There’s denim, there’s selvedge denim. There’s leather, there’s shell cordovan leather. There’s wool, and then, there’s Melton Wool. When it comes to woolen cloth, Melton wool is most amongst the most robust and sought after. Due to its thick, dense weave, Melton wool is often deployed on archetypal naval garments like CPO shirts and peacoats.
But what makes Melton wool so, Melton? To answer that question, we’re taking a moment to shine the spotlight on the mighty Melton and how it got so darn thick.
What is Melton Wool?
Melton wool is a cloth made of wool that’s woven in a twill form. Typically thick and rigid with a fuzzy surface, Melton wool is often used to make more robust, substantial products like outerwear and blankets.
Because of its dense, quasi-felted texture, Melton wool frays minimally or not at all. As well as being super warm, it also has water-wicking properties and is fairly wind resistant, making it the most weatherproof of all woolen cloth.
How Is Melton Wool Made?
Melton wool is heavily ‘fulled’, a wool making process eliminates oils, dirt, and other impurities, and makes it thicker. Fulling involves two processes: scouring and milling. Scouring is a treatment process that removes all wool contaminants like oil and dirt from the fabric, while milling (also known as thickening) increases the thickness and compactness of woven or knitted wool by subjecting it to moisture, heat, and friction. In ancient times, fulling was carried out by the pounding of the woolen cloth with a club, or even with the fuller’s feet or hands.
A Brief History of Melton Wool
The history of Melton wool making goes back centuries in England, Scotland, and Wales. Melton wool was first produced in the Leicestershire town of Melton Mowbray. At the time, this small east-midlands town was the national hotspot for fox-hunting and other outdoor sports. The weatherproof qualities of Melton wool made it the ideal cloth for producing hunting jackets, including the archetypal scarlet and black fox hunting jacket.
Melton Mowbray and its surrounding areas became a hub for wool production, and the recipe for Melton wool spread far and wide across the British Isles. The name Melton wool stuck, though, and that humble little town remains the namesake of one of the toughest fabrics out there to this very day.
Products Featuring Melton Wool
Buzz Rickson’s BR13590 Duffle Coat
Schott NYC Classic Melton Wool Navy Pea Coat