Transcript for How This New Zealand Fabric Is Changing the Athletic Wear Industry
So when you hear high-performance athleticwear, the last thing you might think of is wool. This is not your grandma's itchy sweater. We're talking about overachieving sheep thousand providing the biggest brands from lulu lemon to the north face with a secret ingredient. Still skeptical? So were the marathoners who tried it out. Here's ABC's Sarah Haines. Reporter: Down this dusty mountain road -- is where you'll find mother nature's very own high-tech super fabric factory. The mighty merino sheep. A unique breed prized above all others for a coat so soft, so fine, it's actually redefining how consumers think about wool. And revolutionizing the world of performance athleticwear. So we traveled to lake hawaya station, a farm in New Zealand's southern alps. Bring them on. Reporter: To see where this magic material comes from, and what makes it so special. Come on. Reporter: Tom Rowley is a third-generation sheep farmer. Generally when we get them in the pen like this we like to see what the wool product's like. So we'll open the wool like that. It's like the softest thing in here. It's like -- it's very thick. It's very soft. It's a little crunchy. I would love a pillow made out of that. It makes you understand that you can actually wear this against your skin because the fibers are so fine and soft. Reporter: The thick fibers of Normal wool can be itchy and uncomfortable. But merino wool is much finer, which is odor-reducing quality of their merino products. But a this magic comes at a cost. It's a lot more expensive than a synthetic fiber so it took awhile for people to get hold of the benefits. Reporter: Now that they've caught on, shoppers who no longer fear the itch and have made the switch can snuggle up in cozy merino from head to toe, and yes, everywhere in between. I think of wool, I think of really thick, itchy blankets, I think of sweaters. But you guys make so many different types of products, including underwear. Yeah, exactly. Check it out. You're going to show us. You look at how fine -- of course you can -- how fine that is. I mean, it breathes. It doesn't smell. It doesn't hold odor. It's great for wicking moisture. Not that it's a personal problem for me. Of course not, of course not. We've had people write back to us and say, I wore your product nonstop for 40 days without having a chance to wash it. I was on an expedition through the desert or whatever. That's just fantastic. Reporter: Even though the price tag can be hard to swallow, manufacturers like icebreaker are banking on environmentally conscious consumers spending more for eco-friendly clothes. It's born in nature, worn in nature. We're about connecting people back with the land. Not covering yourself up in synthetics and plastics. For me being able to make it both commercially sustainable and be delivering to the world an environmentally sustainable product, that's special. Reporter: Sales pitch aside, what do potential customers have to say? The concept of running in wool? I'll admit it sounds bonkers. I have heard about merino wool. More as maybe something my mom wears in the winter. Reporter: We asked a group of marathoners from team for kids to test a merino wool tanks mixed with tensile nylon and lycra. It feels like a Jersey t-shirt. The question do is you run in it? Or is it just a relax t-shirt you feel confirm in? Oh, yeah. Extremely light. I'm a little concerned about the texture. I'm hoping -- it feels like something might get softer after a couple of washes. But the synthetics come out of the box ready to go. Reporter: They suit up and they're off. It's definitely a different feel. It is light. It moves and it's airy. Feels like a Jersey tee. It's comfortable. While running, it was loose-fitting. Didn't stick to me per Se. I was pretty happy about that. It's the end of August. New York's hottest and most humid season. It's incredible that I'm standing here talking to you in a wool shirt. It's a little scratchy which I guess you'd expect from a wool-based material. Also feels like something that could get softer after a couple of matches. Reporter: Nature's miracle material, just as at home in the steamy jungle as in remote alpine ledges. I'm why it's soft agayour skin. He Tct funional prop tiz are
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