Where is your knitwear made?

All our knitwear is lovingly created in Portugal at a second-generation, family-owned business called Fatextil. The two brother owners, Francisco and Fernando, run everything on renewable energy through a solar panel array on the roof. Each garment is knitted using 3D Wholegarment® technology that ensures a totally seamless knit. This enhances comfort, makes the garment 100% biodegradable and reduces waste to <1%. Each garment is hand-finished by a small but skilled finishing team, and they are all paid more than fair living wage. Francisco and Fernando pride themselves on the great working conditions and employ mainly people from the surrounding villages.


Are your sheep happy sheep?

Yes! We only work with Sheep Stations that are ZQ certified, meaning they conform to the highest animal welfare standards worldwide. All the sheep are free to roam the vast properties they inhabit, and each station must offer five basic freedoms to the sheep: free to live naturally, free from thirst, free from discomfort, free from distress and free from disease. Ensuring all the sheep are humanely treated, well fed, live natural and have healthy lives, and are not subjected to mulesing. You can read more information about animal welfare here: https://www.discoverzq.com/animal-welfare

Does the shearing process hurt the sheep?

The sheep’s fibre is harvested through a process called shearing. Which is a bit like getting a 'number 4' haircut. Shearers are highly skilled people and pride themselves on the careful handling of the sheep. They leave a good covering of wool on the sheep, to keep them warm. Machine shears are the most popular tool for shearing, as they are fast and efficient, for minimal stress on the animal. Prior to shearing commencing, the farmers work with their shearing contractors and team to ensure that appropriate planning and preparation has taken place to minimise stress. Sheep have been bred for thousands of years to grow wool, therefore shearing is not just about harvesting wool - it's also about keeping the animals comfortable, relieving them from having to endure the hot summer months with a heavy fleece.All our farms are third party audited, including random audits during the shearing season to ensure the high standard of animal welfare is maintained.


Are your sheep mulesed?

We have a strict no mulesing policy, but in any case, mulesing is also prohibited in New Zealand. For those that don’t know, mulesing is a surgical procedure that removes a section of skin from the sheep. It is carried out to reduce the risk of attack by flies (often described as flystrike). Our farmers have adopted integrated strategies to manage the risk of flystrike, without mulesing.


How can you be carbon negative with the transport involved?

We are able to naturally mitigate more CO2 impact than we produce, through working with strongly aligned partners who are committed to having a positive carbon impact. All our manufacturers work with 100% solar electricity, meaning the entire manufacturing stage accounts for only c.0.5kg CO2e. And we source wool only from farms that implement regenerative farming practices, meaning that these farms and their wool is carbon-negative. This net emission profile at farm level far outweighs the negative impact of transport. Transport, if done by ship like we do, is actually a small part of our overall footprint, averaging about +0.6 kg of CO2 impact per sweater (compared to an average of -10.5 kg of CO2 mitigated at farm level). In general, whilst certainly problematic, transport is nowhere near the biggest issue in most fashion supply chains. In our industry, the raw material, production and use stages are areas where you can make the biggest improvements – which is what we aim to do. On top of our naturally positive impact, we also invest 5% of our revenue in biodiversity projects to ensure additional positive impact.


What is regenerative farming?

Regenerative farming is a way of managing the land that results in more CO2e getting taken out of the atmosphere than is emitted through the sheep’s methane output and the daily farm operations. This is achieved through natural plant and soil sequestration that is carefully managed. By implementing rotational grazing practices that make sure the soil and plants get to rest enough that they can grow deep roots that sequester more carbon. In addition, we are also trialling additional practices like seaweed supplements for the sheep. In trial runs, this has cut their methane emissions by about 70%.
This way of managing the land and livestock can ensure that agriculture can becomes part of the solution of the climate crisis, not part of the problem.
Read more here "https://www.4p1000.org/" 

What is your 5% Impact Program?

We invest 5% of our revenue into The Impact Program. A fund that supports projects that improve our collective futures. Each project is carefully chosen to address both social and environmental dimensions, and is signed off by a panel of climate crisis experts. We select projects across 3 areas: Nature, Science & Humans. Our Nature projects are focused on biodiversity efforts, our Science projects on material science R&D and our Humans projects on community and personal development activations. We also invest directly onto the farms we work with, to ensure additional improvements within our own supply chain. All our projects aim to address most of the UN’s sustainable development goals. Including Climate Action, Life on Land, Gender Equality, No Poverty, Reduced Inequalities and Clean Water and Sanitation.


What is considered in your carbon footprint calculations?

The short answer is everything. We perform a comprehensive Lifecycle Assessment (LCA) for each garment, which takes into account raw materials, manufacturing, transport, packaging and end of life. As we don’t want to obfuscate any impact at any stage of the business. All the calculations are independently performed and validated by Carbon Footprint Ltd. to ensure impartial third party accountability.


How do I wash/care for my knit?

The good news is that Merino wool products require very little washing as they have self-cleaning properties due to the keratin in the wool that breaks down bacteria. When the time does come to give your sweater a clean, we recommend gently hand washing in cold water using wool friendly washing liquids or a bio detergent, as some machines are quite aggressive (even on wool programmes). So there is no need to dry clean!


