Why icebreaker merino wool?

The original

icebreaker was and still is a merino pioneer. In 1994 we were the first to see the huge potential of this incredible natural material that was not only capable of out performing synthetics and plastics, but was an infinitely better choice for the wellbeing of our planet. The purity of our relationship with nature and our partners is still what differentiates icebreaker as the original and most authentic merino brand.


merino way.

Not only was icebreaker the first company to see the potential of merino, we were the first in the world to establish long-term contracts with our key merino wool growers, based on genuine trust and a mutual concern for animal welfare and protection of the natural environment.


Hand picked - quality control of our fiber

icebreaker merino criteria

Fiber Length

We specify maximum and minimum fiber length. This has been customized according to the yarns and products icebreaker produce.

Fiber Strength

Fiber must be strong. Weak fiber will break during processing and wear, and can cause fabric flaws.


We specify a maximum and minimum fiber diameter to ensure hand feel and softness.

Coefficient of Variation

We also specifiy the maximum variation in fiber diameter to ensure hand feel and softness.


Wool must be very white, with no color flaws as this would impact on the ability to achieve icebreaker’s color palette.

Vegetable Matter

VM can be a problem in processing and can also lead to contamination and issues with fabric and color flaws. We specify a maximum VM content (very low).

Dark Fibers

Dark fibers naturally occur in sheep, but can result in color and fabric flaws. icebreaker specifies very low dark fiber contamination.

Wool Style

It must be the icebreaker ‘style’ of wool. This relates to crimp and the overall structure of the fleece and fiber, and has been customized to the yarns and products we create.

Absence of Flaws

Wool can have all sorts of other flaws, so growers are always on the lookout to remove anything that will impact icebreaker product quality.

The five freedoms of the lambs

Guaranteeing the five key freedoms for our flocks means you can feel happy in the knowledge that the sheep felt just as good making your icebreaker merino as you will wearing it!


Never hungry
or thirsty

Growers ensure that their sheep always have access to clean water and adequate nutrition.


Where sheep
can be sheep

Sheep are free to roam in open pastures, so they can behave naturally with minimal human intervention.


A place
to call home

Growers ensure that their sheep have adequate shade and shelter at all times.


Out of
harm’s way

Growers are required to regularly monitor stock, make sure their sheep never experience unnecessary stress or pain, prevent disease and illness, and rapidly diagnose health issues.


Stress-free sheep

Growers must handle sheep in a way that avoids unnecessary stress and pain. The practice of mulesing is not permitted.

Every year, each merino makes 5 icebreaker garments.

A year in the life of the merino

Navigate right to learn


Sheep are brought to lower country for shearing to relieve them of their heavy winter coats. The ewes are shorn first (before their lambs are born), followed by the hoggets and wethers. Lambing begins.


Merino young and old enjoy warm weather and a plentiful diet. Lambs are weaned from their mothers and drenched (given an oral medication to reduce infection by worms or other parasites). Ewes and wethers are moved to higher country.


Ewes are brought back down to lower country for flushing – providing them with a rich diet prior to mating to positively affect their fertility.


All merino sheep are brought to the most temperate location at lower altitudes where they can get feed supplements and be moved quickly when major storms are predicted.