An Icelandic wool manufacturer is pioneering a new technology putting a new twist on the fiber’s outerwear performance benefits.
Reykjavik-based Icewear, known for its traditional Icelandic knit sweaters, has debuted a line of performance jackets for men and women with proprietary insulation developed from sheep’s wool.
In partnership with yarn-maker Istex, Icewear has created an insulating material made from two types of fibers found in Icelandic sheep. “Tog” fibers are long, tough and water-resistant, while “Thel” fibers are shorter, softer and curlier, creating an effective barrier against cold temperatures. These fibers are often discarded by the ton because they don’t have the structure necessary for conventional yarns.
Icewear has developed a Oeko-Tex-certified, sheet-like felted barrier from these fibers, which sits between the outerwear’s inner and outer layers. The new line features men’s and women’s outdoor apparel, from jackets to vests, parkas, snowsuits and mittens, priced at $38-$459.
The innovation harnesses the unique properties of Icelandic wool while making use of waste fibers. “Icewear has proven that a new standard for waste reduction is as sustainable as it is profitable,” it said. As “the world’s only manufacturer of Icelandic wool insulation for outdoor clothing,” Icewear said its new line “has gained attention among environmentalists.” It hopes to expand the insulation technology to the greater outdoor industry.
Icelandic wool is one of the country’s top economic drivers, with more than 900 tons of wool-derived products exported annually at peak production. The sector is also considered sustainable, with farmers grazing sheep on the Icelandic countryside instead of transporting feed and supplies throughout the country.
Lambs born each spring are allowed to roam throughout the summer and fall before being herded for shearing at an annual sheep-gathering festival. “This farming model is better for the sheep, better for the farmers, and better for the land,” Icewear said.