The New Zealand exclusive possum merino blend yarn is a growing trend in the local and international fashion markets. The blend is known for its soft touch, warmth and resilience, bringing together the best properties of merino sheep wool and possum fur fibre, two of the warmest natural fibres.
Possum merino garment by Manawatu Knitting Mills - one of
the six main knitters in NZ using possum merino yarn
Merino sheep is one of the oldest sheep breeds in the world and they thrive in some of the coldest and warmest places – in New Zealand they are mostly bred in the South Island high country, which exposes them to temperatures up to 35° in summer and down to -20° in winter. They survive such extreme temperatures because the merino wool keeps them cool during summer isolating them from the heat and allowing their bodies to breathe, and retain warmth during winter.
Possum fur has similar properties, but it is even warmer and lighter than merino because of its hollow core fibre (only polar bears have this kind fibre apart from possums). This makes the possum thread 50% warmer than merino by itself and 35% lighter, as it traps air in its hollow fibres providing warmth without weight. It is also much warmer than cashmere although with similar incredible soft touch.
Possum merino winter wear and possum fur
pieces at Untamed by Basically Bush shop
The combination of the two threads makes for a stretchy, resilient yarn that doesn’t pill easily, is really comfortable to wear, lets the body breathe, offers great insulation, absorbs moisture and doesn’t hold odour (it naturally resists bacteria that cause unpleasant body odours). Such all-round qualities have made the fabric one of the favourite winter clothing for kiwis and visitors. It attracts a lot of tourists’ attention and exports have been growing steadily.
Basically Bush is the biggest possum fur fibre provider
in the possum merino NZ industry
Wearing possum merino garments is great way to support local business and to protect the environment. As possums are not native to New Zealand and cause serious environmental problems, - they damage crops, and eat native bush, trees and birds -, harvesting them helps protecting New Zealand’s unique native fauna and flora, as they have no natural predators. Each year Basically Bush, Untamed’s mother brand, provides fibre from around a million possum pelts to the possum merino industry, which means a million less possum feasting on New Zealand’s environmental richness.
Here in New Zealand the colder months are approaching, so you might want to get your fur scarves, coats and throws out of the closet and ready to use. Fur is quite a resilient material, still it needs a bit of caring to last longer, feel always luxurious and look beautiful.
We know that in the Northern Hemisphere you’ve experienced some very cold weather, and now you’ll be looking forward to spring and about to put your fur garments into storage.
In many Northern Hemisphere countries, there are cold storage vaults for fur pieces, but they tend to be quite expensive and limit spontaneous use – you need to think ahead when you want to use it so you can pick it up. Some fur varieties can benefit from the cold storage but the luxurious possum fur with its hollow fibre is perfect stored in a dry cool place at home.
A fur piece also needs good ventilation. Avoid storing it in plastic bags as they can hold moisture inside and develop mould. Prefer storing your fur piece in a bag made of fabric to allow it to breathe.
Allow some space for your fur piece in your closet. Don’t put other things on top of it as the weight can damage the fur fibres.
Keep your fur piece away from direct heat; preferably storing it in a dry cool place and away from the sun to prevent colour from fading.
Hang coats and scarves on broad-shoulder hangers – preferably padded. Don’t use wire hangers as they can damage your fur piece.
Avoid storing fur with mothballs, insecticides and other scented solutions.
Put perfume and hair spray on yourself before putting your fur scarf or coat on so the fur won’t absorb too much fragrance.
Brush gently your fur piece with a soft bristle brush to remove fluff and keep it untangled.
Shake your fur throws every few months; this will also help to dislodge dust and small particles.
Be careful with earrings, bracelets, brooches and other items that can get tangled and/or rip the fur.
Allow it to ventilate periodically.
Have any small tearing repaired as soon as it happens, to avoid the job becoming too difficult. We suggest that you take your damaged fur piece back to the company who you bought it from. They should be able to repair it for you.
A bit of rain is fine and so is even a bit of snow. Just shake your fur piece to get the excess moisture out and let it dry naturally (do not use a hair drier or put it close to fire as fur could get burnt and/or get smoke smells). If your fur piece has been immersed into water, we advise that you take it to a fur specialist or the company you bought it from. If this happens to an UNTAMED Possum Fur piece it is likely that the damage will be irreparable.
