They Don't Knit It Like They Used to

Tim Jarvis' bid to challenge the Antarctic in vintage wool apparel comes as the original technical fiber is experiencing a renaissance. Even today, no other textile—natural or synthetic—is as useful or trustworthy.

    Photo: Digital Zoo/Corbis

Ibex.

1. Because wool is both plush and naturally fire-resistant, merino sheepskin is a luxurious choice for airplane-seat covers made by boutique brands like AeroSheep ($225).

2. Employing a new method to compress short and long fibers into batting, Ibex uses wool in puffy jackets like the Aire sweater ($295). The filling maintains loft longer than down and insulates better when wet.

3. Wool felt is soft to the touch and fends off spills, making it a good choice for gadget sleeves. Nau uses recycled fibers in its Pad Stash ($45).

4. Wool is an ideal choice for a shoe upper: it's light-weight, insulates and ventilates, and dries rapidly. It also readily absorbs pigment. Sperry Top-Sider uses the material in its Striper Laceless CVO Slip-On sneakers ($70).

5. Patagonia adds warmth to the neoprene booties on its Rio Gallegos waders ($450) by outfitting them with a proprietary merino lining.

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