Whether you’re shopping for yourself or someone else, our quick primer on wool will guide you through the differences between merino, lambswool, cashmere and more. Learn where each fiber comes from, what it’s suited for, and just how much comfort it offers.

What is wool, anyway?
Technically, wool is simply any natural fiber that comes from the shorn hair of an animal—any animal. In practice, however, when used as a standalone description, it refers primarily to the fiber obtained from shorn sheep. It is a classic, all-purpose fiber, thanks to its warm-yet-breathable nature.

Traditional Lambswool

Lambswool yarn—as the name implies—comes from a sheep’s first shearing, when the lamb is roughly six or seven months old. Because of the lamb’s youth, the wool that it yields is softer and finer than that of an adult sheep—think of the difference between your hair and a baby’s. It is great for creating extra-soft sweaters—all the warmth of wool, but even softer.

Layer-Perfect Merino Wool

Merino wool comes from a distinct breed of sheep, the Merino, which traces its origins to Spain before spreading throughout Europe and eventually to the United States, Australia and New Zealand. Merino wool is softer and finer than standard wool, making for pieces that are a joy to wear next to the skin without the itchiness that other wool can sometimes bring. It is great for just about everything, from sweaters to socks.

Our Exclusive BrooksTech™ Merino Wool

Created exclusively for Brooks, BrooksTech merino wool improves on nature. This Italian-spun yarn is lightweight, breathable and resistant to wrinkling and pilling. It’s ultra-easy to care for, too—it is machine washable and simply laid flat to dry.

Plush Cashmere

Cashmere is derived from the fine, soft undercoat of cashmere goats. The last word in luxury, it is softer, warmer and lighter than sheep’s wool. It is also much more labor-intensive to create and has a far lower yield—it can take up to two goat’s-worth of fiber to create one sweater! (That certainly explains its high value and lofty status.)