Seamless Merino knitwear designed for performance

This seamless collection incorporates a three-dimensionality in the fabric whilst retaining the soft touch and feel that people associate with Merino wool.

A new prototype yoga collection that illustrates the full potential of Merino wool in seamless performance apparel is being showcased to the textile trade by AWI’s subsidiary The Woolmark Company, with the aim to drive new growth opportunities for wool in sports and performance wear markets.

Merino wool is soft next to skin, breathable, naturally elastic and odour resistant, making it ideal for stretch related activities like yoga. In addition, the eco-credentials of the fibre – namely being 100% natural, renewable and biodegradable – align with yoga’s connection with both nature and mindfulness.

Seeing a gap in the market for seamless yoga apparel made from Merino wool, The Woolmark Company’s processing innovation team introduced Merino wool to the state-of-the-art circular seamless knitting machines of Santoni.

A prototype seamless yoga collection made from Merino wool is being showcased by The Woolmark Company at trade shows across the world to inspire brands to use the fibre in similarly innovative ways in their own collections.

Through rigorous product development, a 12-piece collection was designed by innovative knitwear design studio Eva x Carola, using Merino yarn from Südwolle Group. Created in a vibrant colour palette, the collection includes leggings, crop tops and bras, racer-back tank top and a T-shirt, all designed with performance in mind.

The collection was launched at the sporting textiles trade show Performance Days in Munich in November and continues to be shown by The Woolmark Company at other leading trade shows, including ISPO. International trade shows are the ideal place to showcase the collection, with the aim to inspire the attending manufacturers and brands to use Merino wool in their own seamless performance apparel, thereby building demand for the fibre.

“This innovative new concept yoga collection draws on the form and function of seamless construction whilst highlighting wool’s natural benefits and innate versatility.”

Julie Davies, AWI

“With the increasing rise of mindful consumption and the importance of health and wellbeing, The Woolmark Company brought together a collection of like-minded partners inspired by fitness and yoga’s connection with all things natural,” explained AWI General Manager, Processing Innovation & Education Extension Julie Davies.

The Woolmark Company works closely with spinners to develop Merino wool and wool-rich yarns for specific categories, such as performance-wear, and in this way drives new growth opportunities for wool.

Choosing the perfect yarn was a major factor for the design of this collection, with Eva x Carola finding the right balance between pushing a next level three-dimensionality in seamless products with a certain level of performance, whilst also retaining the right touch and feel.

The collection’s hero yarn is a superfine 15.5 micron Merino wool yarn from the Südwolle Group.

“For our next-to-skin yarns we use superfine Merino wool, ranging from 15.5 microns upwards to ensure next-to-skin softness and comfort,” said Michel Mastio, Director Circular Knitting and Hosiery Yarns, Südwolle Group.

“The persistent rumour that wool is itchy is outdated and clothing made from this Merino wool has a wonderful soft touch. Choosing the right twist level is always a balancing act between the yarn’s hairiness and softness. Next-to-skin clothing must be abrasion resistant and so a higher twist level is needed.”

“The beauty and sophistication of this natural fibre means we can create styles with an unparalleled level of fineness and softness, creating innovative patterns and structures on a single finished fabric.”

Leila Guo, Santoni

The collection was constructed using the latest seamless technology circular knitting machines from Santoni Shanghai. What started as a way to manufacture comfortable under garments, these machines are now opening new markets.

“Seamless technology from Santoni Shanghai is key to creating graphics within the textiles,” explained Santoni Shanghai Marketing Director, Leila Guo. “When seams are removed, fantastic results can be achieved; the garment attains a new level of comfort that is seldom found with conventional methods.

“Combining wool with Santoni Shanghai’s technology means we can create a unique touch experience with fine gauges, no seams and mindful engineering. Clothing has that all-important second skin effect that feels soft and sensual against the skin.”

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