IT'S the well-worn fabric that everybody has in their wardrobe, and the wool industry is getting in on the trend, producing high quality denim that looks good and wears well.
Merino denim is an area of strong growth for the Australian industry, with leading labels using the fabric to create comfortable, warm clothing with advanced moisture management.
Among the benefits of Merino wool is the warmth and comfort, as wool in the weft yarn ensures there is wool on the inside of the fabric, adding an extra element of warmth and comfort even in the coldest of winters.
Wool fabrics are also naturally odour resistant, and with fabric's advanced moisture management means that when it's wet, the wool denim feels dried on the skin and more comfortable than 100 per cent cotton.
AWI has worked with development partners to produce a wool/cotton denim blend which uses exactly the same warp yarn as traditional denim, but replaces some, or all, of the weft yarns with machine-washable wool.
AWI has worked with international brands including Levi's, Amsterdam Denim Days, Max Mara, Facetasm and Colovos, which won the 2019 International Woolmark Prize for womenwear.
Rigorous trials, customer feedback and testing have led us to develop what we believe is the best Merino denim fabric out there - and will put our local Merino wool on the fashion map, globally.- Emily Riggs, Iris and Wool
Australian brands offering wool denim include RM Williams, Toorallie Australia, Thomas Cook Clothing and Iris and Wool, which has had Merino denim products for the past 18 months.
The business has combined the durability of denim and comfort of Merino wool for the perfect pair of jeans, according to founder and designer Emily Riggs.
The horse rider recognised a gap in the market for stretch jeans that were strong enough to ride in but kept their shape after many wears.
Mrs Riggs developed a thicker blend and a unique four-way stretch for supreme comfort using the same warp yarn as traditional denim but replacing certain waft yarns with machine washable wool. Features include temperature regulating properties, odour resistance, ability to breathe and absorb 30 per cent of its own weight in moisture.
"Rigorous trials, customer feedback and testing have led us to develop what we believe is the best Merino denim fabric out there - and will put our local Merino wool on the fashion map, globally," Mrs Riggs said.
The line includes jeans and riding breeches for women, and men's jeans that were created in collaboration with Mrs Riggs' husband Tom, a fifth-generation woolgrower at Burra, South Australia. Iris and Wool will launch a pair of denim shorts in its maiden spring collection this year.
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