Luxury That Cares: Why Regenerative Fashion is Making Waves
Last Updated: June 10, 2024By
Luxury That Cares: Why Regenerative Fashion is Making Waves@@@@@

Imagine this: Kendall Roy, the main character in HBO’s “Succession,” is in a dimly lit New York bar. He’s the perfect example of someone with way too much money. He’s telling anyone who will listen that his fancy cashmere sweater is made from wool collected by local herders in Mongolia. He believes regenerative fashion is the future.

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This scene might be fake, but the idea behind it is very real. Quiet luxury, which was huge last year and had Roy as its poster child, isn’t about flashy logos. It’s about quality. It’s about wearing clothes made from materials so special that their origins and how they’re made become a big selling point. So, it’s no wonder that the super-rich are now turning to brands that protect the places where these materials, like cashmere, silk, and cotton, come from.

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Regenerative Fashion: What’s the Big Deal?

In a world that’s getting hotter, what shows off more status than wearing merino wool from a farm that actually helps the environment? Take Nokomai Station in New Zealand. This massive sheep farm lets its sheep roam over 99,000 acres of beautiful, wild land. The wool from these sheep is some of the best in the world. And the farm practices regenerative agriculture, meaning it helps nature by growing plants and keeping the soil healthy. It’s like a perfect postcard scene, so beautiful it looks computer-generated.

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Regenerative fashion isn’t just a fancy idea. It’s been part of the conversation about making fashion more eco-friendly for years. You’ll find it everywhere—from cotton fields in Turkey to hemp farms in China, and even sheep farms in Argentina.

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“There are many brands putting money into these natural material supply chains,” says Jocelyn Wilkinson, from Boston Consulting Group. She co-authored a report in 2023 that found brands investing in regenerative materials could see a profit boost of around 6% after five years.

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Big Brands, Big Moves

Luxury brands like Loro Piana, famous for their £500 cashmere baseball caps, and Brunello Cucinelli, loved by billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos, are all about protecting where their raw materials come from. Zegna, another luxury brand, has even had its own sheep farm in Australia since 2014.

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But just because something is expensive doesn’t mean it’s sustainable. A recent investigation showed that Loro Piana might not treat the herders in its vicuña supply chain very well. This reminds us that taking care of the people who work on the land is just as important as taking care of the land itself.

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Beyond the Ultra-Rich

Regenerative materials aren’t just for the super-rich. Brands like Eileen Fisher, Mara Hoffman, Mother of Pearl, and Another Tomorrow offer more affordable options. Prices range from £95 to over £1,000. Then there are brands like Icebreaker and Smartwool—Nokomai Station only supplies wool to these two—plus Allbirds and Sheep Inc. However, you won’t find regenerative natural fibers at the price of regular high street clothes.

The reason for the high cost? Megan Meiklejoh, from Land to Market, explains, “Everyone in the supply chain wants a premium. That’s usually why they join these programs.” To keep regenerative wool or cotton traceable, it has to be processed in small batches, which is more expensive. Amy Powney from Mother of Pearl says, “If more people order these materials, prices will eventually come down.”

Experts agree we don’t have time to waste. Regenerative techniques need to be adopted widely to help combat climate change.

Looking Ahead

The fashion industry must act quickly to reduce emissions and prevent worse climate outcomes. By the end of the century, with temperatures projected to rise by 3C, not being able to wear a cashmere cap might be the least of our worries. “Many things we take for granted won’t be available,” says Prof Mark Howden from the Australian National University. This includes the supply of natural fibers, whether they’re regenerative or not.

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