Reshoring Outdoor Clothing
Wool Week is the biggest annual celebration of wool in the UK, running from the 5 - 11 September 2011.
Finisterre, a UK outdoor clothing brand announced, during wool week, that they finally have some fruits of their labour, to keep alive the Bowmont sheep.
Finisterre and very many other outdoor clothing brands are big fans of Merino wool for performance outdoor garments. Most of the Merino wool used in the industry is sourced in Australia and New Zealand. There have been issues in the supply chain of Merino with regard to animal cruelty http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mulesing. Many of the outdoor companies have a statement regarding Mulesing in their environmental policies where by they do not buy from suppliers that engage in such practices. I am sure that this is very well intentioned but Australia is big and a long way away all the good will and certification in the world is only as good as the policing on the ground.
Finisterre made a decision to sourcing an alternative to Australian and New Zealand wool, they have been working with Lesley Prior's and her Bowmont sheep. She now has 100 sheep which is just enough for a season's worth of Finisterre Bowmont Beanies.
It's a great story and serves well to illustrate that if the industry tries very hard alternative supplies of technical fabrics for the outdoor industry could be available from more local sources. It's a drop in the ocean but big things from.....
I wounder if the industry applied the same thinking to recyled polyester, would we see more localised collection of polyester and localised production thereby reduce some of the garment miles that are accrued to producing the lion share of our outdoor clothing.
It's a good question can some of the fabric manufacturing come nearer to home?
An even bigger question is can some of the outdoor garment manufacturing come closer to home?
There is a growing movement in the US to look at the possibilities of reshoring some production to the USA.
This is their declared mission of reshorenow
'The mission of the Reshoring Initiative is to bring good, well-paying manufacturing jobs back to the United States by assisting companies to more accurately assess their total cost of offshoring, and shift collective thinking from ‘offshoring is cheaper’ to ‘local reduces the total cost of ownership.’
There is very little interest in this sort of initiative in the UK outdoor industry at the moment, my quess is that this will change during the next year. Time will tell.