Wanted: The Wool Jacket That Knows Its Source

Every garment made by this New Zealand wool clothier comes with its own “baa-code” that lets you track down the flock of sheep it came from.

Wanted: The Wool Jacket That Knows Its Source

Icebreaker is a New Zealand company that makes clothing for men and women entirely from Merino wool. If the idea of swaddling yourself entirely in sheep-stuff is appealing now, wait til you look at the inside of your Icebreaker garment: there, you’ll find a special tag — dubbed the Baa-code — that lets you look up the location of the actual flock of sheep that provided the wool.


Below is one of the source farms that provided wool for the Icebreaker base-layer garment I’ve been wearing for several rainy days in New York. Thanks to hardy, clueless sheep pictured below, my Icebreaker garment felt comfortable and breathable, and didn’t start to stink once it got wet (as poly garments tend to do).

Screen shot 2010-11-16 at 7.07.36 AM

Why does the source matter? Icebreaker deals only in Merino wool, a thinner, softer variety than you’re probably used to. Merino is grown on the backs of the “economically influential” Merino sheep (as Wikipedia terms them) and its performance is superior to that of regular wool, which comes from pansy-ass sheep that you eat. By contrast, the highland mountain sheep that produce Icebreaker’s wool are basically titanic wool-monsters like the sheep below, who was a world champion Merino circa 1905.

File:1905 champion

Available from Show: Paramount Hood (Women’s) and Boulder Hood (Men’s). Price: $400 and $380 USD, respectively.


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About the author

I've written about innovation, design, and technology for Fast Company since 2007. I was the co-founding editor of FastCoLabs.