In early December, nonprofit holistic grazing advocate, the Colorado-based Savory Institute, announced a partnership with international luxury fashion group Kering. The aim: to provide the opportunity for Kering’s brands to source their wool, cashmere and leather from farmers and ranchers committed to Savory’s brand of regenerative agricultural practices.
Savory’s Land to Market program already connects the sourcing dots between what it calls “holistically” raised meat and dairy and food brands such as Applegate and protein bar maker Epic. Kering, which owns Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, Gucci and Saint Laurent, among other couture houses, represents Land to Market’s first textile-based collaboration.
“Consumers are really waking up to the fact that both their food and fibers are sourced from the same land, and that either that land is regenerating, or it’s degrading,” says Victoria Keziah, Land to Market’s managing director. “We’re connecting land verified to be regenerating to brands who value responsible sourcing and want to share that story with their customers.”
Savory measures regenerative practices by assessing a farm or ranch’s soil health, biodiversity and ecosystem function. Currently, nine million hectares of land around the world have been certified using this methodology, which Savory calls Ecological Outcome Verification (EOV). How many such EOV-certified hectares will be necessary to meet Kering’s specific fiber-sourcing goals—or even the details of what those goals are—have not yet been announced; “Stay tuned!” writes Helen Crowley, Kering’s head of Sustainable Sourcing Innovation, in an email. However, a joint press release from the two organizations indicates that they’ll be working toward identifying a new network of farms for Kering brands to access. “We’re working toward our 2025 sustainability goals of 100 percent traceability,” says Crowley.
Other players in the $2.5 trillion fashion industry have also committed to sustainable practices that benefit the land and the environment. B-Corp outdoor giant Patagonia, for example, has signed on as a member of Rodale Institute’s Regenerative Organic Alliance, which offers certification to regenerative farms based on soil health, animal welfare and fairness to workers. On a much smaller scale, eight-year-old Fibershed connects California-based farmers and designers—and the spinners, dyers and mill owners who lie between—to create a soil-carbon-beneficial community of land-to-textile producers.
Rebecca Burgess, Fibershed’s founder, sees reason for optimism in the Savory/Kering partnership. “It is such a positive development that a luxury conglomerate is taking an interest in this work,” she writes in an email. However, “The reality is that this level of natural fiber production transformation will require brands, wearers, technical services providers, governments and nonprofits all to increase their focus … to accomplish the necessary transformation of working landscapes and the supply chains that serve them.”
Keziah says Land to Market has been approached by other fashion labels interested in “walking the walk” on regenerative sourcing. But she admits, too, that making an impactful change throughout the supply chain is something “no one brand can accomplish. There has to be a series of innovations around that—but we’re committed to what we can influence, and that’s the regeneration of land through holistic management.”
Ultimately, the measure of Kering/Savory’s success will lie in how quickly the partnership can scale up—and branch out.