Brand News
Feb 18, 2021

VF Brands Partner on the World’s First Regenerative Wool Platform

icebreaker and Smartwool partner with Allbirds to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in New Zealand

While the global fashion industry is responsible for 10% of annual greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, three global brands have set aside their competitive nature to do something about it. The world’s leading Merino wool apparel and footwear brands icebreaker®, Smartwool® and Allbirds, have partnered to create the world’s first regenerative wool platform, addressing the immediate challenges of climate change.

In February 2021, the trio announced a partnership with The New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) which will build upon the success of NZM’s ethical wool platform, ZQ, to create ZQRX. The ZQRX platform challenges growers to go beyond sustainability and continuously be driven by improvement, to deeply understand the complex interactions between their livestock, soils, climate, ecology and community.

“Our growers have already made strides, over generations, to farm regeneratively,” said Greg Smith, icebreaker Brand President. “ZQRX both honors these steps and provides us a platform to measure, track improvements and push beyond.”

The ZQRX index will be applied to 167 sheep growers in New Zealand, representing 2.4 million acres of land and resulting in carbon being retained and stored in soil and vegetation. Combined, the three brands represent approximately 2 million kgs of wool.

“We know on-farm emissions represent approximately 60% of the emissions associated with woolen products and are our biggest opportunity to lower our impacts,” said John Brakenridge, NZM CEO. “Through the adoption of regenerative practices that both store more carbon and emit less, we could reduce our on-farm emissions to zero.”

“We believe in continual improvement and when you know better, you do better,” says Jen McLaren, Smartwool Brand President. “ZQRX is the next ‘better’ way and an important advancement in moving our industry forward. By working together, we can affect change at scale.”

Known for their trailblazing approach to sustainability, VF brands icebreaker and Smartwool helped found the original ZQ platform 13 years ago, while Allbirds, who also source ZQ ethical wool, will be the first fashion brand to label every item produced with its carbon footprint.

According to Allbirds’ Co-Founder, Tim Brown, “With ZQRX, we are backing a movement towards a truly regenerative future, one that prioritizes the planet and supports our unwavering pursuit to make better things in a better way.”

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