Wool: Future Focused Outdoor Innovations from an Ancient Fibre

December 2022

Used for centuries, wool has held its place firmly in the outdoors arena due to its ingrained performance, including its temperature regulating and weather proof abilities.

Increasingly, outdoor brands are reverting to wool as a preferred fibre, something spurred on by a rising consumer awareness around the impact of fossil fuel based synthetic fibres. The increasing popularity of the outdoors that has evolved over the past few years has led to more people spending time in nature and understanding its abundance of benefits; from functional to medicinal and environmental.  

Wool is a subject we’ve covered before at LTP, most recently looking at the fibres' inherent benefits and performance adoption, but it is continuing to evolve in a varied and technical sense to make wider use of these benefits. As Alex Ingildsen, CCO at LTP group explains;  

“With increasing awareness of the benefits of wool, teamed with more knowledge around responsible farming, we’re seeing a huge increase in conscious innovation around the fibre.”  

In response to this drive in demand and increase in innovation, in our latest innovation book, IB:06, we highlight some of the key innovations in the area that are working to create a lower impact, while optimising the fibre to minimise waste and virgin resources. Below, we’ve highlighted some of those key areas of development that are bringing future focused outdoor innovation to the fibre.  

Low Impact Insulation  

Looking to keep us warm without synthetic based insulations or hard to trace down fills, innovations are coming to the market that seek to cut down the environmental impact of staying cosy. Doppelhaus is a UK based company, producing a non woven insulation called Cloudwool. Structured in a similar way to felt, the material goes straight from a fibre to a fabric, held together through wool's natural tendency to interlock.

Inside the 6th edition of the LTP Group’s 360° Innovation Book, image source www.ltpgroup.com

This ‘speed to structure’ reduces many of the traditional processes, like spinning and knitting, involved in conventional fabric structures. By minimising the steps, Doppelhaus are able to make their production highly traceable, guaranteeing a pure and composable material. Conventional spinning processes alone can make up around 12% of the overall carbon footprint of a final garment. In using every part of the fibre, Cloudwool is also 99% material efficient, a huge achievement when compared to the typical production waste of 17% of fibres.  

Partnering with fabric merchant Lebenskleidung, the mill has produced a version of their material that's made using local German wool from the Elbe region, and a bi-product of food production. In addition to its considered sourcing, Doppelhaus is only dyed and finished on demand pre-production, minimising the amount of waste and only keeping naturally occurring ecru tones in stock.

Image: Ralf Wileman via Doppelhaus (https://doppelhaus.co.uk/)

Though relatively new to the market, Cloudwool is being used by up and coming designers such as Ralf Wileman. Elsewhere in the outdoor market, brands are continuing to look toward alternative insulations. US based United By Blue have used salvaged Bison Wool in their BisonShield insulation. Diverting the locally sourced fibre from going to waste, while harnessing its lightweight and hypoallergenic warmth.

Image: United by Blue, BisonShield Jacket (https://unitedbyblue.com/pages/materials)

Wool Warmth  

A key necessity for the outdoors, wool offers inherent warmth that continues to be reinterpreted for the active markets. Continuing on the theme of insulation innovations, fill supplier Imbotex have recently launched their wool based insulation. Having already worked to develop cellulosic and plant based synthetic fills, their wool option is made using 40% Bavarian wool, combined with 40% Naia (a cellulose based yarn) and 20% PLA. In choosing to use locally sourced Merino wool, they’re able to incorporate the fibres temperature regulation, wicking properties and ability to stay warm when wet as well as the fibres odour reducing antimicrobial properties.

Inside the 6th edition of the LTP Group’s 360° Innovation Book, image source www.ltpgroup.com

When it comes to jersey, we’ve also highlighted Greek mill Fieratex in our Innovation Book. The mill has introduced both cashmere and merino qualities into the jerseys, blending them with GRS polyester for added durability. Sitting close to the skin these jerseys introduce added softness, along with warmth and odour control.  

It's also worth considering how wool can be structured to offer adaptable benefits to the outdoors market. Norwegian based outdoor brand Aclima were recently nominated for the Scandinavian Outdoor Award at ISPO for their StreamWool collection. Made up of reversible tops and trousers, one side of the fabric has a raised knit structure to trap air and warmth, while the other has a smoother softer finish allowing personalised insulation.

Image: Aclima Streamwool  (https://scandinavianoutdooraward.com)

Wool Additions  

Using every last part of a fibre is key in ensuring a conscious approach to resources. Within the innovation book we’ve also included a look at how we’re seeing wool adopted by trim manufacturers, an idea that provides a great addition to wool based garments.

Inside the 6th edition of the LTP Group’s 360° Innovation Book, image source www.ltpgroup.com

ACG Accent have used leftover production cuttings to make badges, an intelligent use of stock that isn’t enough to make full garments. The badges are also embroidered with a viscose thread to ensure the styles are fully biodegradable.

Inside the 6th edition of the LTP Group’s 360° Innovation Book, image source www.ltpgroup.com

LTP’s Innovation book also highlighting Mab’s wool tape which is another versatile way of using excess pre-production wool fibres.  Made with 30% wool, 40% polyester and 30% recycled elastane, the tape offers stretch, wicking and moisture management properties and can also be printed.  

How to get your copy of LTP’s Latest Innovation book

IB.05 showcases the latest innovations in textiles, trims and technologies. To get your hands on a copy of the latest Innovation book, all existing customer should contact LTP New Bizz (Jurgita).  

The 360° Innovation book has become a place for suppliers to introduce their latest “super materials” and pioneering developments. If you’re an innovative supplier and wish to be featured in the next edition, please contact New Bizz.

This resource is created as part of the companies Value Added Services which are strategically developed to provide brands with the tools to drive new and exciting innovations. This suite includes:

LTP Consciously Crafted

3D Product Visualization 

Sustainability Solutions Accelerator

Product Design & Development, Creation and Innovation 

360° Innovation book 

Seasonal Trend Analysis for the Sport & Outdoor Industry 

The Sport & Outdoor Apparel Network

For more information please feel free to contact New Bizz department at the LTP Group [lt.sales@ltpgroup.com].

About LTP

LTP is a Danish owned garment manufacturer for +60 premium brands within active sportswear, cycling, outdoor, urban performance, performance running and organic & lifestyle apparel. LTP was established in 1991 and now spans two continents - Europe and Asia with 6 fully owned factories. Our European Innovation Centre is located in Kaunas, Lithuania and our Asian Innovation Centre is located in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. We have a bluesign partner factory in all 5 countries where we operate (Lithuania, Ukraine, Romania, Belarus and Vietnam).

LTP consists of two divisions; LTP Garment and LTP Furniture producing in twelve fully-owned factories.