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VF Invests in Regenerative Wool

VF Corp. is contributing to a transparent supply chain for regenerative wool.

The Vans, Supreme and The North Face owner made a “significant investment” in the Savory Institute‘s new strategic partnership with New Zealand Merino Company’s ZQRX wool platform, it said last week.

ZQRX, which provides brands with a comprehensive index of hundreds of regenerative farmers, will join Savory’s Land to Market program as a strategic partner. The program’s soil and land assessment methodology tracks soil health and biodiversity on farms and certifies products for more than 70 member brands.

The collaboration enables ZQRX, which scores its farmers based on 15 key performance indicators, to deepen its understanding of farm land impact using Land to Market assessment standards. Those values are designed to shepherd farmers through their regenerative journeys.

As a foundational partner of ZQRX, which launched in 2020, VF Corp vice president of global sustainability Jeannie-Renne-Malone told Sourcing Journal that the company is “committed to advancing regenerative agriculture practices and working in collaboration with our brands to bring this work to life.” The effort will help its Smartwool and Icebreaker wool outdoor apparel brands further relationships with regenerative producers, accelerating the regenerative agriculture industry “by providing more support for farmers, and importantly focus on measuring outcomes.”

“We believe this is key to advancing the sustainability goals of the corporation and our brands, and ultimately provide positive results for people and the planet,” she said.

Icebreaker president Jan Van Mossevelde said the label aims to strengthen ties with ZQRX “and the positive outcomes that we’re able to achieve as a result.” Using the platform to connect with farmers has enabled Icebreaker to ensure that it meet its environmental and ethical standards. Sister brand Smartwool will “continue our quest to manufacture 100-percent climate positive wool,” said president and CEO Jennifer McLaren, who believes the addition of Land to Market standards to the ZQRX framework will help the company drive “forward our sustainability commitments.”

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The Savory Institute and Land to Market will provide wool farmers with training and resources to help them better manage their land, according to the institute’s chief commercial officer, Chris Kerston. Farms can use these tools to improve biodiversity and resilience in the face of extreme weather events. Producers will be able to offer “at-scale regenerative material options to brands” and improve profits, he added.

Megan Meiklejohn, Land to Market’s senior vice president of supply chain innovation, echoed that the “collaborative efforts… will further support farmers in establishing regenerative management and provide them with the tools that they need to drive measurable impact.” The goal, she said, is to get fashion using more regeneratively grown materials.

The partnership will bolster ZQRX’s existing framework, which is “centered around constant improvement,” New Zealand Merino CEO John Brakenridge said. In building new resources for wool growers and brand partners, the organization will be able to “identify tangible actions and areas for betterment, ultimately driving more impactful ecological outcomes.”

Dave Maslen, general manager of markets and sustainability for New Zealand Merino, said the synergy between the “two globally leading programs allows us to create a game-changing movement for our growers, brand partners and consumers worldwide.” The partnership “propels us all another step forward in driving meaningful change,” he told Sourcing Journal.