Would you like some merino wool?
Italian designer Loro Piana said the 93 kg (205 lb) bale measured 11.8 microns, compared with the average Australian merino wool which measures 20-21 microns. Superfine wool is defined as 19.5 microns or finer per strand. A micron measures one millionth of a meter.
Loro Piana said it bought the bale from the Highlander Partnership, a fine-wool project in the Snowy Mountains region of New South Wales state, for A$232,500 ($174,800) or A$2,500 a kilogram — 357 times the normal market price for wool.
“The achievement is truly exceptional insofar as the average fineness of an Australian bale (of which 5 million are sold every year) is generally 20-21 microns, and only 5 percent go below 17 microns,” the Italian company said in a statement.
In 2004, the Highlander Partnership flock produced a 91 kg bale of wool measuring 11.8 microns. Loro Piana uses the wool to make suits that sell for up to A$15,000.
The special flock is kept mostly indoors in small groups and listens to music, including Italian opera and recordings of Italian singer Andrea Bocelli.
Each sheep is shorn once a year and the flock is fed a secret diet of grains and specially grown hay, based on advice from a sheep nutritionist.