Merino wool, as readers of this column know, is one of my favorite fabrics on the planet. I recently rated the rise of merino base layers as one of the Top Five Innovations in outdoors gear over the past decade. Apparently, many others find merino to be a superior natural breathable/insulating/non-stinky fabric as well. To the point: Two of my longtime favorite merino-wool purveyors, Ibex Outdoor Clothing of Vermont and New Zealand’s Icebreaker, are opening suave urban stores, respectively in Boston and in the SoHo district of Manhattan.
Staking claim as its flagship store, Ibex this week opened its first brick and mortar retail space. In the Back Bay area of Boston on Newbury Street, the store has 1,000 square feet of wool offerings, including Ibex boxer shorts, shirts, base layers, jackets, hats, and biking apparel. “Opening our first retail store and allowing customers to touch and feel our products while engaging with our people is a milestone,” said John Fernsell, founder and CEO of Ibex.
Icebreaker will continue with that same “feel it in person” theme when it opens its “Touch_Lab” store in New York. The store’s address is in SoHo at 102 Wooster Street, between Spring and Prince Streets.
The Icebreaker shop, a 3,500-square-foot space that will open later this year, will be the company’s third in North America. According to Crains New York, which wrote on Icebreaker’s real-estate deal, the Touch_Lab space rents for a pricey $137 per square foot. That’s a lot of sheep fuzz to sell as well as some literal street cred for a fabric few people even knew a decade back.