As we settle into 2020 something is definitely noticeable. There is now a surge in brands spouting about their sustainability credentials, but how easy is it to tell them apart and figure out who’s genuinely committed to conscious consumption over the ones spinning a clever marketing line? A good starting off point is to make sense of the many references and terminologies related to sustainable materials and processes. Of course, you can’t be expected to know everything, so don’t overwhelm yourself. Instead, start by making yourself familiar with the most commonly used terms such a Econyl or organic cotton, so you have a better understanding of what they really mean in terms of their sustainability attributes and then build from there.
Image courtesy: South African wool farming | The Savory Institute
It’s about making the connection between brand and land direct and undeniable.
The Savory Institute, a U.S. charitable organisation, facilitates large-scale regeneration of the world’s grasslands through Holistic Management. Together with Savory’s global network of Hubs, the Savory Institute equips farmers and ranchers around the world with education, training, and implementation support to achieve success within their cultural and ecological contexts. The Institute removes barriers and creates enhanced conditions for large-scale progress by informing policy, engaging the marketplace, and increasing public awareness. Savory’s long-term goal is to positively influence the management of 1 billion hectares of grasslands by 2025, thereby contributing to global climate, water and food security.
Further, developed in collaboration with leading scientists and researchers around the world, Ecological Outcome Verification (EOV™) is an empirical and scalable soil and landscape assessment methodology that tracks outcomes in soil health, biodiversity, and ecosystem function and ultimately, the world’s first regenerative supply chain.
Partners include luxury fashion conglomerate Kering and US fashion label Eileen Fisher.
Eileen Fisher is waving a flag for regenerative agriculture. The ethical women’s clothing brand has pledged to combat biodiversity loss, soil degradation and habitat destruction as a “frontier founder” of Savory’s Land to Market program to promote and support the regenerative production of raw materials and utilize Savory’s pioneering methodology, EOV™.
Eileen Fisher is implementing this program initially with their wool sourcing. The brand has been sourcing merino wool with OVIS XXI, a B Corp based in Argentina, that manages a collaborative network of producers that implement EOV. OVIS XXI has played an essential role in the foundation of this global regenerative sourcing program. The leadership at OVIS was instrumental in designing the EOV protocol and the cooperative is now using EOV as the ecological assessment tool with their livestock farmers. The Savory Institute and EILEEN FISHER will spend the next year exploring additional opportunities to expand the shift towards regenerative practices on other continents and into their leather and other fibre supply chains.
Eileen Fisher will include ecologically verified merino across more than 40 styles in their upcoming fall and winter lines. All products made with the verified regenerative Ovis XXI wool, can be identified via the hangtag that reads, “Our wool supports Argentinian ranchers who regenerate depleted grasslands through holistic farming methods.” A similar copy can be found on qualifying products when shopping on the Eileen Fisher website.
“Eileen Fisher is committed to leading the change towards sustainable clothing,” says Megan Meiklejohn, the company’s Sustainable Materials & Transparency Manager. “By sourcing wool from ranchers practising holistic and regenerative land management, we’re supporting more than just a sustainable fibre, we’re supporting whole ecosystem health. Regenerative agriculture results in increased soil fertility and biodiversity, leading to carbon sequestration, drought resistance, and plenty of grass for the sheep to graze. By partnering with Savory, we have the assurance that the Land to Market producers are realizing continuous improvements in ecological health through verified outcomes. We’re proud to be working with Savory and like-minded brands to expand regenerative farming.”
“Cultivating market pull through for those who are farming in nature’s image creates the deepest levels of synergy and exudes positive benefits for society as a whole.” said Chris Kerston, Director of Market Engagement at Savory Institute. “Formalizing a partnership with Eileen Fisher has been nothing short of a dream come true. This is a brand that isn’t simply adapting to meet a new trend; using business as a force for good has been core to the company’s very essence since its formation.”
Kering, the luxury behemoth and parent company of brands including Gucci, Alexander McQueen and Balenciaga, has also joined forces with the environmental non-profit to promote the role of regenerative agriculture within the fashion industry.
The luxury conglomerate has announced that it is now a ‘Frontier Founder’ under Savory’s ‘Land to Market’ program, which works to develop the regenerative agriculture framework in global fashion supply chains, in an effort to reduce the negative impact that the industry has on the environment. This includes reversing the effects of soil degradation and the conversion of natural ecosystems, as well as biodiversity loss. Kering will use The Savory Institute’s ‘Ecological Outcome Verification’ methodology in its leather and fibre supply chains that come from grazing systems, meaning that the brand’s wool and cashmere production will be more sustainable.
“Regenerative agriculture is a multi-benefit solution which supports Kering’s sustainability ambitions to mitigate our environmental impacts and deliver positive outcomes along our supply chain,” said Marie-Claire Daveu, Chief Sustainability Officer and Head of international institutional affairs at Kering, in a statement. “We are proud to collaborate with Savory to pioneer innovative and nature-based solutions in fashion as part of our broader commitment to contribute to solving our industry’s global challenges around biodiversity and climate change.”
This is at the very core of responsible manufacturing, and while some brands may not have the luxury of having these processes at their disposable, the very fact that leading luxury brands are investing in these initiatives should be a call for celebration!