Bird in Sheep’s Clothing: Introducing Wazzie Wool
Ah wool. For me, it’s in the firmament of what I think of as marquee materials…wool, cashmere, leather, stainless steel, (chocolate?) Materials that are classic. That stand the test of time. And that are worth the investment.
While I never ran in wool as a kid (and didn’t think of it as a fabric for sports), I knew its life saving powers in the outdoors. A thick wool sweater was always a must-pack for trips through Yosemite. Wriggling into its warmth after a swim in a glacier-fed lake was like the ultimate transformation…to warmth, to comfort, to happiness.
Later, when I married a cyclist, I learned about wool in sport. The road racing crowd, often rich in time (who goes on 5-hour rides?!) was always poor in cash. These car-sleeping, vagabond roadies would hit up the local Goodwill and buy wool and cashmere sweaters on the cheap, using them as base layers on long, frigid rides. I still smile when I think about bulky cycling dudes stretching into cast-off old lady sweaters. But they worked. The weight to warmth ratio, stink resistance, and ability to dispel moisture is completely unrivaled by any synthetic fibers.
Then there was wool in my running. As a lifelong runner, I’ve been an avid Smartwool socks wearer. And I’ve had the occasional baselayer from varying brands. But from a design perspective (color, silhouette, detailing), most products left me cold. For whatever reason, I feel like the major wool producers have failed to innovate in design, primarily color and silhouettes. The predictable half zip top. The oddly thin long sleeve crew neck. And a color palette stuck in a range of purple, mossy green, and baby poop mustard? At the very least, it’s been nice to see stripes popping up here and there.
In the Summer of 2013, wool and Oiselle finally came together! While at Outdoor Retailer, our design team discovered one of the best wool suppliers out of Auckland, New Zealand. This supplier is known as pre-eminent Merino specialists. And their collection includes an amazing array of wool and wool blends that had been proven in the performance space.
And thus, Wazzie Wool was born.
High Merino content (93% Merino, 7% Spandex)
Merino Sheep have a very light and breathable coat that allows them to stay comfortable in both the winter, as well as the hot New Zealand summer. That makes it ideal as a performance fabric, helping runners stay warm when needed, but with superior cooling qualities.
Wazzie Wool has a complex structure with a hydrophilic (water holding) interior, known as the cortex and a hydrophobic (water repelling) exterior, known as the cuticle. Our wool will absorb perspiration without making you feel damp and uncomfortable, with the added benefit of being naturally water repellent.
Wazzie Wool is only sourced from high quality Merino farms in New Zealand. Merino specialists work with local suppliers to ensure quality at all points in the supply chain, from the farm to the mill. Ensuring that Oiselle apparel is as responsibly sourced as possible is always a top goal of mine.
Easy wear and wash
One of the things I wanted for our wool was simplicity in care. While I often recommend people baby their performance apparel, simply so it lasts longer, I myself don’t choose to do so. My schedule is just too hectic. So my goal with Oiselle is always to produce apparel that can go in regular wash and dry cycles. After wear testing Wazzie Wool, I found it can endure exactly that. After multiple washings (warm wash, tumble dry low), the garment maintained its size and fit. Having said that, again, if you want to maintain as good an appearance as possible, I recommend regular wash and line dry. Heat is hard on everything, no matter the fiber.
The “origami wing” pattern you’ll see on the Geo prints is an exclusive Oiselle design created by my friend and co-conspirator Jason Gomez. It embodies a style I’m constantly yearning for…beauty + strength. An aesthetic of fem fierce…elegant, but also a little dangerous.
I hope you love Wazzie Wool as much as I do. It has truly been a labor of love to create it, and if it keeps you warmer, dryer, happier (and feeling fly) then success! Do let us know your thoughts. And as always, you wear it best, so please send pics with #flystyle. I’ll be looking for ya!