Theory Wants To Create The Most Sustainable Wool Suits In The World

In fact, many clothing manufacturers aren’t even aware of where their wool comes from. Farms around the world sell their wool to middlemen, who combine it and then auction it in global wool markets. Spinners buy the wool to turn it into yarn, then mills buy the yarn to make fabric. Fashion labels then go to annual fabric fairs, where mills display their most recent fabrics. They then buy the materials they need for their next collection, which are shipped to factories, where they are cut and sewn into clothes.

But sheep farming, if not done in a responsible way, can be catastrophic for the environment. Breeding sheep, and cultivating food for them, consumes a lot of natural resources. The animals themselves produce methane, a greenhouse gas. And over-farming can result in soil erosion and degradation. Then there’s the whole issue of animal welfare: Large commercial farms have been known to violently cut off parts of the sheep’s body that attract flies and pests, and maim the animals in the sheering process.

FindingThe Right Suppliers

To ensure that Theory was sourcing responsibly, Waugh went out to investigate how farms operated. After to talking to a lot of people, she eventually found a family-owned farm in Beaufront, Tasmania, that had very high standards when it came to keeping the land healthy and the sheep happy. Waugh had several long conversations with the farm’s current owner, Julian von Vibra, who is a seventh-generation farmer.

“He cares about preserving the land, because it’s his home,” Waugh says. “He also has a program where he teaches shearers how to shear the sheep so it doesn’t harm them.”

Instead of selling the wool through an auction house, the Australian farmer works directly with a mill in Biella, Italy, that has been owned by the same family for three generations. Theory, for its part, works with this mill to create a fabric that combines the Tasmanian wool with elastane, to create the stretchy material that the brand is known for. But Waugh was also drawn to this mill because it is working to make its own business as green as possible. They use solar powered energy to make the fabric and they have a treatment plant that purifies the water, which is important since dyes are used in the manufacturing process.

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