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protein-based fiber

Otherwise known as "wool".

the best performing material.

Protein-based fibers are the world's best performing fibers. Khullu and merino are the best overall protein-based fibers.

a closer look...

Protein-based fibers come from the animals in the families of sheep, goats, yak, camel, and even ox. The material they produce is broadly called "wool", but wool comes in many different forms.

Even though protein-based fibers such as khullu, merino, qiviut, vicuña, cashmere, and more come from many fibrous mammals, combined they make up a modest 1% of the world's production of yarn fiber.

BREATHABILITY & THERMOREGULATION:

Unlike human hair, wool has crimps, which are natural "waves" in the fiber that trap air, insulating in extreme colds and wick vapor, cooling in extreme heat.

Wool can be regarded as an ‘active’ fibre, which keeps body temperature at an equilibrium - it efficiently transfers water vapor from sweat in and away from the body as temperatures change. In fact, as wool transfers water vapor, a chemical reaction occurs that produces heat.

Yak, who grow a thermoregulating fiber called khullu live in a high elevation climate that varies between -40° F in the winters to 90° F in the summers. Even the desert-living bedouins wear lightweight wool like ours clothing to keep themselves cool (Fleece and Fiber).

WATER & ODOR-RESISTANCE

Wicking is an important benefit of wool, because in order to regulate body temperature, humans can sweat several liters a day. All this sweat can get pretty smelly right? In fact, sweat only becomes odor if it isn't wicked away. Wool has a number of unique moisture management properties that allow it to resist body odor making it ideal for #repeat wear and simplifying your life.
  • Saturation regain: wool can absorb and retain up to 35% of its own weight in moisture and still feel dry to the touch, which reduces sweat buildup and discourages bacterial growth.
  • Isolation of bacteria: after sweat is absorbed from the skin's surface it travels outwards where it evaporates. In the process, wool actively binds and isolates bacteria within it's fiber. The isolation of bacteria reduces odor to the point where unwashed wool has 66% less odor intensity than plastic-based fibers and 28% less than cotton fabrics (Woolmark).
Fun fact: bacteria thrive in humid environments, where sweat is trapped instead of being wicked away. For example, while a 1x1cm area on a human forearm contains around 100 bacteria, an identical square in the armpit contains on average 10 million bacteria (Popular Science).

Abrasion Resistance & Elasticity:

The crimps in wool are akin to a molecular coil spring. The fibers naturally expand and contract according to their environment. Th crimps allow wool fibers to be stretched up to 50% of their length when wet / 30% when dry and still bounce back to their original shape when stress is released.

The flexibility gained from wool crimps makes the fiber more durable. Merino wool, for instance, can be bent back on itself more than 30,000 times without breaking, compared to about 3,000 times for cotton and 2,000 times for silk (American Wool).

Sustainability:

Compared to both plastic-based and many cellulose-based fibers, protein-based fibers, such as the wools that make up our sweaters, are far more sustainable. Wool is a 100% regenerative material, which is in many cases naturally shed. Being a natural material, wool biodegrades in just a few months vs. up to 200 years in the case of plastic-based fibers.

Wool is also self-cleaning, meaning it will release bacteria and odor even in a cold wash, which is great news because 25% of the carbon footprint of clothing comes from its lifespan of care (Fashion Revolution).

ALLERGIES & care:

Very few people are actually allergic to protein-based fibers, which are essentially the same as human hairs. That said, people are allergic to what comes on wool, such as lanolin. Lanolin is a fiber protectant that wool-bearing animals naturally and evolutionarily produce.

Lanolin and wool treatment chemicals are regularly washed out of wool before finalizing a garment. Therefore one of the most important factors impacting sensitivity is the fiber fineness. While a human hair has a average diameter of 75 microns (µm), the wool we use in our sweaters is ultra-fine at 17.5µm.

Regarding care, wool has cuticle layers, like fish scales, covering the surface. In hot water or under friction in the presence of heat and moisture, the "scales" open and interlock the fibers together, felting them, and preventing the fiber from returning to its original position. 

KNOW YOUR MATERIALS?

Prove it! We challenge you to test your knowledge on protein-based fiber.