menswear giant Ermenegildo Zegna held the 55th edition of its Wool Awards, awarding wool growers prizes for best overall wool, as well as finest wool – a category that recognises fibres with a diameter of 13.9 microns or less. Textile manufacturer and luxury clothing company Loro Piana has made its “Gift of Kings” Merino wool – which is just 12 microns in diameter – the theme for the latest issue of its in-house magazine. Most importantly for the consumer, the best of this wool is bought and used directly in the products of both houses. That certainly gives us the warm fuzzies.

(RELATED: Why is Brunello Cucinelli the “King of Cashmere”?)

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