Merino sheep graze in New Zealand BRANWYN

What is Merino Wool, Exactly?

Think you know Merino? Learn all about this amazing wool—and why it’s the very best fabric for women who love to get sweaty.
Reading What is Merino Wool, Exactly? 5 minutes

Forget your scratchy winter sweater—Merino wool is worlds away from what most people think of when they think of “wool.” This ultra-soft natural fiber comes from a specific kind of domesticated sheep called Merino, known for producing incredibly fine and luxurious wool. The opposite of itchy or hot, Merino is butter soft and actively works to keep you cool, dry, and comfy. 

Incredibly comfortable and highly sustainable, we believe Merino wool is the best fabric in the world for performance bras and underwear. Its almost-magical properties make it naturally moisture-wicking and odor-resistant. Plus, Merino wool is 100-percent biodegradable and renewable—aka amazing for Mother Earth. Let’s tackle some common questions about Merino to better understand this wonderful fiber. 

What is Merino Wool? 

Merino sheep date back to 12th-century Spain. Highly prized for its exceptionally soft wool, the breed was so valuable that the country created laws against exporting these sweet animals—a crime so serious it was punishable by death. Today, adorable and gentle Merino sheep live all over the world. There is a long tradition of Merino flocks in New Zealand where Branywn sources its wool. 

Merino wool sheep in New Zealand BRANWYN

How Does Merino Wool Work? 

Merino wool is a true wonder fiber—especially for active women. There’s no other fabric that performs better when you work hard and get a little (or a lot) sweaty. Merino wool, a completely natural fiber, works in three ways: 

    1. Fights odor. You might not realize it, but sweat on its own doesn’t really stink. What smells is the bacteria that starts to multiply in fabrics like cotton or polyester when we start to sweat. Merino is so special, because it prevents bacteria from breeding. You’ll be amazed at how many days in a row you can wear our Essential Bralette or Busty Bra without a hint of stink. This makes it great for backpacking trips—or just for easy living.  
    2. Regulates body temperature. Merino sheep stay comfy in crazy cold and super hot temperatures—and so can you when you wear their wool. The structure of the fibers acts like insulation, moving sweat away to keep you cool when it’s hot and keeping the heat in so you stay cozy when it’s cold.
    3. Keeps you dry. Merino wool can hold up to 35% of its weight in moisture without feeling wet. Compare that with just 5%(!) for synthetics. This superpower allows Merino to pull sweat away from your skin almost instantaneously. Fine fibers allow the fabric to dry super quickly, too. If you wash our Performance Innerwear and lay it out, it will be ready to go before you know it. 
BRANWYN Merino wool performance bralette and underwear

How is Merino Wool Sourced? 

Merino wool is sourced from Merino sheep in a completely natural, regenerative way. The wool of a Merino sheep grows quickly, and they need a haircut once or twice a year to stay comfortable. The shearing process doesn’t hurt them at all. In fact, it’s important for their health. It’s the fuzzy farm animal equivalent to you getting your haircut. 

Of course, not all Merino wool farms are created equal. The well-being of our sweet sheep is super important to Branwyn, and we only use New Zealand wool from ZQ-certified farmers. ZQ makes sure that animals are treated with kindness and care so they can lead their best sheepy lives.

Our sheep are free to roam and range with nearly an acre of individual space. They have constant access to clean water, good nutrition, and proper care. ZQ growers always provide shade and shelter and never perform mulesing—a painful and disgusting procedure used by some farms to prevent flystrike. Because animals do best in a healthy environment, ZQ farmers are also committed to sustainable farming practices. 

Merino sheep are happy campers in a wide range of weather, living comfortably in temperatures ranging from -5 F° to 100 F°. Their secret? Amazing wool, of course. Merino wool has special properties that help the sheep stay comfortable and dry no matter the weather.

The good news for us is that these sheep don’t mind sharing their coats. In fact, because they are a domestic breed, they need a haircut once or twice a year. That means, when people spin their wool into fabric, we can enjoy the same comfort in both cold and hot temps. 

Merino wool BRANWYN

Merino FAQ

Check out a few more fun facts about magical Merino wool Have any more questions? We could talk wool all day! Send us a line at info@branywn.com.

Is Merino wool itchy? 

Not at all! Merino is famously soft and feels great next to even your most sensitive skin (an excellent quality for underwear to have lol). 

Does Merino wool shrink? 

Branwyn’s Performance Innerwear is pre-shrunk, so it won’t shrink in the wash. 

Can you wear Merino wool in the summer? 

Definitely. The temperature-regulating properties of Merino help to move moisture away from our body, cooling you off and keeping you dry during sweaty workouts and hot days. 

How do you wash Merino wool? 

You can wash our Merino wool products with like colors in warm water with a mild eco-friendly soap, then hang to dry. On the road or in the wild? Wash with shampoo or mild soap in the shower, rinse thoroughly, squeeze out excess moisture, and hang to dry.

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