Faded and washed out effects are popular in casual garments but are surprisingly difficult to create in Merino wool which is renowned for its vivid, vibrant and durable colours.
The classic approach to creating the faded look is to simply use pigments which can be bonded to the fibre with binders; these are characterised by poor handle and poor rubbing fastness.
When garments fade during washing they do so unevenly, especially on seams and raised areas, and it is this effect that is reproduced in Vintage Merino wovens.
Alternatives to using pigments include direct or vat dyes which are traditionally used on cotton denim. Recently developed liquid sulphur dyes can now be applied to wool fabrics by coating or printing the woven fabric. The printed fabric can then be made into garments designed to meet machine wash standards of dimensional stability, then washed. Some of the dye is removed during the early stages of garment washing to create the vintage look but the rest of the dye is fixed (under oxidising conditions which render the sulphur dye highly insoluble) and made difficult to remove during normal washing and wearing.
For further information about Merino Vintage Garment Wash contact your local Woolmark Company office.