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What Is Sherpa? (A Super Cozy Guide)

During the winter, you've probably seen people wearing sherpa jackets and sweaters. Characterized by its soft, wooly texture, sherpa is soft-to-the-touch, aesthetically pleasing and comfortable. Best of all, it manages to recreate that fuzzy sheepskin feel without using any actual animal fur. You might even see this wool-like material on upholstery and home decor. Let's take a closer look at what sherpa is, its benefits and the unique things you can accomplish with it.

What Is Sherpa?

Sherpa fabric gets its name from a group of Tibetan people who inhabit mountains in Nepal. Due to the cold temperatures, the Sherpa often dress in warm, wool-lined attire. Other people became intrigued by this soft, comfortable material, and it wasn't long before sherpa fabric took off.

Although sherpa fabric was inspired by clothing worn by the Sherpa, there's one major difference – the Sherpa use real sheepskin, while sherpa fabric does not. It's generally made of synthetic yarns and features two sides: a soft, piled-up wooly side and a smooth, flat, knitted side. Put these together, and you get the cozy, fuzzy sherpa found in coats, blankets and upholstery today.

What Is The History of Sherpa Fabric?

While the Sherpa people have been around for centuries, the synthetic sherpa fabric wasn't created until the 1970s. Its success can be largely accredited to Collins & Aikman, a fabric company that decided to imitate wool and see what would happen.

Sherpa fabric was received well when it was initially released, but it took a few more decades for it to really gain popularity. In the 1990s, the famed denim company Levi's decided to use sherpa to line some of its jackets, a move that gave the material new life.

How Is Sherpa Made?

Sherpa is made by twisting yarn into a fleece fabric. Then, a wire brush is used to crimp the material and create a more textured, wooly appearance. There are a few different substances that can be used to forge the fabric, such as the following:

  • Polyesters
  • Acrylic fiber
  • Cotton
  • Blended fibers (such as cotton and polyester)

To make sherpa even more sustainable, many manufacturers rely on plant-based polyesters. Unlike synthetic polyster (which is created using fossil fuels), this version is made with plant fibers.

Why Should I Choose Sherpa?

An increasing number of people are looking for sustainable, environmentally friendly clothing and decor options that are high-quality, comfortable and good-looking. Thus, it's no surprise that sherpa has escalated in popularity in recent years. Here are some of its leading benefits:

  • Aesthetically pleasing: Not only is this soft, fluffy material comfortable, but it's also stylish. Sometimes, manufacturers will add unique patterns and designs to the flat, knitted side.
  • Lightweight: Because of its textured, wooly appearance, many people falsely assume that sherpa is heavy. In reality, this material is lightweight and breathable (which is why it's often used to make baby and children's blankets).
  • Longevity: The high-quality fibers, coupled with the durable dual sides, give sherpa a long lifespan. Provided you clean and wash it correctly, you'll enjoy a sherpa blanket or clothing item for years to come.
  • Easy to clean: One of the biggest advantages of sherpa is that it's easy to maintain. Many sherpa blankets and clothes can be cleaned with cold water and mild detergent.
  • Animal friendly: If you like the soft, fuzzy feel of wool, but don't want to use animal products, sherpa is the way to go. It emulates the unique look and appearance of wool while remaining animal and environmentally friendly.
  • Heat retention properties: Sherpa is often used for blankets and coats due to its ability to retain warmth. As an added bonus, it protects against moisture by drying quickly.

Thanks to its aesthetic and practical benefits, sherpa can be found in everything from boots and jackets to throws and furniture coverings.

What Can I Do With Sherpa?

While sherpa was originally designed to keep people warm, its usage has grown over time. Here are just a few ways you can take advantage of this versatile material:

  • Jackets and sweaters: Considering its fuzzy feel and heat retention abilities, it's no surprise that sherpa is frequently found in coats, sweaters and other winter-wear.
  • Hats and mittens: If you're looking for ways to stay warm, consider investing in sherpa hats and gloves. Not only are these clothing items cozy, but they also look stylish.
  • Boots and slippers: Thanks to its soft, comfortable nature, many shoe manufacturers use sherpa to line winter boots, home slippers and even sneakers and slip-ons.
  • Sweatpants and pajamas: While sherpa is commonly associated with winter clothing, its soft feel makes it an excellent leisure item. Many people enjoy wearing sherpa sweatpants or pajamas at home.
  • Blankets and throws: The unique appearance and texture of sherpa is used for more than just clothing. You can find this special material in blankets, throws and pillows.
  • Furniture upholstery: Sherpa isn't just comfortable to wear – it's also nice to sit on. You'll discover it on all types of furniture, from armchairs and sofas to ottomans and office chairs.
From lining soft, warm winter jackets to creating unique furniture items, there's no shortage of uses when it comes to sherpa. The only downside is that the wool can get tangled or come out – however, as long as you follow proper cleaning guidelines, there's no reason why your sherpa item shouldn't last long.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Articles featuring tips and advice are intended for educational purposes and only as general recommendations. Always practice personal discretion when using and caring for furniture, decor and related items.