Under the brand name “MerinoFine,” Icebreaker introduced four new products in the month of September. Men’s and women’s T-shirts and pants were among the new items. These were the first garments produced by the company that were made entirely from wool sourced from ZQRX-signed farms.
The Best of Both Worlds: Merino Wool is Durable and Sustainable
When clothing manufacturers want to lessen their impact on the environment, one of the most difficult things they can do is support measurable change at the level of material sourcing.
Raw materials are the initial component of any product that will eventually be manufactured. Merino wool, which gets its name from the breed of sheep it comes from, has been used extensively in the outdoor industry for a very long time.
In addition to being used in socks and base layers, this durable and temperature-regulating fiber is also used in other products.
“Regenerative” has become a buzzword in material sourcing and, more generally, in agriculture as a way for brands to show they support farming and production practices that let nature take its course and harvest materials like merino wool in a more responsible way.
This is because “regenerative” farming and production practices let nature take its course and let materials like Merino wool be harvested.
Because there are no guidelines for the correct usage of the term “regenerative sourcing,” businesses are free to apply it in any way they see fit. This presents a problem.
MerinoFine Releases New Products Made from ZQRX-Signed Wool
According to Jordi Beneyto-Ferre, senior manager of global materials and sustainability at New Zealand-based Icebreaker, “When we started to spread our regenerative culture, we had to raise awareness and help people understand why this choice is better and what regenerative is and isn’t.”
“When we started to spread our regenerative culture, we had to raise awareness and help people understand why this choice is better and what regenerative is and isn’t.”
In September, the performance clothing brand “MerinoFine,” which is made of merino wool, released four new products, including a T-shirt and pants for both men and women.
These were the first garments produced by the company that were made entirely out of wool sourced from ZQRX-signed farms.
The raw materials originate from seventy different farms, each of which employs “regenerative” farming practices and participates in a ZQRX program that monitors the materials from the moment they are harvested until the moment they are sold. A base layer set is scheduled to be released at the end of the month of October.
VF Corporation’s Icebreaker Brand Commits to Regenerative Wool Production
These items range in price from $165 to 360 United States dollars, but they only represent a small portion of what Icebreaker has to offer.
What these clothes do show, however, is the beginning of a shift toward tracking the development of clothing that, in the long run, has a much smaller effect on the environment and uses fewer resources. These clothes are a good example of this shift.
Traditional wool production isn’t as good for biodiversity, clean water, and healthy sheep as regenerative wool production is.
Icebreaker is significant because it is owned by VF Corporation, which also owns The North Face and Vans, two significant lifestyle brands. This makes the scale important.
In addition to their “foundational” partnership with ZQRX, VF made a significant investment in the company earlier in the year.
This will make it easier for the program to communicate with more farmers and sell the raw materials that have been given the regenerative label so that more products can be manufactured for both Icebreaker and Smartwool, which are both owned by VF.
Jeannie Renne-Malone, Vice President of Global Sustainability at VF, has said that “many of our brands are working on regenerative agriculture pilots” to “help people learn more about the benefits of regenerative agriculture and to start making a supply of regenerative raw materials for use in our products.”
ZQRX: The New Zealand Farm Making a Difference
If you want to help farmers improve their lives and their health, buying regenerative wool products, whether as an investment by a business or as a consumer purchasing them off the shelf, is a great way to contribute.
In the 2022 Transparency Report, Icebreaker discussed a New Zealand farm that had successfully transitioned away from some harmful and unnatural methods, such as the use of plastic to keep grass alive, and toward methods that were more in line with natural farming practices.
Because of this, the farm is now able to generate a significant amount of its own electricity and contribute any surplus to the local power grid.
According to Beneyto-Ferre, ZQRX also adds much-needed rules and checks to all of this work in a way that can be understood by people who are not involved in the process.
He says it shows how good it is for the environment and gives numbers to back up his claim.
ZQ farmers are required to enter a variety of information regarding their sheep and the land they farm, as well as agree to have this information verified by a third party as part of the program.
Not only is this information helpful for a large company trying to determine what effect it has, but it is also helpful for farmers who want to know where they stand as growers and where they could improve.
This investment and support of regenerative farming show the next frontier of material sourcing, particularly in the outdoor industry. Even though Icebreaker has always supported responsible wool and clothing production, this investment and support of regenerative farming show it.
Renne-Malone says, “The majority of our emissions are caused by the raw materials that we work with.” “The procurement of materials offers the greatest potential for us to cut down on those emissions, and doing so is integral to the achievement of our business goals.”
Is Regenerative Communication the Next Step?
It’s possible that the next most important step in the regenerative conversation is going to be communication and education.
Both Beneyto-Ferre and Renne-Malone believe that businesses have a duty to teach their customers about the positive effects that these newly developed regenerative products have on the environment, such as how they help reduce carbon emissions and increase biological diversity.
Beneyto-Ferre says that it’s about a lot of different things, but the most important thing is that we’re making nature better. “It’s about a lot of different things,” she says.