Back in 2000, I fell in love with Merino. I loved its function, its quality and most of all that nature provided it. And because it came from the land, one day after it had come to the end of its day, it could return to the land too.
I was sold. I still am.
It was my answer to all those petro-chemical base layers out there, which I know from using them, just don’t do what the packaging says they do. (Nice packaging though.)
Around a year ago, we started a project to find out what the footprint of each of our products were.
David Hicks sat in front of a computer collating the data, and also working out what it meant. To find out the truths and not just what we had assumed.
And the truth of it is we didn’t like some of the results.
Moving the production of Merino from New Zealand to Fiji a couple of years ago to save a few pennies had increased our carbon footprint many fold. And we didn’t even know.
What we had not been aware of was that the fibre had gone from New Zealand to China to be made into yarn, then had gone back to New Zealand to be made into fabric. That’s before it even arrived in Fiji. After Fiji had made it into our garments, it was flown back to New Zealand. Then onto LA. Then to London. Then finally to Cardigan.
It was ugly everywhere you looked. It was a bit like finding out your dad swore as a kid. That said, Merino is a truly great product. The best there is. And because we use the highest grade that we can find, ours has a great reputation. And regularly wins the awards against all the big boys.
But how we are making it right now is dumb. It doesn’t fit with our aim to produce the lowest impact clothing that we can. That hurts. But the truth isn’t always what you want it to be. So we have to change. Stop making it in Fiji is the first thing we have to do.
Then we have to work out if it is best to make it New Zealand or actually if the Merino is being turned into yarn in China, whether it is best to make it there. The lesson has been learnt.
We have to look at our footprint as much as the unit price.
The worst CO2 figure in our range is Merino. A long sleeve NBL generates 2.60 kg of CO2 from fibre to delivery in Cardigan, and the product travels 45,809 km in total.
The supply chain is:
Fibre from Southern Alps, NZ.
Goes to China to be made into yarn.
Back to NZ to be made into fabric.
On to Fiji to be cut & sewn.
To the UK via Auckland and LA.
Then London to Cardigan.