From Sheep To Sweater
In the spring of 2018 we initiated our biggest commitment to Full Traceability yet: The unraveling of our merino wool supply chain, to be able to trace our actions, uncover their impact and relay back to you the raw story of what it takes to create our garments. 18 months later, after circumventing the traditional chain of order, partnering with our Italian yarn mill, approaching Australian farmers directly and investing in 4 300kg of raw wool, we’re here.
Head down to follow the journey of our all-new Merino wool essentials: From sheep to sweater.
The Smith Farm
The Smith Farm sits 650 meters above sea level in Victoria, Australia, and keeps 5000 Pendarra and Bindawarra Merinos on 4000 acres of rolling hills and river beds. The Smiths are forth generation merino farmers and have lived in harmony with their land and animals for 100 years. The Merinos thrive in the volatile weather characteristic of this area -snow, rain, hot and cold temperatures. Their wool retains heat when it’s cold and breathes when it’s hot - properties that extend all the way to the garments we make from it. Shearing takes place in September and every ounce of wool is visually and tactilely inspected before shipping.
Scouring & Combing
NADRAZNI, CZECH REPUBLIC
The raw wool is shipped to our state of the art processing facility in the Czech Republic to be cleaned and combed. Started as a wool mill in 1846 a stone cast from the Rolava River, the facility eventually developed into a specialized Scouring (the technical term for cleaning) and Combing facility, handling over 23 million kilograms of wool per year. You can imagine it wasn’t easy to convince them to handle our 4300 kilograms separately. To remove sand, dirt and dried sweat (suint), the wool is scoured in a series of alkaline baths which contain water, soap, and soda ash. Once the wool is clean, it's combed — a mechanical process that disentangles the fiber and places them in fluffy lines parallel too each other.
Next up is our Merino Wool Spinning Mill - a modern facility based in Łódź, Poland, an area known for its expertise in wool material processing and knitwear. Here the wool, still fluffy and thick, has to undergo the delicate process of being spun into a long continuous thread. The facility is equipped with high-tech and energy efficient spinning machinery, which stretch, spin and twist the fiber into a strong, luxurious yarn. The carefully calibrated process sees 1kg of wool spun into 30km of yarn. The yarn is then wrapped onto commercial cones and packed ready for the next step in the chain.
The spun yarn is then transported to our dyeing facility just North of Milan, located in a series of turn-of-the-century heritage buildings. With over 100 years of experience, our dyeing house has mastered the art dyeing, hitting the mark on colour uniformity, depth and fastness. Dyeing is both energy, compound and water intensive, so the mill makes considerable efforts to reduce its impact. The facility is powered by renewable energy with a combination of photovoltaic solar panels and hydroelectric power. Also on-site is a water cleaning facility, large enough to clean wastewater from the facility as well as civil wastewater back to grade A drink water.
Richly dyed cones then arrive at our knitters - a family owned enterprise with 70 years of experience, located just off Lake Trasimeno in Magione, Italy. Our sweaters are knitted “fully fashioned”, meaning that each panel (each part of the sweater - sleeves, chest, back) is knitted to its exact dimensions (as opposed to knitting fabric roles and cutting out the panels). It’s a more expensive technique, but it results in zero fabric waste and a flatter seams for a nicer finish. The dyed cones are placed on flatbed knitting machines, where hundreds of needles work to knit together the individual panels — four for all sweaters, except the Roll Neck that needs a fifth for the neck.
Finally, the panels are linked and finished in Korba, Tunisia - an amicable facility with 30 years of experience and a strong community. When linking, the connecting edges of each panel are placed on a linking machine, where every single loop is hooked to a needle - by hand. Then, in a semi-automatic manoeuvre, the machine links the parts together. The garments then undergo a washing program which softens the handfeel as well as sets and shrinks the garment to its correct proportions.
Finally, manual quality checks are performed by independent controllers and the ASKET team before the lot is shipped to our German warehouse.
FROM OMEO, AUSTRALIA TO STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN
Celebrating the unraveling of the story behind our Merino wool items and the enormous amount of craftsmanship that goes into creating these pieces, we’ve created a photo series in collaboration with Nils Emil and Therese Öhrvall. By juxtaposing the raw origins of our farm in Omeo, Australia with urban Stockholm landscapes, we hope to help us all connect the dots between the origin and the use of our clothing - considering their stories and truly appreciating the value inherent in every garment