Friday, October 03, 2008

A Soybean Sweater?

This fall you can get a sweater made out of wool, cotton, alpaca, llama, or...soybeans?

I just spent some time in windy and chilly Iceland, staying warm with my Marker shell, Teko wool socks, and this strange Soy'r V Sweater from ExOfficio. It's made from 45% soybean, 45% wool, and then a bit of Nylon and Spandex.

What's it feel like? Well, like a nice sweater. Warm, comfy, and soft. It looks good too. Supposedly it's moisture wicking and odor resistant, though I was too cold to test those claims.

I'm never quite sure what to make of this eco-friendly clothing push in the travel gear world, but I usually view these items as a "why not?" choice. The eco-friendly tag is kind of symbolic and done for marketing purposes more than anything most of the time, but a sweater that's 90% biodegradable is certainly better than one that's not at all, even if it does require lots of carbon emissions in the manufacturing and shipping.

The problem with renewable eco-wear comes in when there's a sacrifice. In this case it's not in the comfort or performance, but in the washing. Here are the care instructions: "Dry clean or hand wash cold; No bleach; Dry flat; Iron low setting, no steam; Wash separately." Good god, is this a sweater or an antique bustier from the Renaissance?

Apparently "soy beans" and "washing machine" don't go together very well.

The Soy'r V sweater from ExOfficio comes in three colors and four sizes, listing for 80 bucks.

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