Last month, Kering announced that its entire group—including brands like Gucci, Saint Laurent, and Alexander McQueen—was going carbon neutral. A number of fashion brands have recently started to become more sustainable in recent months, but the truth is that more aggressive measures are becoming necessary as we have less time to fix what we’ve done to the planet.
Enter Sheep Inc., a New Zealand-based fashion brand that has decided carbon neutrality is simply not enough anymore. Launching this month, the label sells high-quality wool sweaters and is the world’s first carbon-negative fashion brand (and also the first to give you a sheep with your purchase).
Sheep Inc. aims to be carbon-negative without sacrificing quality. Their sweaters use 100% Merino wool, which is then hand-spun into yarn and dyed in northern Italy at a mill that employs a number of sustainable practices including sourcing all of its power from renewable energy.
Like other brands going carbon neutral, Sheep Inc. will be carbon offsetting, which is the practice of cutting carbon emissions to counteract the emissions that are unavoidable. To be carbon-negative, the brand is going the much-needed extra mile and offsetting more than it actually emits.
“Because of the urgency of the climate crisis, Sheep Inc. has decided...to offset ten times their emissions,” said Mark Maslin, advisor to Sheep Inc. and the head of climatology at the University College London. The climate expert says there are many misconceptions about carbon offsetting, usually to do with the lack of consumer knowledge, and he stressed that while there are plenty of scammy, inefficient offsetting schemes, properly researched plans are effective. Sheep Inc. is focusing its efforts on the company’s passions and the location of its customer base.
The yarn then travels to Spain, where it goes through a knitting process in a 3D machine before being finished by hand. As a final touch, each sweater has a detail on the back of the neck inspired by smit marks, swipes of paint applied to a sheep’s back that identify their flocks. Each smit mark comprises scrap thread that would otherwise go to waste, and the hand-stitching means each sweater is subtly unique.
The brand’s website is filled with more information than products, fulfilling its promise to be transparent with consumers about the entire process of creation. Each sweater features a tag containing NFC and QR technology, allowing owners who scan it to access a detailed creation journey and carbon footprint information. Along with sustainability, Sheep Inc. is also dedicated to providing the best conditions for the company’s fluffy namesake. The ethical guarantees (freedom from thirst, disease, distress, and confinement) seem basic, but animal rights have a history of taking a backseat to profit.
But what exactly does it mean to get a sheep with your purchase? While you won't be expected to care for a new pet, the company provides updates about a sheep at the farm from which the wool came. According to the website, the company wants to remind consumers that their clothing is coming from a living animal.
The sweaters are completely recyclable and biodegradable, but rest assured they won't disintegrate while you are wearing them. Additionally, the brand promises to invest five percent of its revenue into projects dedicated to protecting biodiversity on the farms, providing yet another concrete reason for you to feel good about your purchase. Get ready for the most sustainable hygge ever this fall and winter.