Down under. That’s my birthplace. Merino is my name. Up. Down. Born on the back of a living being, I follow its breathing pattern as I grow; crimping along the way. Up. Down. Tufts of me continue to elongate and wave as I stare out at the seemingly infinite pasture. This creature’s comfort is down to me. What else can cool in an unforgiving climate? Unaware of my value and purity. I am simultaneously one of millions and one in a million. Nothing fazes me. Not the plants that attach themselves to my fine demeanour nor the natural substances that build up around my roots. Together, we are one roaming the hills.
But now comes the start of my lone journey. Taken from my companion, I undergo a number of processes to become what I’m destined to be. Cleansed, processed, spun, dyed. My transformation is a craft. Machines and their masters utilise their skills: knitting, linking and finishing me off. I haven’t seen the light of day for some time. Excitement builds when I feel the sharpness of that label being sewn and the searing heat of that final press. I am ready for another adventure. Where will my next home be? More importantly, what have I become?
My reflection is limitless. Ever-changing. I’m inter-continental. After my separation, I may have been sent to Asia. To rural India where Chanderi weavers create delicate embroidered garments perfect for all seasons. A tradition that I hope will never be lost. You see, that’s where my magic lies. A pre-conception that I’m only to be brandished in the colder months is wrong. Temperature is my partner. We work together to give comfort to our wearer day in, day out. Vibrant colours and geometric shapes are interwoven with my DNA. I bloom from my natural monochrome make-up.
Perhaps Europe was imminent. Britain could have been my destination. Heritage is a familiar word – something I have been a part of since the beginning. From military uniform to Highland tartan, I have endured the ages of time. Man earned a sense of resilience from me. I gave him structure when everything around was crashing down. Primarily masculine, I have been used for the most traditional of suits to the most youthful of knitted jumpers. But a feminine silhouette is emerging. One that drapes the body in all the right places. I can be many things for this modern woman. Strong, elegant, colourful, subtle.
Technicality and creativity would have awaited me in the States. Reminiscent of a chameleon, I blend in with my surrounding materials. A downtown New York studio makes for my resting place while my metamorphosis occurs. Eternally bound to lace and neoprene. Corseted and lacquered for a glossy finish. Changing colour with the heat. In the land of throw-away culture, these techniques show off my many facets. Completely renewable. Technologically advanced. I can educate and exhilarate.
I am a blank canvas. An incomplete art form yearning to be understood. I hold a loving place in society. Playing the role of assistant. Supporting those skills that have passed down from generation to generation. I encourage innovation and provide a livelihood. A challenge. That’s what I present to you. You think you know me but I’m a mirage, hiding my true qualities. My humble beginning belies an ending in the most luxurious of locations. Flashing lights at the end of the catwalk, bustling showrooms, adorning the hanger of my new and final owner. I keep up my magician’s act until the very end. The realisation you’re wearing me may never come. I am Merino wool. This is where I belong.
This text on Wool was written and submitted by Lauren Sharkey for Round 2 of Modeconnect’s International Fashion Writing Competition. Check Lauren’s entry for Round 1: Simon Rocha: femininity redefined