Wonderfully Wooly — Iris and Wool’s commitment to sustainably sourced Merino wool.

Posted by Emily McLeod on

Learn how Iris and Wool use the highest quality 100% Australian Merino wool in our clothing range, and give back to the planet in the process.

Iris and Wool is an Australian fashion brand built on love, kindness and unwavering determination. Our founder, Emily Riggs, always dreamt of designing. Following a childhood dream, and after experiencing great tragedy in early life, today Iris and Wool create luxury designs of the highest quality, giving back to our beautiful Earth and the people we share it with in the process. 

At Iris and Wool, we’re committed to the values of sustainability and quality in everything we do. That’s why, from day one, we’ve made the conscious choice to use 100% Australian Merino wool in all of our collections. We’ve seen a boom in the Merino wool industry, as more consumers support local and opt for slow fashion, made to last.

Why Merino?

If you’re wondering where the name ‘Merino’ comes from, it’s taken from the Merino sheep itself. The animals are known for their excellent wool quality and fine hair structure, which translates as soft, luxurious textures for producers and shoppers alike.

Not all wools are made equal. Depending on the end product, wool ranges from broad (produced for carpets and materials needing strength and durability), medium wool (for knitting yarns and woven cloths) and our fine Merino wool. Through years of innovative breeding, the ultra-fine structure of Merino wool rivals that of cashmere (made from the hair of goats) and is even finer than human hair. The sheep also produce a higher yield of fleece than their goat counterparts — 4.5kilograms vs 0.2-0.3 kilograms of cashmere down fibres per animal.

Though the word “cashmere” might have you thinking of high-end fashion, Merino wool isn’t for luxurious wares only. It’s a great all-rounder for every day. Merino wool is particularly popular with hikers and sportspersons due to its moisture-wicking, insulating, temperature-regulating, odour-resistant, breathable and elastic qualities. Basically, it’ll keep you warm in winter, cool in summer and oh-so-comfortable, always. You’ll be protected from the elements in style.

Due to the soft, smooth nature of the wool, it’s suitable for even the most sensitive skin. As we’ve seen the demand for this type of natural fabric grow, we’ve expanded our range to womenswear, menswear and childrenswear, all made from the quality fleece.

Naturally Australian

Iris and Wool is proudly an all-Aussie family business. We’re led by Founder and CEO, Emily Riggs and partner, Tom — coincidentally a Merino sheep farmer himself — and care for 15,000 Merino sheep across four properties in Burra, South Australia. In Australia, we’re lucky to have some of the top producers of premium wool right on our doorstep. With so many happy Merino sheep roaming our beautiful country, Australia is the largest producer of wool globally.

In a commitment to support fellow independent businesses, and nurture the local community and industry of wool producers, our clothing can be traced back to the farms that made the wool. We work with Woolmark — the leading body for Merino wool — to make this possible. They’re committed to linking farmers, producers and consumers, so you know exactly where your new knit came from. The good news is that it’ll never be far away!

What Goes Around, Comes Around 

OR Saving The Planet, One Jumper At A Time

Wool is a natural fibre. Unlike fabrics like polyester and acrylic, it’s simply made from air, grass and water — all off a sheep's back. This means there aren’t any man-made nasties (often harmful to the planet and on your delicate skin) and support efforts to protect our oceans from the devastating plastic pollution. 

Did you know that every wash of industrial produced garments releases tiny pieces of plastic into your washing machine, then into the ocean?  As synthetic fibres are made from plastic, they create plastic. Though they might seem like tiny, unnoticeable specs in your laundry, they add up to a much bigger problem for our marine life. With Merino wool, you can wash your clothes time and time again with none of the harmful consequences. And the quality of the fabric means you’ll have to wash them far less. It’s a win-win!

What’s more, Merino wool uses significantly less energy and water to produce when set against man-made fabrics. Where synthetic materials require fossil fuels for production, all we need is the yearly fleece from the sheep!

When it’s time to let go of your Iris and Wool piece, it's 100% biodegradable, so won’t take years to break down. The soil even benefits from the protein and amino acids released back into the Earth..

Circular fashion 

We’re living in a time of circular fashion. Gone are the days of the fast fashion “wear it once and forget about it” mentality. The world is shifting and we’re pleased to see slow fashion becoming big business. It’s out with the old “make, use, dispose” model and in with the new… 

So, what is circular fashion? Here are the three steps:

  • Make thoughtfully and buy quality: As a maker, at Iris and Wool we take time to produce clothing with purpose. When choosing a new piece of clothing, seek out quality products made to last. Cheaper items are often made with synthetic, low-quality materials that are likely to lose their shape, discolour and have a shorter hanger-life.
  • Wear lovingly, longtime: Your new piece will stay with you for years and years. Love it, wear it and wash it knowing a spin in the washer is nothing it can’t handle. Whether it’s your Quirindi Cable jumper to cosy up in each winter, or your go-to Tom Zipper for walks on the farm, it’ll be an item to make memories in. 
  • Recycle: Landfill is a big no-no when it comes to circular fashion. Vintage and second-hand shopping is becoming increasingly popular, so when you’re ready to say goodbye to your clothes, first check if it’s in a condition to be donated to your local op shop.
    If it’s on its last legs/arms/toes, then recycle it through one of Australia’s recycling programmes. You might even make some money back in the process! It’s not the driving force on why to do it, but a great incentive all the same.

With Australians purchasing 27kg of new textiles each year and discarding around 23kg into landfill — annually we’re proud to be one business taking a step towards a circular way of thinking.

A Cause For Celebration

We’re privileged to be part of the prestigious Woolmark accreditation. Known as the “global authority on wool”, Woolmark is the link between woolgrowers, brands and consumers worldwide. A not-for-profit organisation, they work with over 60,000 woolgrowers to ensure authenticity, quality and transparency, so you don’t have to. There’s no faux fur in these parts! 

To gain accreditation, our wool was rigorously tested in areas like durability, wool content (making sure the fibres are exactly what they claim to be), laundry testing for loss of shape and shrinkage, and colour loss. We’re pleased to say that our Merino wool passed with flying colours. 

We’re part of a community of over 5 billion wool and wool-care product businesses across the globe; all sharing ideas and creating positive change for the planet. You can shop with confidence that you’re buying a quality, natural product.

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