Regenerative farming has seen its most significant traction in the natural food space, but fashion brands are making serious inroads too.
Fashion and farming are more connected than most of us think. When we think of sustainable farming practices, the fashion industry doesn’t immediately spring to mind, however environmentally, it is the most important step in clothing manufacturing. And it’s about time we include this in our mindset.
What is regenerative farming, and what is the impact on fashion? It’s often referred to as the “next wave of sustainable fashion” regenerative agriculture. It’s an ecological approach to farming that enables natural systems such as lands to be renewed and to renew themselves (since industrial farming has messed up most soil). It’s a way of farming that doesn’t harm the environment and that cares for the future—it regenerates and strengthens soil, increase biodiversity, improve water cycles, and generally enhances ecosystem services.
In December, Kering announced a partnership with the Savory Institute, an NGO dedicated to the support of holistic land management and regenerative practices. The goal of the partnership is to help identify and develop a network of farms that Kering can use to source leather and fibres like cashmere, wool and cotton.
“Two thirds of environmental impact takes place at the very beginning of the supply chain at the raw material level,” explains Vallejo on the phone. “We knew that if we wanted to be efficient in reducing our environmental impact, we had to act on that.”
Kering, which is looking to slash its environmental impact 40 percent by 2025, this is a real solution to the negative environmental impact caused by the development of materials used in the fashion industry. For example, regenerative farming principles can convert existing organic cotton farms into fully regenerative ones.
Whilst this sounds like an exciting, full of promise and effective method to address the significant environmental impact of raw materials production, some real challenges exist. Achieving regenerative certification will present an additional cost for farmers, which may be prohibitive. A full cost analysis will need to be carried out to fully assess the viability of this solution – for example, farmers will want to have a brand promising to pay a premium from the outset – to offset the investment necessary to achieve the required environmental certification.