How to understand merino wool grades?

Merino wool is known for its softness, warmth and versatility. However, there are different grades that determine the quality and characteristics of the wool.

You may have noticed the terms "microns" and "g/m²" or "GMS" associated with merino wool products...

These are two important terms to understand when choosing merino wool clothing and it's really not rocket science!

Microns refer to the diameter of the fiber which makes it soft and GSM ( grams per square meter) or in French g/m² indicates the weight of the wool, or the density of the fabric.

In this article, I'll explain the distinctions between different grades of merino wool, with a particular focus on weight, microns, and other crucial aspects like fiber provenance and fabric composition, because Very often, clothing is referred to as being made from "merino" when it is, in fact, made from a small proportion of real merino wool.

Here are 4 essential points to consider when shopping for merino wool clothing.

1. The composition of the fabric

It is essential to always carefully examine the composition of merino wool products. Many so-called "merino" garments actually contain higher proportions of synthetic materials than merino wool. This is a practice intended to reduce production costs and which can be misleading for the consumer.

So, if you are looking for a product with all the properties of merino wool, it is preferable to favor those composed of 100% merino wool such as Timininous products, or to choose a mixture composed mainly of merino wool.

2. Microns: the measurement of fineness

The diameter of a merino wool fiber is measured in microns. The lower the number of microns, the finer the wool.

Interesting fact: a human hair measures on average 50 microns… The majority of the merino wool we use at Timininous is 18.5 microns! This means that merino wool yarn is really very, very fine!

Here are the ways to categorize the different types of wool according to their microns:

Less than 15 Microns

It really is the cream of the crop in terms of finesse. These fibers are extremely soft and luxurious. This wool is categorized as “ultrafine”.

It is very rare, very expensive and reserved for delicate projects.

From 15 to 19 microns

Fibers in this category are called “superfine” and provide exceptional softness.

These are the fibers that we mainly use for our clothing.

It is only possible to produce superfine merino wool in small quantities, which increases the price of this wool quality.

From 19.5 to 24 microns

This type of mid-grade merino wool, offering a good balance between softness and durability.

It is used for close-fitting clothing, but also for blazers.

Microns greater than 24

Merino wools with more than 24 microns are considered relatively thick and rough.

They are used for items where softness is not the priority, such as making rugs.

3. The weight of the wool

The number of g/m2 (grams per square meter) or GSM (grams per square meter), is a measure of the density of merino wool in a fabric or knit, also called grammage.

This measurement is used to assess the weight or thickness of wool fabric, which can have implications for its use and performance.

More specifically, the number of g/m2 indicates the weight of merino wool per square meter of fabric. A higher value generally means a denser, heavier fabric, while a lower value indicates a lighter fabric.

A fabric with a higher g/m2 count will generally have better thermal insulation, because it contains more wool fibers per unit area.

For example, our fleece has a weight of 360 g/m² and the wool we use for our base layers ranges between 200 and 250 g/m².

    4. The origin of merino wool

    Wool quality depends on several factors, including climate, sheep diet, flock genetics and breeding practices.

    Merino wools from regions renowned for their merino breeding, such as the Australian Highlands, the New Zealand Alps and the Argentine Pampas, are often considered among the finest in the world due to the combination of these factors.

    The wool that we use at Timininous comes mainly from Australia, the world's leading producer of merino wool.

    When purchasing merino wool products, we recommend checking the provenance of the wool and looking for certifications that attest to ethical and sustainable breeding practices, such as RWS, Woolmark, ZQ, Nativa. etc. This not only provides you with better quality, but also assurance regarding animal welfare and the sustainability of production.

    In conclusion, understanding merino wool grades is essential to making informed choices when purchasing wool clothing. Terms such as microns, fabric composition, wool weight and fiber provenance play a crucial role in determining the quality and characteristics of wool.