Wool meets denim

Merino wool takes denim to innovative new heights

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Whether it’s raw selvedge or a much-loved faded pair, denim is a staple in many wardrobes. Its history as the garment of the working class and symbol of America’s counterculture during the mid-20th century has made denim one of fashion’s most iconic fabrics. It was only a matter of time, then, before brands began incorporating a high performance fibre such as Merino wool into their denim.


The main benefits that come from wool denim is that it offers all the warmth and elasticity of Merino wool with the structured aesthetic of traditional cotton denim. Denim, particularly unwashed raw denim, can be stiff and somewhat uncomfortable until it’s been worn for a few months. Wool denim addresses this by adding Merino’s inherent softness, making wool denim comfortable and moveable from the get go.


Denim’s mainstream appeal has always been its durability and versatility. Wool-blend denim retains all these but adds several new features that make it even more suitable for daily wear and tear. Washing denim has always been a contentious issue – purists are against it, stating it ruins the integrity of the fibre and its long-term aesthetic. But going prolonged periods of not washing one’s clothes isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

Recently, The Woolmark Company collaborated with New York denim maker and atelier 3x1 to create a wool denim capsule. While having traditional cotton denim’s strength and versatility, the wool denim capsule collection had the added benefits of Merino wool’s resilience and elasticity, felt softer to the touch and most importantly prevents odours developing, meaning there’s no longer any reason to fear not washing your jeans to get that unique, lived in look so coveted by denim lovers.


•    Warmth: Wool in the weft yarns ensures there is wool on the inside of the fabric. This adds an extra element of warmth even in the coldest of winters and takes the initial chill out of putting on regular denim jeans.

•    Moisture management: When wet, the wool denim fabric feels drier on the skin and more comfortable than 100% cotton.

•    Odour resistant: Wool fabrics are naturally odour resistant, so this property lends itself to also exist in wool denim. 

•    Machine washable: Specially treated wool is used to ensure you can wash and dry your jeans as per normal.


Much like standard denim, there is no end to the ways that you can wear wool denim: a daily staple teamed with a t-shirt; smart casual with white shirt and blazer; or even as more polished, tailored garments such as suits.

In 2014, The Woolmark Company collaborated with Dutch tailoring company The Makers and Italian weaver Burto to create 3x8 – three different customised suits made using a Wool Denim composed of 65 per cent Merino wool and 35 per cent cotton. This remarkably comfortable, and resilinet, fabric used exactly the same warp yarn as traditional denim but replaced some, or all, of the weft yarns with machine-washable wool. The finished product was a range of tailored garments that had all the sartorial sharpness of traditional suiting, but with the urban grit of denim.


Illustration Barry Allen Patenaude


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