Sherpa fabric is two-sided, with a smooth knit on one side and a soft, silky pile on the other side. Like all fleece fabrics, the nap on its fuzzy side comes from rubbing with a wire brush. However, sherpa gets its distinct wool-like appearance from crimping the loose fibers after the brushing.
Usually made out of polyester, this fabric is synthetic, though it’s meant to look and feel like “shearling,” which is lambskin with the wool still attached. Like many polyester fabrics, it usually has a cozy, slightly stretchy give to it.
Originally designed to mimic the sheepskin-lined coats traditionally worn by the Sherpa people, an ethnic group who live in a very cold region of Nepal, sherpa fabric is sometimes also called faux-sheepskin or faux-shearling.
Many people value real sheepskin for its long history of warmth and style in many cultures worldwide. Today, though, many people prefer vegan options for their clothing. Sherpa is a perfect balance, providing the warmth and resemblance to the traditional style without harming any animals.
You can find sherpa fabric as a warm lining in winter coats and gloves, blankets, sweatpants, and (because it is so soft) in baby items like baby blankets and snuggies as well.
Occasionally you may see a coat or jacket made out of sherpa fabric. This provides a distinctly sheepskin-like, cowboy-esque look. Usually, though, this fabric features as a soft, woolly lining inside a garment.
Pros and Cons of Sherpa
Here’s a quick recap for you! Sherpa fabric is:
l A cheaper, vegan fabric designed to look like sheepskin
l Just as warm or warmer than actual wool
l Moisture-wicking because of its synthetic fibers
l A popular lining for blankets, animal beds, and coats
l Typically only used as a lining material
l A bit pricier than most other winter fabrics