Merino Wool is the choice of performance fibres for ashmei
http://www.ashmei.com/ was created because I found the performance of current running clothing was pretty low-tech. The majority of the running kit was of poor visual quality and performing to the same mediocre standards. I knew there were much better performance fabrics out there as I have been involved in the development of high end sportswear for some of the leading sports brands for the last 20 years. So I thought it was about time runners were introduced to some of these, not to mention that I also wanted some better gear for myself! Without a second thought I knew merino wool would play a major role in the development of ashmei running apparel. I have used merino wool on several high end products before and also had quite a collection of cycle, outdoor and ski gear that all use merino because of its superior performance.
Sourcing the merino wool was also pretty easy as I knew the quality and performance must be the best possible, so New Zealand & Austrailian was the only option, but I also knew we had the chance to spin to our own specification with regard to the grade and weight and could also manage the handle and feel of the fabric with different finishes.
Merino isn’t new, it’s been around for decades and was commonly used on performance climbing gear before the invention of synthetics as it was found to keep mountaineers warm and was very easy to wash and dry. Merino was used for expeditions and still is for this reason with most of the high performance sportswear in cycle, ski and outdoor using merino on their top end products because of its performance.
So why is merino so special? Most people think it’s going to be itchy or just get you too hot, but they are confusing merino with other wool’s such as lamb’s wool. It’s true, some merino is itchy but not if you select the finest merino from NZ which has been developed by nature (sheep) to be one of the finest and also the strongest type in the world.
It’s true, merino wool does warm you up when you or the conditions are cold but it is the only yarn to also cool you down when you become too warm or the sun is shining. Most people don’t realise this and think of merino as a winter only product but I have been running in merino 12 months of the year for the last 2 years and don’t think twice about a midday run on a scorching summer’s day.
The other advantage with merino is it’s naturally antimicrobial. This means it never begins to smell like synthetics do as it won’t attract and breed bacteria, and it’s this bacteria that caused that nasty whiff that never washes out and will always come back, even if you use special soaps to combat this. It means you can wear merino wool for a long run, take your garment off, fold it up and put it back in your sports gear drawer ready for the next run without having to wash it. If you wanted to, you could so this several times and the garment still won’t smell, however we do always recommend you wash them from time to time as remember the sweat is still dirty with body salts (apart from ladies who simply glow)!
So these are the two key performance statistics why we chose merino over typical cheaper polyester, but there are also some other key benefits that also confirmed our choice:
– Quick drying
– Moisture Wicking
– 100% Natural
There is one issue with merino and that’s price. It’s dramatically more expensive than the cheap petrochemical polyester fabrics, however when you work out that your merino jersey has lasted you for years and years because it still smells as nice as the day you purchased it and it’s your favourite piece of gear because of it’s performance it actually becomes great value for money and strengthens the sustainability of it’s existence. If you don’t believe me, ask any merino sheep, they swear by the stuff and you never see them in polyester!
Stuart Brooke (founder) http://www.ashmei.com/