Last night, I attended Icebreaker’s TouchLab store launch in Kitsilano. I’d been curious enough to visit the store last weekend as it’s in my neck of the woods, but it was at the event that I learned about the Icebreaker brand (and its products) in detail from CEO Jeremy Moon.
Each piece of clothing sold contains their “miracle fibre”, aka a very soft, breathable, and sustainable material, made from handpicked Merino wool born in New Zealand’s Southern Alps. The store was originally launched in 1994, and became the first company worldwide to develop wool adventure clothing. The Merino wool fibre layering system range will be a perfect match for Vancouver’s inclement weather.
Sustainably-produced Icebreaker Merino regulates body temperature in all climates, is highly breathable, and protects against the sun’s harmful rays. It’s also “no stink”, and is meant to resist odour thus can be worn for days on end without washing. I chose a top from their Ultralite collection, meant for Warm to Hot climates (after all, we should be seeing Spring/Summer weather any day now)!
When I arrived home with my new top, I was drawn to the curious green label attached, with big bold letters prompting me to “trace me”. Each item of sustainable clothing that they sell can be traced back to the farm that grew the wool! Stitched into the top was a Baacode label. I went online, typed in the code and the website generated a series of six station components: environmental ethics, animal welfare, fibre, cleaning, yarn, fabric and sewing.
Subsequently, my shirt had a tale to tell, having been produced in four NZ sheep stations:
“Welcome to Waitangi Station, situated on the northern shores of Lake Aviemore. I am the fourth generation of my family to farm Waitangi with my wife Kerrie (who classes the wool during shearing) and our two sons Tom and Fred, presently at high school. While management practices have changed markedly over the years, the environment still has the last say.” – David Sutton
“Growing up on Glenmore with so much space and freedom was a huge adventure for me. The merinos have lots of freedom too – up the top of the valley, we don’t even have fences; there are natural river boundaries instead. This is a challenging farming environment, but merinos are tough and intelligent and they can handle it. It’s a great place to live.” – Will Murray
“We’re a traditional extensive high country property. We use a range of methods to manage both the country and stock. I received my helicopter licence in 1977 and we’ve been using a helicopter on the farm since the early 1980s. It’s a big property, so it gives you the opportunity to get around it more easily. We still use horses, but in this sort of country a helicopter is a bit like a motorbike is to a dairy farmer. I’ve always liked flying, and it’s been good to be able to incorporate it into my career.” – Hugh Cameron (Otematata Station, South Island, NZ)
“When this land was first settled, the thorny low bushes growing alongside the stream banks made it hard for the Scottish shepherds to get their flocks to water. Because these bushes were so prickly, the shepherds named them ‘Irishman’ – which is why this station is called Irishman Creek. Animal welfare is of over-riding importance in everything we do here. We’re passionate about merino sheep, who we believe have remarkable intelligence, extraordinary memories and fascinating social structures. We are also deeply conscious of our responsibility as land caretakers and the need to farm responsibly and sustainably in this magnificent environment.” – Justin Wills (Irishman Creek Station, South Island, NZ)
You can find Icebreaker at 2089 West 4th Avenue in Kitsilano. Over 2,000 stores in 37 countries carry Icebreaker. This is Icebreaker’s first TouchLab space in Western Canada.