Long before globalization, smuggling a merino sheep out of Spain was punishable by death. Fortunately for those who play outdoors these days, several channels exist for obtaining merino — without losing your head.
Merino wool is well-known in the active outdoor community. At least as far back as the 1950s, winter cycling jerseys, previously mainly produced in Europe, found their way to the U.S. in minute quantities. However, it wasn’t until ski instructors Peter and Patty Duke founded Smartwool in 1994 that merino jumped into the public’s stream of consciousness.
The Dukes were onto a good thing, and others recognized it. Smartwool was eventually purchased by Timberland and then by VF Corp, where it lives on today.
But after their contractual obligations expired, the Dukes founded another brand, Point6. The name is a play on the ideal human body temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, and the brand brought merino pioneers back into the fold. With more than 40 years of experience in sourcing and producing merino fibers, Peter and Patty may well be the godparents of merino.
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