I stay active with my kids outdoors all year round, rain or shine, but I'm not really a cold-weather person. Since I get cold really easily good gear is key to my comfort and over the years I've mastered the art of layering clothes to get through winter without too much misery. I've worn a lot of different synthetic base layers, but once I tried merino wool I never went back - it's absorbent, warm and excellent at regulating body temperature. Plus, I'm all about natural materials. So when Sofee & Lenee, a mom-operated business in California, gave me the opportunity to try out one of their organic wool/silk blend undergarments from Hocosa of Switzerland I jumped on it. And I found that there's a lot to love about it.
What's To Love?:What's to love?
- The combination of wool and silk makes the shirt truly soft and lightweight.
- The materials are natural and organic.
- The garment is manufactured in an environmentally and socially responsible way.
- The design is attractive and makes the shirt extremely versatile.
- Wool and silk garments can be finicky to care for and should be washed in cold water only, or they may shrink.
The long underwear from Hocosa is made from 70 percent wool and 30 percent silk, which are both natural materials. In addition, the garments are certified organic. Since the base layer is in direct contact with the skin, it's nice to know that they were manufactured without the use of toxic chemicals or heavy metals.
What I really like about the Hocosa shirt is that the v-neck design makes it feel less like long underwear and more like a regular long-sleeved shirt that can be worn on its own. And the attractive design doesn't take away from the functionality - I stayed warm and dry while wearing the shirt hiking, skiing and playing with the kids in the backyard. It's softer and more lightweight than other wool undergarments that I own, yet noticeably warm. The only drawback that I've found is that you have to be careful to wash the Hocosa garments in cold water only, since it may shrink in warm water. Although the shirt can be washed in the machine, hand washing it in cold water would probably render the best long-term results. If you don't do a lot of laundry in cold water, this can be an inconvenience.
Hocosa is certified by GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard), which is the leading processing standard for textiles made from organic fibers. The certification means that Hocosa meets strict criteria for protecting the environment and its workers throughout the whole supply chain. It also ensures that the sheep are well cared for - an important factor for an animal lover like myself.
Textile production in general is energy intensive, but Hocosa is doing a lot to minimize its carbon footprint. Aside from the GOTS-certification, all products are BEST-certified by the International Association of Natural Textile Industry. This is considered the quality seal with the most stringent sustainability requirements for ecological textile production. However, shipping the Hocosa garments from Switzerland to the US does cause some additional carbon emissions.
Hocosa's certifications mean that the company has to monitor and minimize waste production, and that staff is trained to conserve water and energy. None of the packaging material contains PVC and all paper and cardboard used for packaging must be sourced from recycled materials or wood that was harvested in accordance with sustainable forestry principles. The fact that wool absorbs odor also means that it needs washed less often than garments made of cotton or synthetic materials, which saves water.
At $68 the Hocosa undergarment is competitively priced, especially for an organic and responsibly manufactured product. It's also an extremely functional garment, as it helps people like me (i.e. people who despise the cold) get outside rain or shine.