Thursday, February 09, 2017

Your Gear is Saving American Wool Ranchers

But there’s an upside to the harsh American West: the sunny, arid climate spurs the ­animals to produce small-diameter wool ­fibers that can make a merino-grade garment. “American wool is loftier,” says Rita Samuelson, marketing director of the American Wool Council. “It tends to be spongy, due to a combination of ­genetics, ­nutrition, and environmental conditions.” Recently, outdoor brands have started pay­ing top dollar to include American wool in their goods, revitalizing what was once a dying industry. Farm to Feet uses U.S. wool in its socks, which you can find in nearly 800 stores, including Cabela’s and REI. So does Bozeman, Montana, apparel maker Duckworth, which owns a flock of more than 10,000 sheep and controls every stage of its U.S.-based manufacturing process. Voormi, a Colorado company, combines wool produced in the Rocky Mountains with synthetics to engineer fabrics that the company says perform better than wool alone. And Patagonia, which took a PR hit last year when PETA posted a video of its South American suppliers skinning live lambs, has revamped its supply chain and is now sourcing American wool for many of its socks. This is a major change from a decade ago. In 2007, the American Sheep Industry Association reported that 71 percent of U.S. wool was exported. Today only half is...more

No comments: