The scene at Stella McCartney’s Pre-Fall 2014 presentation on Monday may have boasted bold-faced names like Liv Tyler, Parker Posey, Alec Baldwin, Susan Sarandon, and Patti Smith, but the true star of the show—at least, in our opinion—was sustainability. Not only did the British designer ply her collection with copious swathes of organic fabric, shoes with biodegradable rubber soles, and purses made from vegetable-oil-based faux Nappa, but she also incorporated the results of her sustainable wool partnership with the Nature Conservancy and network Ovis XXI.
PREVIOUSLY ON ECOUTERRE: Stella McCartney’s Latest Bag is Made From the Wool of Her Own Sheep
The environmental nonprofit and the Argentine rancher network have been working to restore 15 million acres of grasslands in Patagonia in South America by implementing a sustainable sheep-grazing protocol designed to reverse over 100 years of overgrazing. Unsustainable grazing has transformed millions of acres of once-pristine wilderness into desert-like wastelands incapable of supporting ranching or native wildlife.
The Nature Conservancy and Ovis XXI have been working to restore 15 million acres of grasslands in Patagonia.
By buying into the program, designers like McCartney are helping to promote grazing techniques that buttress, rather than ravage, the region’s long-term health.
Stella McCartney isn’t the only major brand to provide a market incentive for ranchers to adopt healthier grazing practices. Last fall, Patagonia—that is, the outdoor-apparel company—began incorporating the wool into all of its merino base-layer styles, including its socks.
“Patagonia’s baselayers are our flagship product and the first step in layering for a successful day outdoors. Our Merino 2 is designed for staying warm in cool to cold conditions while our Merino 3 is perfect for the coldest days,” Jill Dumain, director of environmental strategy with Patagonia, said in January 2013. “And now people can feel good knowing that by wearing these products they are contributing to the regeneration of the Patagonian grasslands. We have often sought to be sustainable but this is the first time we have actually been able to improve an environment by placing business there.”