As a outlet we are very Eco-Aware and believe that every one can make a difference so we were pretty chuffed to hear M.J. Bale’s announcement last week at Pitti Uomo 97, they announced a new five-year agreement with 116-year-old, conservationist-led Tasmanian Merino wool-growing farm, Kingston. As part of the agreement, which includes the exclusive supply of Kingston superfine 16-micron Merino wool for the brand’s ‘single-source’ suits, blazers and ties, M.J. Bale and Kingston owner, Simon Cameron have committed to a series of Amazing initiatives.
These include the reduction of livestock methane emissions, regenerative agriculture practices and biodiversity preservation. “As a brand built on the highest quality Australian natural fibres, we remain passionately committed to the sustainability and regeneration of the environment,” says M.J. Bale Founder & CEO, Matt Jensen. “We are driven to make this investment in Kingston with owner Simon Cameron, one of the most progressive and ethical wool producers in the world, not just because it’s the right thing for M.J. Bale, but for the health of our natural environment.” “This commitment to Kingston not only allows M.J. Bale direct access to elite superfine Merino wool, but Kingston effectively becomes a laboratory partner for regenerative agriculture programs we’re trialling, such as the pursuit of Carbon Neutral Wool.”
CARBON NEUTRAL WOOL
Published National Greenhouse Accounts reports commissioned by the Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy concluded that methane emissions from ruminant Australian livestock contribute to approximately 10% of total greenhouse gas emissions in Australia. Research published by CSIRO, Australia’s national science research agency, found Asparagopsis taxiformis, a species of red macroalgae, can reduce ruminant livestock methane emissions to almost undetectable levels when fed as a diet supplement.
M.J. Bale’s Carbon Neutral Wool project will begin with a year-long scientific trial at Kingston farm starting February 2020. As part of the trials, CSIRO-certified Asparagopsis taxiformis, grown sustainably by Tasmanian seaweed producer Sea Forest, will be fed to a flock of genetically-matched Kingston sheep as a nutrition supplement. A similarly genetically-matched control flock of sheep will be fed a placebo. “There are a lot of uncertainties involved in this trial,” admits Kingston owner Simon Cameron. “As a superfine woolgrower, I’m curious as to whether the fleece quality and weight will remain in its current premium state.
However, I just think this is something we must try. The outcome has the potential to positively affect not just Australia’s level of agriculture-driven greenhouse gas emissions, but the global environment.” “M.J. Bale’s goal is to become a proactive, regenerative brand and give service to our customer, communities and environment,” adds Matt Jensen. “We see ourselves as custodians of the planet, and we want to contribute to global solutions.”
BIODIVERSITY PRESERVATION COMMITMENT
A percentage from every Kingston garment sold by M.J. Bale will be returned to the farm, considered to be of immense biological and scientific value to Australia, to be reinvested into biodiversity preservation projects. M.J. Bale estimates the contribution, at present production levels, to be up to AUD$500,000 over the course of the next five years. These projects include large-scale tree planting and revegetation, the safeguarding of indigenous grasslands (Kingston is home to 8% of all pre-European grasslands in Tasmania), as well as the preservation of threatened local flora and fauna, including breeding wedge-tailed eagles, platypus, Tasmanian devils and Eastern and Spotted-tailed quolls. Says Simon Cameron: “I see looking after Kingston as primarily biodiversity conservation, and the funds generated through the M.J. Bale – Kingston partnership will directly assist maintaining and enhancing Kingston’s natural values.”
ANIMAL WELFARE AT KINGSTON FARM
Kingston Merino sheep are non-mulesed and enjoy what Simon Cameron calls ‘four freedoms’: freedom from hunger, thirst and malnutrition; freedom from discomfort, pain, injury and disease; freedom to express normal patterns of behaviour; freedom from fear and distress.
Kingston is a member of the Vitale Barberis Canonico Wool Excellence Club, awarded to a handful of woolgrowers that produce elite Merino wool according to high ethical production and shearing practices, showing “responsibility towards people, the land itself and the fruits of the land… those producers who strive to achieve quality in combination with environmental and social sustainability and responsibility.”
M.J. BALE’S KINGSTON SINGLE-SOURCE MERINO WOOL GARMENTS
M.J. Bale launched its first Kingston single-source Merino wool suits in May 2017, created from wool sourced entirely from Kingston farm. The brand has since added to the collection with Kingston ties (March 2019) and a Kingston blazer (November 2019). Kingston superfine Merino wool has an average of 16 microns. The wool is woven into worsted Super 150s cloth at centuries-old Vitale Barberis Canonico in Biella, Italy. Limited edition Kingston single-source suits are created with a high degree of hand-work in M.J. Bale’s tailoring workshop in the Iwate Prefecture, Japan. There are at least 200 separate stages that go into the construction of each Kingston jacket, which are fully canvassed and feature hand-stitched armholes and collars for superior movement and comfort.
This innitative is fantastic from one of Australia’s leading design houses, and will hbopefully lead the way for other brands to follow suit.
Words by Arrnott Olssen