Pulling the wool over your thighs

By CSIRO

15 May 2014

2 minute read

By Simon Hunter

It is hard to imagine Usain Bolt crossing the finish line wearing a pair of crocheted running shorts or the Socceroos marching out onto the pitch in Rio in a knitted jumper, but you shouldn’t underestimate the comfort and performance of Australian wool.

Aussie wool: turning heads in fashion since 1950.

Aussie wool: turning heads in fashion since 1950.

Back in the nineties we pioneered a new fabric called Sportwool which was worn by Australia’s Olympic team at Athens and used in Manchester United’s jerseys.

But our woolly history doesn’t stop there. Earlier in the 1950s we saved thousands of winter jumpers from being ruined in the wash by developing shrink-proof wool. By treating the wool with a soft resin and heating it, a thin film forms over the fibre surface which prevents the material from shrinking.

Hate ironing? We also created a permanent pleat for fabrics using a treatment process called SiroSet. This chemically alters the structure of wool fibres so they can be set with heat. You can thank us later.

Since then, Aussie manufacturers have been jumping on the wool wagon and releasing innovative new casual wear and sportswear made most commonly from Merino Wool.

Today the latest woolly innovation in sport was announced with the release of the first commuter suit for cyclists made from Australian 135 Performance Superwool. Made by San Francisco-based company Parker Dusseau it is dubbed as the ‘outfit that is just as comfortable on your bike as it is in the boardroom’ and features spandex for stretch and reflectors sewn into the lining of the collar and cuffs.

So what makes Merino wool so special you ask? It can absorb up to 35 per cent of its dry weight in moisture vapour and has a natural crimp which provides good insulation and breathability. Merino also locks away odour molecules, which are only released upon washing.

I can't believe it's not lycra. The bike-friendly features including button-up leg are perfect for riders. Image: The Age

I can’t believe it’s not lycra. The new bike-friendly suit is perfect for the stylish commuter. Image: The Age

We don’t recommend grabbing your jumper the next time you go for a jog but it might be worth checking the label the next time you purchase a new top to see if it contains Aussie wool.