As you know by now, it starts with felt.
We see felt in a unique way - as a 360 degree medium. If knowledge is power, then I guess you could say we have a lot of “felt power”, which is one of the pillars of what is now Graf Lantz. It leads us to create the unlikely products that have become part of our story, and the stories of kindred spirits around the world, like yourself.
There are many kinds of felt. At Graf Lantz, we are only interested in the world’s best kind, merino wool felt, and we use it exclusively in all our felt products. Being the world’s best felt requires a combination of two specific factors: a singular Bavarian technique and an ultra-fine wool fiber from a specific breed of sheep called merino. The merino fibers we choose to use are the thinnest, strongest, and most elastic of all wool varieties. Nature has optimized merino fibers for thermal protection, water resistance, and antimicrobial properties. When individual fibers with those qualities work together in the millions, interesting things begin to happen.
Properties that promise:
- All Natural
- Not An Allergen
- Soft to the Touch
- Naturally Odor Resistant
- Stain Resistant
When we started out, we thought we knew felt...
Then we started working with Merino felt and realized we knew exactly nothing. We just knew we’d found something exciting, and timely. The tip off was how it didn’t feel like other felts we’d been seeing. It didn’t act like them either. We dug into why. What we’ve learned since built a company.
For a long time felt was an obscure textile. We want people to know why we work with it. The short story is unmatched quality. The best wool sweater, scarf, suit, or throw that you ever owned, loved, or coveted was most likely made of Merino. Its the go to for luxury woolens. While sharing the same softness of rare wools like Cashmere and Alpaca, Merino’s extra-versatility comes from its unequaled fiber strength. That’s why it’s used in everything from cutting edge sport textiles to wool fabrics that keep dry and cool you in the heat of summer.
What makes Merino wool the best?
Wool evolved to regulate the exchange of heat and moisture that kept the little sheep cozy and dry in all seasons. But Merino upped the game by making a super thin, incredibly resilient fiber with evenly spaced crimps. The crimping is the key to felt. It allows permanent flexibility and also just happens to be the perfect mechanism for interlocking fibers and keeping them locked. That’s what makes Merino felt a tough, long lasting fabric that always returns to form and never pills.
The best is worth it. We use Merino Felt exclusively because it is the best felt made and we have all of it made exclusively at two factories in Bavaria where they have been perfecting it for over 100 years. We use OEKO-TEX® dyes for all our felts making sure they are non-toxic and free of harmful chemicals.
Take a closer look at the benefits of Merino wool felt:
1. Wicking that works
Nature knows what it’s doing. Water does not hurt felt. In fact, wool is the most hydrophilic of fibers. Felt can absorb up to 30% moisture and still feel dry to the touch. First, merino felt quickly absorbs moisture away from the surface and into the body of the felt. Then, through a natural process called wicking, moisture is continuously drawn outward along the fibers where it turns to vapor in the tiny air spaces created in the felting process (more on that below). From there is a short trip back to the surface where it evaporates away.
2. Stain and dirt resistant
Our merino fibers are sealed in the dying process to create a natural barrier against stains. Fortunately, most common stains are actually not stains at all, they are residue that has become trapped between the fine merino fibers as water moisture is pulled away by wicking. No problem, spot cleaning is easy. With a simple mix of warm water, light detergent and a little massaging, the trapped residue lifts and washes away with a thorough rinse. Remove excess moisture with an absorbent towel, lay flat and let the natural wicking process do its thing till dry. Here’s more on how to care for your felt products.
Our merino fibers are extra curly and spring-like. When you put a lot of them all together and interlock the curls tightly, you get a strong, lightweight felt. But here’s what’s most fascinating: merino felt is classed as a lightweight textile because much of its bulk is actually empty space. Yep, it’s true. The irregular spring-like shape of the curls prevents individual fibers from aligning too closely. The separation creates a lot of empty space in between, which means, the more empty space, the lighter the textile. All without losing structure or strength.
4. Strong and durable
We chose felt as our signature textile for its simple, natural beauty and endless utility. With millions of years in the test labs of nature, it’s not surprising that many tech fabrics are modeled after the natural benefits and attributes of merino fibers. Their tensile strength and spring-like flexibility give felt unmatched strength. It can be fully bent 20,000 times before failing. Merino wool felt can take temperatures up to 450ºF for long periods without damage and they are impervious to cold. The fibers are also completely water-safe and clean easily. They take on rich saturated color while maintaining a natural antibacterial coating, they can even neutralize formaldehyde (your body will thank you). The list goes on – literally, keep reading.
5. Soft and scratch-free
Many types of wool are itchy, we don’t use those. That’s because some wools fibers are so course the cut ends actually poke the skin causing itchiness. The secret to merino’s soft touch is simple: the thinner the fiber, the softer the felt. The average diameter of merino fibers makes them naturally flexible allowing them to softly bend and give way when they come against the skin.
6. Odor resistant
Merino wool is known and prized for its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. The thin waxy coating on wool fiber contains fatty acids that naturally inhibit the growth of mold, mildew, and bacteria. This means that woolen items do not need regular washing and will remain fresh after repeated use, unlike many synthetic fibers.
7. Sustainable and renewable
Merino wool is rapidly renewable, biodegradable, recyclable and can be produced naturally with minimal negative impact. But all that is just half the story. Sustainability is about more than where things come from. It’s also about where it goes, its purpose, and how it stands the test of time. Things built to last do not require constant replacements. Less is more.
8. Oeko-Tex® natural, non-toxic dyes.
It’s more than just the rich beauty and saturated color, it’s what goes into it. Oeko-Tex®natural dyes are the forefront of natural sustainable color technology. All Graf Lantz felt is certified to Oeko-Tex® International standards. No toxins, no residue, no odor, no yuck. No worries!
9. No Pilling!
Nothing says low quality felt like pilling. Graf Lantz merino felt does not pill. That’s because the fibers we use are very long. Felted fibers don’t separate easily in the first place, but longer fibers hold everything together over a much broader area preventing migration. No migration, no loose fibers, no pilling.
10. Great for all season weather
A common perception for felt is that of a winter-only textile, that’s understandable. When most people think of wool they usually stop at big, heavy, warm, itchy sweaters. But not so fast, 10 out of 10 merino sheep would strongly disagree. The points above show how felt is tough and adaptable with utility in every season. Obviously, a felt wedding dress in August might be a bad call. But for just about any other purpose felt does its job well no matter the weather.
Courtesy of The Woolmark Company: The Woolmark Company has created a suite of fact sheets, explaining the science behind wool's naturally inherent benefits along with the fiber's impact on the environment.
Worried about cleaning and care? Don't.
Functionality is at the core of what we do, so you can rest assure that all Graf Lantz materials are very, very low maintenance (we choose them for a reason).