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Discussion, Description, History of WeatherWool
Our garments are 100% wool.
Our wool is, of course, 100% virgin (never used before) and 100% American.
We purchase America's Best Wool from ranchers we know.
We use only the Best Parts of the Best Fleeces.
Wow, it has been a long road. When we first decided to make our own woolens, we thought it would take us a year to get to market. Instead, it took 3 years just to get our FullWeight Fabric right. Thanks for your patience.
In addition to testing our wool, we have of course also been testing our designs, and we expect to continue not only developing additional garments but also designing new ones. Our line is now mature so the pace of development and modification has slowed a great deal, but we’ll never stop trying to improve.
We're offering quite a few different pieces now, and we have developed a MidWeight Fabric too. Eventually, we might even offer SummerWeight wool, if it proves to be durable enough, but that is down the road. We are continuing to work on designs for women. We have offered these for quite a while already and even sold some of our prototypes but because so few of our customers are women, these pieces tend to be made almost as custom-items. We are hoping to change that now with our Women's Design Group. We would love to have the participation of as many women as possible.
Over the years we have made many changes based on our own tests and your suggestions. We did a Blog for a long time, but it's not clear that was worth the effort. Mainly, we post on Instagram now ... a few times a week. We also update Facebook regularly. Not sure what will become of the Blog. We are happy to post input, ideas, pictures from our customers and Advisors. You can phone or write us directly at any time of course, and we’ll be glad to hear from you!
Our fabrics are 100% wool -- no cotton, no fillers, no synthetics. Most of the other woolens out there, even the premium names, use cotton warp (the long threads running thru the entire length of the fabric bolt). We're using 100% virgin American worsted woolen warp, which is a lot more expensive than cotton, but performance is what we are about and you don't want to be wearing cotton when it gets cold and wet. As they say in the North Country, “Cotton Kills”. The weft fibers (runs cross-wise in a bolt of fabric) in our FullWeight wool are 100% virgin American wool from a few ranches specifically selected by us where the ranchers are growing and breeding Rambouillet and Merino sheep . And even so, we used only about half of the fleece ... only the longest fibers of the longest fleeces are used for WeatherWool. We actually select our wool based on tests measuring about 20 different parameters. (There is a lot more information on our Fabric page.) Then we bid for the wool at auction. We wanted Rambouillet (French Merino) and Merino Wool because it is soft and comfortable on the skin, and we chose these particular flocks because lab-testing showed their fleece is remarkably long and strong and pure, enabling us to create particularly luxurious and comfortable yet tough and weather-tight Fabric.
All of our production is 100% American in materials and workmanship. Every bit of wool and thread, every button, every zipper, and every bit of labor and processing, American. And for that matter, our company is 100% American-owned. For the record, we have wonderful friends in many countries and great memories from our international travels. But we just really want to make a pure American product, so that’s what we decided to do. In practice, tho, in order to make extreme quality, semi-custom garments, we pretty much need to stay close to home anyway. The low-cost overseas manufacturers are not geared to a low-volume, semi-custom, super-quality clothing manufacture. And we have a great deal of interaction with our production people.
Just about all of our costs are direct costs of production. We travel to some industry shows, and of course we’ll be doing a lot of field-testing. What we won’t be doing is spending money on marketing, advertising and staff. Our operation is about as lean as it could possibly be. We operate out of our big old house. We haven't hired any outsiders ... and actually we haven't hired anybody. For the foreseeable future, our payroll will remain at 0. Anyone who has started a business from scratch knows the story. We do use the services of one consultant, Bob Padula out of Minnesota, who is now also a WeatherWool Advisor, available to speak with customers. Bob has been working with sheep since he was a kid, and is one of the world's foremost experts on sheep and wool. On his own sheep farm in Minnesota, Bob raises breeding stock. (Bob and his wife are also raising two wonderful girls, and we really enjoyed spending time with them on their beautiful land. The girls are also raising some super sheep of their own!) We won’t be sponsoring any TV shows. We’ll be putting our money into our product, and will rely on word of mouth for our advertising, at least for a while.
When we originally wrote this paragraph we said we don't want to sell anyone the same garment twice, with the possible exception of the rare people who put 20 years of normal wear into a couple of years of hardcore professional-type use. In practice, though, we have had a number of customers who just wanted two or more of the same garment ... in different colors and/or different sizes and sometimes worn for different purposes. We're out to make a product that lasts, and we hope people will come back, and to buy for their friends and family. That's the kind of repeat business we hope to earn.
We offer four choices of color or pattern:
Drab is a solid color that we developed ourselves. It is similar to the familiar Olive Drab, but we have flattened it out even more by adding some gray. Drab really disappears in a lot of settings. When people see Drab, they usually don't know what color to call it. And we love that.
We are also offering a “camo-camo” pattern called Lynx. We laughingly started referring to Lynx as camo-camo because people who are not camouflage-minded just think Lynx is a very interesting and attractive pattern, and really like it for the look alone. But people who think of camo immediately recognize that Lynx is a tremendous camo pattern.
Black is pretty self-explanatory, although color and garments pros tell us to be careful, that there are lots of different blacks. Black is a funny color tho ... it is actually pretty conspicuous in nature, at least to me. I'm not sure animals see it the way people do tho. It obviously works for the black bears, but a lot of them are not black either. If you are not seeking concealment, Black looks really sharp.
Duff is another color for us. We got the name Duff from the term for the leaf and plant litter on the forest floor. Duff works really well in a lot of settings.
It’s also important to mention that all of our fabric is woven on a Jacquard loom. The specialty of the Jacquard is its ability to weave complex patterns by raising some yarns to the surface and keeping other strands underneath. Our Lynx pattern can only be woven on a Jacquard loom. The Jacquard adds significantly to our costs, and if we simply wanted a plain, solid-color fabric, there would be no need to make our solid colors on the Jacquard. However, the Jacquard creates a 3-dimensional fabric that performs differently than an inexpensive flat-weave garment. The 3-dimensional fabric is much better at repelling precipitation, for example. And if you look closely, even our solid color fabrics do have a subtle pattern because of the Jacquard weave. But also, it is important to us that all of our fabric perform the same in the weather. So regardless of which of our FullWeight colors or patterns you select, performance will not vary.
Lastly, we have developed a MidWeight Fabric, which is about 70% the weight of our FullWeight Fabric. We offer MidWeight garments in both Solid Drab Color and Lynx Pattern.
5 September 2017