Disclaimer: These products were provided for review, which is great because they are quite expensive for my tastes. Although, the high price is very justified, as I cover in the article, but be prepared for a bit of sticker shock when you do go looking. Link for Granary Sleeveless Dress here and link for the SS Tee here.
I, like a lot of people, associate clothes made from merino wool with base layers for winter sports, or toques, or mittens; it’s not exactly a summery material. However, PRFO Sports’ icebreaker claims that their merino clothes are summer-ready, so I thought I’d put that claim to the test. Let’s get into it!
- What is Eco-Friendly Fashion and Why is it Important?
- How to Stop Fast Fashion, and the Environmental Cost
- The Benefits of Sustainable Fashion: Ethics and Environment
Some Background, and the icebreaker Brand
Before I start, I need to tell you a bit about the weather between the Great Lakes in the country presently called Canada, where summer comes with the kind of heat where shade barely makes a difference due to the ever-present humidity, and so you sweat until you get into an air-conditioned space or somewhere the wind is blowing, forcefully. With climate change, we’re experiencing even more extreme heat and storms with humidity in the summer, so I was curious to see how the icebreaker clothes would hold up to all that. I ordered their Granary Sleeveless Dress in Astral Blue for myself, and the Merino Linen SS Tee Stripe (Summer/Snow S) for my spouse.
(An aside: if you’re looking for gender-neutral clothing, icebreaker does not have your back. Everything in the catalogue is styled for either women or men, which is disappointing, and some of the styles aren’t even available across this binary: some of the men’s clothes are quite nice, but not available in a cut that would work with my body. Disappoint.
A positive about the site is that it does give you a good legend for which of their fabrics and styles would work for the activity you intend on doing, as well as a good sizing guide, measuring tips and a guide on how to layer icebreaker clothing.)
icebreaker’s tagline is “Move to natural” and their “About” page on their website explains the reasoning behind this: made from all-natural, sustainable merino fleece, their clothes are made for people who are far more Sportish ™ than I; icebreaker states that they “lead a movement towards a more natural way of living by taking unnecessary plastic out of performance apparel.”
The company, though its products are available in over 40 countries, exclusively works with merino sheep herders with whom they have developed a relationship with in New Zealand, and has pages on their site on who these growers are, their supply chain, factories, and even a “transparency report”. Ideologically, I am a fan of their commitment to sustainability in the business, economic, and ecological senses of the word. Still not on board with the way their product is gendered, though; that’s not cool.
icebreaker Clothing review
My first impression was that the Granary Sleeveless is a very good around-the-house dress; comfortable, flowy, and tunic-like.
My second impression was that I no longer possess the sort of figure that is flattered by such a cut, so it is likely to remain mostly an around-the-house dress, though one of exceptional quality.
I love the colour, the texture is soft (not at all scratchy as I had feared), and comes very clean after washing, even after one has, for example, spilled pesto on it.
The dress is very compatible with leggings or bike shorts underneath, and even functions well as the top portion of an outfit when paired with a skirt overtop.
The SS Tee is similarly comfortable and flattering for Partner; it regulates his temperature well as he works from home and is soft (now–it needed a wash, first).
For my part, I have found that the more that I wear the dress, the softer and more comfortable it feels; I had a bit of trepidation at first, as I have associated unbearable scratchiness with wool clothing since childhood, but my fears were quickly dispelled. The dress is quickly becoming my go-to outfit this summer for comfortable wear, and the SS Tee has made its way into regular outfit rotation for Partner.
On that note, Partner does like to bike around town on clear days, and the SS Tee holds up well, wicking sweat and staying comforting throughout Partner’s cycling journeys.
The Granary Sleeveless Dress also stands up to heat well, for my purposes. I am … challenged when it comes to regulating my own body temperature and am always either cold or too hot but have found so far that I only became hot to the point of sweating when I was sitting on a concrete balcony in the full blast of sun on a 26-degree-celcius day while drinking hot tea.
Even then, due to the dress’s sleeveless cut, any sweat that I had was not trapped at all, and I could easily cool down by standing in the breeze.
The dress does not hold up to the hottest and muggiest of summer days though, unfortunately, but hopefully humanity can get its act together so that these days remain pretty few and far between. I’ve found the dress actually is very suited cooler days where the sun is obscured by clouds (or, let’s face it, wildfire smoke) but the humidity is very high.
These damp days call for something soft and warming, but not big or bulky, and the Granary Dress’s simple profile works very well to keep my core temperature up, but not trap the damp on my extremities. Luckily, these days do not come around very often, and so aren’t much of a hindrance to my enjoyment of icebreaker products.
All in all, the icebreaker Granary Sleeveless Dress and Merino Linen SS Tee are perfect for light activity on most summer days, even despite (and perhaps are even uniquely suited for…) strange climate-changed weather.
About the Author
Ariel Kroon is a scholar of crisis (especially as expressed in western post-apocalyptic science fiction), a recovering PhD graduate, a part-time research assistant, thinker of thoughts, and one half of Solarpunk Presents podcast.