Flocks of sheep were not the white fluffy animals we typically think of today. Instead, sheep were predominately the darker “black” color with a few genetic outliers that were white.
Once wool fibers began to be used in clothing, it was discovered that the fleece from white sheep could be easily dyed to take on a wide variety of hues. This led to the selective breeding of sheep to create flocks that were predominately white, while fleeces from black sheep were discarded. Hence the popularity of the term “black sheep” regarding an unwanted animal.
This “black” wool hasn’t been used — let alone bred — for production. While these fibers aren't truly "black," they are a range of darker browns that are difficult to dye. With prized merino flocks being sought after in white wool that can be dyed, the diversity of black flocks diminished greatly until Loro Piana decided to re-breed an exclusive black flock in New Zealand.
Loro Piana is the exclusive producer of black merino from New Zealand and has worked with a farmer to raise these black sheep in a unique flock that’s brought back the incredible richness of these natural fibers that haven’t been available in this level of quality.
Three categories of fabrics are available at Hall Madden for garments. These fabrics are all completely undyed, using only the natural color of the fleece available. Colors range from a natural “cream” tone to a hearty dark chocolate brown. Fabrics in collections of suiting, blazers and overcoats are available and we love their unique and earthy tones.
First, suiting in open-weave “fresco” style wools with great crease resistance and a dry hand. Plus a series of wonderful rich flannels. Especially of note are the patterned “fresco” weaves — which are quite rare to find — in houndstooth and windowpane.
The blazers mix melange and boucle style weaves into heavier fall-winter weights and also year-round weights that would be business-casual appropriate.
Finally, the overcoats bring a luxurious drape to these natural merinos. While the doeskin brushed fabrics offer a rich hand, the oversized herringbone and houndstooth patterns would make ideal “statement” overcoats for the colder weather.
To see these swatches, we’ve posted them online in galleries for suiting, blazers and overcoats and also have them at our fit studio locations for you to view in person to commission your next garment with us. We think you’ll enjoy wearing these unique fabrics.