If you spill something (coffee, wine, food) on your fur piece, get a damp cloth and gently run it on top of the fur to remove the excess. Avoid severe rubbing and scrubbing which can damage the fur. Let it dry naturally in the shade.
For bigger or more stubborn stains, it’s recommendable taking your fur piece to a furrier or cleaning specialist. Again, in New Zealand, we suggest that you take it back to the company you bought it from.
Exclusive special treat for UNTAMED Possum Fur pieces: for New Zealand customers, we can refurbish your Possum Fur item annually, free of charge. Just contact us, freight it to us, we’ll do our magic, have it looking like new, and freight it back to you.
The once heated debate about real fur versus fake fur seems to be fading in recent years. Fashion icons, like Prada and Gucci, are back using real fur extensively in their fashion shows, while more and more voices unite to advocate for people’s right to make a well-informed choice when it comes to fashion use of fur. So what’s real about fake fur?
Well, not much. Fake fur is mostly made from polyester or nylon, synthetic textile fibres which are highly poisonous to the environment, as they use great amounts of toxic chemicals in their production and generate some nasty greenhouse gases in the process. They are not biodegradable, like PET bottles, taking hundreds of years to decompose and clogging the already unsustainable landfills when disposed.
Also, the “faux” fur businesses are many times associated with sweatshops – factories with low wage employees working in precarious conditions (unhealthy and dangerous workplaces, over extensive shifts, child labour, etc.) –, another major concern in the globalised world.
At Untamed by Basically Bush, we don’t want to offer only the most beautiful luxurious possum fur throws and other gorgeous possum fur products, we want to do that while looking after our employees and providing a good healthy workplace, as well as take care of the environment by adopting the most sustainable processes possible. We stand in favour of nature, our planet and the future generations, and see real fur products as part of the natural life cycle.
With our team, we manage the entire process from raw material procurement, tanning, dying and manufacture. We only buy fur from responsible possum hunters, our dressing and tanning methods have minimal negative impact on the environment and we are always looking for the best practices to reduce waste, recycle and reuse leftovers.
In New Zealand, harvesting possums also helps controlling the possum population. They were introduced in the country in the 1840’s and only exist in the wild, but as they have no natural predators, the possum population keeps increasing. Approximately 1.7 million possums are harvested annually for the fur fibre and fur skin industry. The NZ Government does still contribute a lot to possum control in order to increase the protection of our native fauna and flora from browsing possums.
All of these aspects make possum fur the most ethical choice when it comes to fur products. So next time you think about buying a fur product, take into account the impact of fake fur, and make a well-informed choice. And for the love of the environment, rethink your consumption, and be real or wear no fur.
We are Sue and Steve Boot, and Untamed by Basically Bush is our brand for top quality possum fur products manufactured at our tannery in the Tararua District, New Zealand (1h45 south of Napier and 2h north of Wellington). We have been in the business for almost 40 years and we love what we do! We are also passionate about New Zealand's amazing and singular flora and fauna and feel pleased to be making a significant contribution to its protection.
Our unique fashion and home décor products are made from the Brushtail possum fur, the only ethical fur choice. Possums were introduced from Australia in the 1840s and only exist in the wild (there are no possum farms in New Zealand) and are considered a pest, as they are predators to our endangered endemic species, like kiwi birds. So by harvesting up to one million possums annually (most going into fur fibre for possum merino knitwear, with 35,000 dressed and made into exquisite fur creations), we help protect NZ native wildlife, while creating a lot of jobs.
At Untamed, the respect for our environment is part of who we are, so we designed our production cycle to have minimal negative impact on nature. We are always looking for alternatives to reduce waste and no reject skins and manufacturing off cuts are wasted. Also, now all our lining is going to be made out of pure wool, making our products even more natural and environmentally friendly.
We are involved in all steps of production, from selecting by hand the very best pelts sourced from a team of dedicated professional hunters to supervising manufacture. Our products range from traditional fur products – classics never go out of fashion – to more modern design, following up closely the international fur trends in fashion and home décor.
We would like to share a bit of our world and our passion for fur, news about our products and business, comments on fur trends, tips on caring for your fur products, home décor ideas and all interesting things happening in the fur world.