In conversation with Reina Ovinge & Jelle de Jong
The Amsterdam-based fashion brand Scotch & Soda launches a limited-edition unisex Dutch wool cardigan in collaboration with The Knitwit Stable – a small-scale sheep farm and knitting studio located near Amsterdam.
The Knitwit Stable is one of the very few small-scale knitting studios in the Netherlands, committed to reintroducing responsible wool production into the fashion industry. The brand keeps its production process as local as possible and aims to bring the entire supply chain back to the Netherlands on a small professional scale. Which links directly to Scotch & Soda’s sustainability values, starting with a focus on materials. The initiative marks one of the brand’s steps to increase its use of Dutch wool, and by doing so diverting what would otherwise go to waste back into the Scotch & Soda supply chain.
Firstly we spoke with Jelle de Jong – Sustainability Director at Scotch & Soda.
How would you define sustainability yourself?
It’s our obligation to pass on the earth to the next generation in a healthy condition that will last. It starts with taking responsibility and accountability today for each action that can affect the future. Every individual has an important role to play in this, from policies, to companies and consumers.
Why did Scotch & Soda make the decision to move towards a more sustainable business and how did you do that?
We understand the complexity of fashion’s supply chain, and recognize the major concerns about the negative social and environmental effects that the fashion industry has on our planet. We are committed to reducing our environmental impact, and make better decisions every day that support climate protection – starting with a focus on materials.
Our most recent effort is a collaboration with The Knitwit Stable, a small-scale sheep farm and knitting studio near Amsterdam. Together we have created a limited edition unisex cardigan made from Dutch Wool, a material that goes to waste too often. Instead, it is our aim to turn it into a valuable resource by bringing it into our supply chain across future collections.
What are you most proud of in the sustainability process of Scotch & Soda?
The majority of the environmental impact we have as a business occurs in our supply chain, an area known by its complexity. It’s our responsibility to do take steps to minimize our negative impact while running our business. Together with our supply chain partners, some of whom we’ve have a relation with for over 20 years, we are adapting best practices to shift our reliance away from conventional resources onto ones that have a significantly lower impact on the environment.
As a concrete example, starting with Spring 2022, 50% of our collections is made from styles that we consider responsible and made from a material from which at least 50% of the fibre content is organic, recycled or regenerated.
What is the next sustainable step/goal next year for Scotch & Soda?
For us to better understand the extent of what we need to improve across our entire value chain, we have started to fully measure our environmental impact; looking at our carbon emissions, water and air pollution, as well as the waste we generate.
This insight will allow us to formulate goals and objectives for the future. It’s our aim to share a full environmental profit and loss report, based upon a natural capital accounting approach, by the second half of 2022.
Secondly we spoke with Reina Ovinge – Founder and Owner of The Knitwit Stable.
We heard about the Scotch & Soda x The Knitwit Stable collaboration which we are very excited about. How are you guys involved in this project?
Happy to hear it! For the Scotch & Soda limited-edition Dutch wool cardigan, we collected and selected the wool in cooperation with Dutch sheep farmers. The wool was then scoured, combed and the yarn spun in Italy, after which we knitted these beautiful pieces in our knitting studio located in Baambrugge near Amsterdam.
Why did you choose to collaborate with Scotch & Soda? And how did the collaboration come about?
We were approached by Scotch & Soda to work together to create an item made with Dutch wool. So, we decided to collaborate with them as they’re willing to support us long-term with making use of some of the 1.5 million kilos of Dutch wool produced yearly that is currently barely processed or used. It also brings more awareness to the idea that we can and have to start manufacturing locally.
What can we expect from the collaboration?
This week we mark our first collaboration with the launch of a limited-edition unisex cardigan. There will be more to come next year, so stay tuned!
What should happen according to you to let the wool industry grow in the Netherlands? How can we stimulate that?
By entering into partnerships, like the one with Scotch & Soda and other brands, with constant offtake to enable investment. It’s also important to invest in the field of knitting, breeding for finer quality wool, machines and the processing field, such as washing and the spinning of wool, as there is currently no investment in this in the Netherlands.
Why do you think it is important for the wool industry to grow?
To enhance the role of this amazing fibre as a valuable resource! Wool has so many great properties: it regulates humidity, has antibacterial qualities and is completely biodegradable. We think it’s a shame not to make use of such a great resource when there’s an abudance of it in this country, with the amount of sheep we keep.
How do you think this collaboration will affect Scotch & Soda as a brand?
I hope it gives them insight into their own influence in the supply chain by seeing and experiencing how the process works up close. It could also provide internal insight and inspiration on how to create better processes. I also think it will positively affect and impress their customers in the field of sustainability, maybe even inspire them too.
How do you see the future of (Dutch) wool?
I’m optimistic, but it’s not going to be easy. Several decades ago the wool processing industry practically disappeared. So to recover all of that knowledge is going to be a long and difficult road. We think it’s important to inform business professionals and fashion students, so they take processes like these into account when designing and creating. But we’re well on our way!
Launching on November 1st, the limited-edition cardigan will be available on www.scotch-soda.com and in a selection of Scotch & Soda directly operated stores.
Claudia Roerdink & Timotej Letonja