The greatest proportion of the world’s fine suit, jacket and trouser wools comes from the Merino breed for which Australia has become famous for. For two hundred years Australia has been the major supplier of super-fine Merino wool to the woollen mills of the world for the production of high quality cloth used for bespoke suits and jackets and trousers. The foundation of the Australian Merino wool industry is commonly credited to Captain John Macarthur, who imported Spanish Merino sheep into Australia in the early 1800s. Macarthur’s vision and foresight in recognizing the potential suitability of the Merino sheep to Australia’s harsh, dry environment was his lasting legacy to the Australian wool industry.
From the Spanish Merino sheep imported by Macarthur, four major strains of the Australian Merino have been developed: the Peppin, Saxon, Spanish and South Australian Merino. These strains have been specifically bred over two centuries to best adapt the sheep to the climatic conditions they live in.
The distinct and specific characteristics of the bloodlines that have developed since Macarthur’s time owe much to the expertise and efforts of many generations of Merino breeders. It has been their life’s work to improve the quality of their stock through meticulous flock management, quality control procedures and ram selection.
While the Peppin Merino strain is the most influential in current Australian flocks, it is the Spanish and Saxon Merino that produce wool without peer in terms of its fineness and quality. Today’s fine and super-fine wool sheep have been developed by crossing the Spanish and Saxon breeds and it is these strains of the Spanish Merino that produce cloth of exceptional quality that is to be found in the fashion houses of the world. The Saxon sheep thrives in the cool and wetter parts of the New England area of New South Wales and Tasmania in South-Eastern Australia. Super-fine wool produced from these areas is renowned for its outstanding crimp definition, style, brightness and exceptional staple strength. Hence making the best tailor made suits, luxurious jackets and trousers.