Why Is Merino Wool So Expensive? (Explained)

Merino wool is widely regarded to be the most premium version of wool. Sheared from Merino sheep, this type of wool is warm, comfortable, and luxe in feeling. But these great things come at a price – Merino wool is quite costly.

In this article, you will get to know in detail about the reasons for the high cost of merino wool garments. But if you are looking for a short answer, here it is.

Why is merino wool so expensive?

Merino wool is expensive because of the amount of time, labor, and costs that go into its manufacturing. Add to that an increased demand and low supply to satisfy that demand, and the reasons behind the high cost of merino wool become pretty clear.

Why Is Merino Wool So Costly?

money, dollars

There are a couple of reasons for the popularity of merino wool, and they all contribute to increasing its costs.

Lack Of Supply Compared To Other Wools

Merino wool is derived from merino sheep, and their population numbers are much lesser than regular sheep. The truth is that there isn’t that much merino wool available, especially when you compare it to other fabrics that are widely available such as cotton.

Although the supply is low, the demand for merino wool is rising year after year, with multiple reports and studies showing the same.

Now, if you paid some attention during the economics class at school, you would know that when supply goes down and demand goes up, the price of the good increases. This is the exact thing that is happening with merino wool.

Smaller Size, Increased Effort And Costs

Merino wool is a really fine fabric. Its thickness is less than 20 microns, and that’s what makes merino wool be soft and not itchy.

This smaller size is one of the main reasons that merino wool is sought after more. Due to the small size, a lot of time and care is needed for making yarns from merino, and this only increases throughout the chain of production.

This increased effort and time results in an increased cost of production. And as with all other goods, an increase in the cost of production leads to an increase in the final cost of the good. Thus, all these factors contribute to the high costs of merino wool.

Why is Wool so expensive?

There are several reasons why wool can be expensive.

  1. Production costs: Raising sheep and maintaining them can be costly, especially if farmers are using humane and environmentally-friendly practices. Additionally, shearing the sheep and processing the wool into usable fibers can add to the cost of production.
  2. Labor-intensive: The process of turning raw wool into usable fibers is labor-intensive, and involves washing, carding, spinning, and weaving the wool. This can add to the cost of the final product.
  3. Rarity: Some types of wool are rarer than others, such as cashmere, angora and qiviut. These types of wool require specific breeds of animals and certain geographic regions. As such, they tend to be more expensive than more common types of wool such as merino.
  4. Quality: High-quality wool is more expensive than lower quality wool. The fibers are longer, finer, and stronger which makes the final product stronger, more durable and with better insulation properties.
  5. Brand reputation: Some woolen products are considered luxury item and the brand reputation and heritage can raise the price.
  6. Taxes and import/export regulations: Finally, taxes, tariffs and regulations for wool can vary by country, and these costs can be passed on to the consumer, making the final price of the wool product higher.

Overall, wool is a natural, renewable, and biodegradable resource that’s produced through time-honored traditional methods and can be expensive, but it’s often worth the investment because of its durability, warmth, and breathability.

Is Merino Wool Actually Expensive?

Merino wool is quite costly when you purchase it, but over time, these sweaters prove to be quite inexpensive.

Not sure what I mean? Let me break it down for you.

Let’s say that you buy a high-quality merino wool sweater for $100. Now, you wear this sweater for five years. And this is an estimate on the lower end, merino wool garments can last much longer than that.

And let’s say that you wear this sweater 9 months of the year (merino can also be worn in the summer); once a week. That means you would wear this particular sweater over 180 times! That is a per-wear cost of around $0.50!

Through this example, I just wanted to tell you that merino wool sweaters and coats aren’t that expensive once you think about the per-wear cost. In most cases, they come out to be cheaper than other materials due to their durability and longevity.

Add to that the fact merino is also one of the most common not-itchy varieties of wool, and its increased price seems justified.

Where To Find Cheap Merino Wool?

Although merino wool garments are usually on the pricey side, you can still find them for pretty cheap if you shop smart.

Most big brands (think Icebreaker and Smartwool) tend to have a sale after the end of the winter season to clear their stocks. If you shop during these sales, you can get quality merino wool sweaters for 50% less than the selling price.

Then there are also some other brands that tend to offer merino wool clothing at cut-throat prices. Here’s four of my favorite places to buy merino wool for cheap:

  1. Moosejaw
  2. REI
  3. Steep and Cheap
  4. Overstock

There are also some other websites like Gearscan that people seem to love, but since I haven’t bought anything from them (yet), I can’t really recommend other brands to you.

Is Merino Wool Worth The Price?

Merino wool is definitely worth the price. It keeps you very warm and tends to last for years. When you factor in the longevity of merino wool garments, there is no doubt that merino wool is definitely worth it.

Now, it’s important to be objective, so I will tell you what I mean by “worth it” here. For me, an item is “worth it” when it provides me more value than what I paid for it. This increase in value can also be considered synonymous with Return on Investment or ROI for short.

For me, merino wool is definitely worth it because the price I pay for it is quite less when compared to the value it is going to provide me by making me look stylish and warm at the same time for the next few years.

If this is also what you are looking for from your clothing, think no more. Merino wool is just the thing for you.

Final Remarks

The factors that contribute to the high prices of merino wool are:

  1. Amount of time taken for sheep to grow enough hair so that they can be sheared.
  2. High demand and low supply.
  3. Intesive labor usage in merino wool production.
  4. High costs of procuring wool.

But I still think that buying merino wool is worth it. It is going to last you long, keep you warm, and make you look stylish.

And that’s literally all I want from my clothes.