Merino Made in the U.S.A.

Mar 7, 2012
Outside
Outside Magazine

If you are wearing wool socks or long underwear, it’s likely that they’re made from sheep fleece shipped from half way around the world. New Zealand and Australia have been breeding Merino sheep—with long-staple, non-itchy wool—for a long time. Now, Montana ranchers have become adept at raising merino sheep. And at least two manufacturers are sourcing their merino stateside, which keeps jobs in the U.S., and saves resources.

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For Montana-based Teko Socks, switching to Montana Merino was a no brainer. Its S3 SIN3GRI socks are made from Montana wool and 100% recycled ultrafine polyester. Together they provide the benefits of wool, with the comfortable, lightweight, and quick-dry properties of poly. The poly is collected and upcycled in the southeastern US, the wool is milled and polished in South Carolina, and the socks are knitted in North Carolina. The series has hiking and ski styles, available Fall 2012, $16-$25, tekosocks.com

Ibex_MensShakLiteHalfZipIbex also made the switch to wool from a Rambouillet sheep ranch in Lavina, Montana. The Lehfeldt family has been breeding sheep there with ultra fine wool for at least a century.

Its Shak Lite sweaters will feature Montana wool, and they’ll also be knitted stateside. The wool is sheared in Montana, combed and scoured in South Carolina, spun into yarn and knit into fabric in North Carolina, and finally cut and sewn into Shaks in Northern CA.

What does that mean for Ibex? “We can be more hands on in every process along the way from the farm to the finished garment,” said John Fernsell, founder and CEO. “Ultimately, that means even higher quality garments." Check out the farm in Ibex’s video here.

Ibex's Men's Shak LIte Half Zip Sweater is an excellent midlayer for winter activities, and a thin and stylish sweater for all the time. Available Fall 2012, $135, ibex.com.

-Berne Broudy
@berneb 

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