Do you track any of my personal information with the tag?

No, we don’t track anything! When you first get the tag you just need to enable your location settings so it allows you to draw a line of connection between your current location and your sheep. Apart from that we don’t track anything.


Why do you include a sheep?

It's our way of bringing us back in touch with the origins of our garments - in an industry that is remarkably void of any transparency (over 80% of fashion companies don’t know where their garments’ raw materials come from). This lack of transparency means we are no longer aware of the stories behind the things we buy. We include a sheep as a reminder that every garment started somewhere. In the case of our knitwear, it started on a field in New Zealand’s High Country.


Will you send me a real sheep?

No, don’t worry! You will be connected with a real sheep, but it’s pretty happy roaming around the New Zealand High Country. And you will be able to keep careful (digital) track of it through accessing the tag.


What is the fit like and how do I choose the right size?

We style for a relaxed fit. And if you’re not sure of the right size for you, there's a handy size guide and chart on the shop page of each product, just above the size selector. Select your height, weight and we’ll help you find the right size.


What is the For-Life Guarantee?

Our sweaters are designed and crafted to last —with a little bit of care, your sweater should remain a permanent part of your wardrobe for many, many years to come. To give you extra comfort, each sweater is covered under a for-life guarantee that covers damages from normal wear and tear, faulty material or poor workmanship. Should your sweater ever need mending or maintenance, you can send it back to us and we will restore it to the best of our abilities. For life. That’s not only good for you, but also for the environment. By wearing our garments longer, we reduce the need to buy new clothes and thereby reduce our carbon footprint. It is currently estimated that, in the UK, the average lifetime for an item of clothing is 2.2 years and the average number of times a garment is worn has decreased by 36% compared to 15 years ago. So Sheep Inc. set a goal to design garments to last for generations.


Why New Zealand farms? Why not EU or UK farms?

When we started looking for our wool provider, we endeavoured to find the right mix of sustainability and quality. To that end, we work with three farms in New Zealand that are at the forefront of the regenerative farming movement and can offer the highest quality Merino wool. The fibre sourced from these farms offers a combination of a naturally technically brilliant performance, supreme softness and a high degree of durability.

And the reason that this quality is unique to certain regions like the South Island of New Zealand is due to the high degree of climate variety. Harsh winters and hot summers have meant the sheep have an evolved fibre that is very good at temperature regulating. This wool quality simply isn’t available in EU or UK due to the more temperate climate.

In addition, and as counter intuitive as it sounds, it is far more sustainable to source wool from the farms we do in New Zealand. Even if you take transport into account. As the New Zealand farms we source from adopt such innovative land management practices. Meaning they sequester far more CO2 per kg of wool than a UK/EU equivalent farm. All in all, transport only makes up a relatively small part of the footprint, +0.6kg of CO2 per KG of wool. Compared to the positive impact of -10.5kg of CO2 sequestration happening on farm. That being said, we are always open to changing our supplier should UK or EU farms catch up on both quality and sustainability credentials.

What Biodiversity projects do you support?

Our fund aims to support projects that improve our collective futures. Each project is carefully chosen to address both social and environmental dimensions, and is signed off by a panel of climate crisis experts. The current projects we have invested in focus on fixing some of the adverse impact of the fashion & agriculture industries. We have currently invested in 2 projects that are REDD+ certified, through our biodiversity partners, Natural Capital Partners: The first project is The Meru and Nanyuki community regeneration project based in the foothills of Mount Kenya. The second, is a reforestation project in the Acre Amazonian Rainforest in Brazil.

Through these projects, we have been able to mitigate almost 5 millions kg of C02 since our launch in November 2019.  And between them, these two projects directly address 15 out of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals including: No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Gender Equality, Good Health & Wellbeing, and Reduced Inequalities.

We also work with our carefully selected farms on critical on-farm activities to protect the local carefully balanced biodiversity. For example Lake Hawea Station has several bio diversity projects including the Western Grand Skink Lizard protection (the last population in the wild), the Clutha Flathead Galaxid protection (Second rarest fish in NZ) and protecting some nesting habitat for the Native Flacon (estimated 3000 breeding pairs left or a rare Cypress Hebe (one of only two stands left in the wild). 

Why is wool’s environmental impact badly rated on the Higgs Index?

The Higgs index takes an average impact of the farming industry and only measures the cradle to gate impact of fibres. It is true that the agriculture industry is a huge contributor to the climate crisis. However not all farms are created equal. By working with specific farms that focus on regenerative farming practices, like we do, you can not only minimise the impact but have a positive impact. In addition, our Merino wool is 100% biodegradable. This is the “gate to grave” impact that the Higgs index doesn’t take into account. With synthetic fibres contributing a huge portion to textile waste. Due to the wool’s biodegradability there is no lasting impact on the planet. If you put it into the ground it is gone within 6-12 months. Whereas most synthetic fibres never degrade and remain waste in the ground. 

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The Knitwear Journey.*
We design knitwear that reconnects us. That makes us more aware of the journey. That tells us the full story of the people and impact behind the things we wear.
*Worried about the amount of counties? Don’t Panic. Transport and travel is less than 1% of our overall carbon footprint.