We source our wool from a small group of hand-selected farms that have been carefully chosen based on their commitment to animal welfare and environmental stewardship.
We use wool because it is one of the most naturally technical materials in the world. It keeps you warm but it also breathes. It has antibacterial properties so it does not require frequent washing. It is naturally water repellent, fire resistant and is long-lasting.
Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute
We believe that wool can only be truly sustainable if it does no damage to the planet, animals or humans. That’s why we decided to pursue, and were the first in fashion to achieve, Gold-Level Cradle to Cradle Certification for one of our most used wool yarns. To do this, we worked with one of our key knitwear suppliers, who makes more than 79% of our wool knitwear yarns.
The certification looks at five categories – material health, material reutilisation, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship and social fairness.
To achieve the certification, we worked closely with an independent assessor. Together, we focused on optimising our entire wool process, from avoiding the use of pesticides around sheep, to changing the chemistry of dyes, and improving the health, safety and sustainability of the materials.
The Cradle to Cradle Certified Standard drives innovation and positive change for both our brand, and the industry as a whole.
- Achieving Gold level certification
- One of the requirements for Gold level standard is ensuring that a biological material can be returned safely to the environment through the use of safe chemicals. Our biggest challenge was certifying the yarn after the wool arrived at the mill in Italy. The chemicals that mills used to treat wool did not fit Cradle to Cradle Certification standards. We had to work very closely with the mills to ensure them that using safer chemicals is a beneficial change for everyone.
- The results
- Our ambition for Gold level standard has radically changed the way we produce and care for our wool.
- From avoiding pesticides at farms, to the detergents, processing chemicals and the dyes we use, the chemistry we use to treat our wool yarn has been changed by over 70%.
- Wool is a naturally biodegradable fibre, but dyes and finishing chemicals contaminate it. When the wool used in our products eventually decomposes, it contains absolutely no materials that will pollute the environment.
- Water usage in the area of Italy where our mill is located is high. As our chemistry has improved, so has our water usage. Wastewater treatment is in place to degrade molecules that are hazardous to the environment.
- The mill previously operated on 50% renewable power. We offset the remaining non-renewable energy used and have plans to install for renewables in the near future.
The future of wool: Vegan wool
In 2018, we will co-sponsor an exciting prize with PETA for the Biodesign Challenge. This is the first ever PETA Prize for Animal-Free Wool, which encourages college students worldwide to develop biofabricated vegan wool. The challenge will connect design students with biotech professionals to develop new inventions, and the winners from each school will showcase their designs in New York City.