Merino was the first sheep to be farmed in New Zealand, they were introduced to the country by the British missionary Samuel Marsden in 1814. Unfortunately, the flock didn’t last long and were promptly eaten. Twenty years later, in 1834, John Bell Wright, a sheep farmer, bought over a flock of 102 from Australia who managed to survive and not end up on the dinner table.
The use of Merino wool goes back to antiquity, Merino sheep roamed Mesopotamia, what is now known as Iraq. Merinos were found in Asia Minor, Greece, Italy and North Africa where they were shepherded by the Berbers. There was a merino wool processing plant found in the remains of Pompeii.
Due to their light, fine fleeces, Merinos thrived in the hot dry weather of Spain (and later Australia). The word Merino in Spanish means ‘thick, curly hair’. In the thirteenth-century Spain, the penalty for exporting merinos was death.
In the 21-century, merino wool is highly prized for its versatility and used by fashion labels all over the world, from John Smedley to Jason Wu. Crane Brothers have a long history with merino fabric, we asked founder Murray Crane about why he loves merino wool.
"I love using Merino Wool and given my background have a real affiliation with the product. My family were amongst the original run holders in Canterbury and have farmed there since 1851. Some of the finest wool in the world is being farmed right here in areas such as the Lindis Ridges (outside Mayfield) and Somerton Park.
Most of it is bought by the very mills we deal with on a daily basis to source the cloth we use. Amongst the very finest is Loro Piana who have supported the industry here and take a lot of the finest clip. Bright, flexible and strong.
These are the characteristics of Zelander®, a family of fabrics designed for cool and lightweight suits that are a pleasure to touch. They are made using select, exceptionally white and clean New Zealand merino wool, characterised by the length of its fibres and greater resistance to wear.
Making use of exclusive spinning and weaving techniques, Loro Piana has further enhanced the distinctive properties of this fibre by interpreting it in a range of modern, dynamic and highly wearable fabrics.