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The Big Merino: A Guide to the Iconic Italian Wool Mills

31 May, 2022

The king of natural fibres and the gold standard for suiting construction, wool is versatile, comfortable, durable and breathable, as well as thermoregulating (meaning you stay cool when it’s hot, and warm when it’s cold). Importantly, the natural elasticity and softness in the fibre ensures that a suit crafted from wool always drapes elegantly on the body, in a way that other fabrics just can’t. When it comes to wool, InStitchu is woven into the domestic industry - we use Woolmark certified 100% Australian Merino wool, sourced from the most passionate and celebrated Merino farms in the world.


But sourcing the wool is only the first step of the process of turning it into a cloth for suiting. From Australian farms, the wool heads to mills that turn it into long rolls of fabric that can be cut and stitched into suits as we know them. The best wool mills in the world are, and have been for a very long time, in northern Italy. InStitchu works closely with these mills to present a range of fabrics, capturing our Premium and Luxury ranges, encompassing the very best suiting materials in the world.

Have you ever seen the description of fabrics and wondered what all the ‘Super’ nomenclature is all about? Before we dive into some of the key wool mills and their various stories, we thought it would be useful to clarify the categories of wool. When it comes to Woolmark certified 100% Australian Merino wool (the only kind of wool we use) there is a ‘Super’ reference attached to each fabric, representing the fineness of the wool. The higher the count, the finer the wool is. And while it’s generally interpreted that the higher Super count represents a superior wool, there is also a subtle difference in their longevity and value. Super 110s wool is durable and elegant, perfect for everyday wear, while Super 120s is more premium, great for work and special occasions. At the pointy (and more expensive) end, Super 130s offers an exquisite standard of wool that is more delicate in its durability, a good option for special occasions like your wedding suit (or for clothes horses with a range of suits in their weekly rotation).


Vitale Barberis Canonico

Imagine working in a business that’s been in the family for more than 350 years. That’s the reality behind the iconic northern-Italian mill, Vitale Barberis Canonico (or “VBC), founded in 1663, an icon in the tailoring industry and an integral part of the InStitchu premium fabric offering. As the world’s oldest fabric mill, with 13 generations of family members at the helm, there’s an obvious regard to tradition, history and quality, but their view to the future and evolving trends has meant they’ve remained at the forefront of the industry. 


In a centuries-old industry, where some of the Biella mills have been in operation for centuries, Stylbiella is a relative newcomer - founded in 1975 by cloth merchant Piero Perino. Having worked with some of the most celebrated tailors in Italy (and himself designing for some of the leading mills) Perino had an intimate understanding of natural fibres. This experience and understanding has evolved to the point where Stylbiella now create some of the most innovative and fashion-forward fabrics in the world, retaining their focus on quality raw materials but expressing themselves with bold colours, textures and patterns. 


Loro Piana

With roots in Trivero in northern Italy, the Loro Piana family began trading wool in the early 1800s, founding the current company in 1924. Drawing on traditions and state of the art technology, fabrics milled at the esteemed Loro Piana have become synonymous with the ideals of Italian craftsmanship and artisan style - timeless, sophisticated and innovative. InStitchu are proud to offer a range of superbly crafted fabrics milled at Loro Piana as the basis for our custom suits, though we’re particularly fond of their remarkable expression of 100% Australian Merino wool - combining the best wool farmers in the world with Italian traditions in artisan excellence. 


Founded in 1910, the Zegna wool mill is one of the most respected names in luxury fashion, led by four generations of the Zegna family. Located in Piedmont in northern Italy, they celebrate the fact that their local mountain rivers carry purified waters that wash their fabrics and give them a particularly soft finish. Marketing spiel aside, their commitment to quality and tradition is just about unparalleled. The range of Zegna fabrics carried by InStitchu, ready for your next suit or blazer, is a sublime combination of old world classics and modern sophistication.


Fabrics milled at the celebrated Reda in BIella, northern Italy, are synonymous with excellence and quality, as their generational team of artisan textiles experts manage and control the entire production process, from the arriving fleece to the final yarn. The InStitchu range of Reda fabrics capture some of the most exciting and distinct patterns, colours and texture in tailoring, though we’re particularly fond of the way they use Australian Merino wool to craft fabrics destined for old-world custom garments and modern staples.

To explore our range of luxury and premium fabrics, book in for an appointment at one of our Showrooms, or request a free fabric book of some of your favourites - we’ll send them directly to you!

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