Why is merino wool so expensive?

Those who have never heard of merino wool often balk at the price. Why is it so expensive? What justifies the hefty price tag? Is it worth it?

We’ve been there… you’re shopping online or in store and you have two long-sleeved tops in your hands, one is a standard run of the mill cotton top, and the other one is more expensive and has a specialty classification like organic. The tops generally look and feel the same. So why would you pay an extra 25% for an item that will serve the same purpose? We get it.

Merino generally suffers from the same stereotype as other specialty fabrics. Some people think it’s probably all marketing and has big margins. However merino wool is not just a brand or a classification. It’s completely different. It is 100% natural, it grows on sheep, and it is inherently a more premium fabric not only because of its benefits it gives but also the costs associated with getting the wool from the sheep’s back to your back.

The world is falling in love with merino wool. It’s no longer a secret. Companies like Icebreaker are selling for over $100 million and they are showing the world that natural fibres are best. However, as a result, demand is going up, and if you ever took an Econ 101 class at school, high demand drives up the cost of raw materials… there simply aren’t that many merino sheep out there, and all the wool they produce is pre-sold or at auction, making it very scarce. However high demand and scarce supply are not the only reasons for the hefty price tags:

  • As opposed to cotton which grows on plants of polyester which is made of petrochemicals, wool grows on sheep… and it grows slowly. Each merino sheep will generally produce enough wool for 5 adult garments each year and to do so they need to be treated with the utmost care with regards to health, food, and shelter. Good things take time.
  • Merino wool is much finer than traditional wool and undergoes a strict classification and certification process to ensure the finished fabrics are soft and itch free. In addition, because of these fine fibres, more wool is needed per garment than traditional wool to achieve the same weight.
  • Ethical fashion is becoming more and more important. Easy, fast fashion is cheap, but ends up costing a lot more in terms of the environment and humanity.  
  • And while the synthetic options are cheaper and wrinkle free, this natural option requires less washing, won’t stink like synthetics and becomes softer over the time.

 It is expensive yes, but if you value comfort, quality, and the environment, we think it’s worth the investment!