What is Sherpa?

Sherpa is a fabric made from polyester, acrylic, or cotton and is sometimes called ‘faux shearling,’ named for its resemblance to the wool-lined clothing worn by the Sherpa people of Nepal. Sherpa mimics the bumpy texture of sheep’s wool. The faux-sheepskin fabric is often used to line coats or jackets because it performs wonderfully in freezing temperatures. The dense pile of the lightweight material insulates against the cold without bulk, for a high-performance alternative to fur or sheepskin. Sherpa is also used for blankets, mittens, hats, boots, and slippers.

Sherpa-lined outerwear has surged in popularity, favored for its modern features, cold-weather performance, and vintage style cues. Faux-shearling is more affordable than sheepskin, but quality is still important. A poorly constructed sherpa jacket may become matted or pill with use.

Is Sherpa Warm?

On its own, sherpa would not make a warm jacket—the wind would cut right through. But a cotton, denim, or microsuede outer shell, paired with a stitched or bonded sherpa lining, creates a tough, windproof option that insulates against the cold.

Nor is sherpa just for outerwear. Your canine companion will gladly snuggle up with a sherpa fleece dog blanket or in his dog bed. He will love the cozy softness, and you’ll appreciate how easy it is to wash.

While some cry that faux just isn’t the same, science fiction fans have been talking about the shearling-like trench coat Ryan Gosling’s ‘Officer K’ wore in in Blade Runner 2049. Costume designers created a sherpa-lined cotton coat, then laminated and painted it—resulting in faux-shearling that looks like the real deal. This animal-free sherpa coat stayed true to the dire future imagined in the novel by Philip K. Dick.

Benefits of Sherpa

  • Synthetic material is easy to clean
  • The loft makes sherpa-lined products incredibly warm.
  • Can insulate better than shearling, without the weight or bulk
  • Wicks moisture and dries quickly
  • It’s less expensive than shearling products.
  • Mimics the look of wool, but does not use animal products

Shearling has stood the test of time, but sherpa has made a name for itself as a cold-weather champion. There is a shearling or sherpa coat for every taste. From rugged, ready-to-work coats to luxurious, fashionable jackets, both shearling and sherpa can take on the bitter chill of winter. Sherpa and shearling are smart options for warmth and style, built to last.