Regenerative Agriculture for Fashion

Fashion consumers are increasingly becoming inclined towards sustainable fashion. This trend requires designers, product developers, merchandisers and buyers to decide on sustainable origin materials. Regenerative agriculture provides a solution.

Source: Gaertringen/Pixabay

Regenerative agriculture is a system of farming principles and practices that seeks to rehabilitate and enhance the farm’s entire ecosystem by placing a heavy premium on soil health, with attention also paid to water management, fertilizer use, and more.

 You may wonder how is this different from organic farming? Organic farming is a prescriptive standard for agricultural production. On the other hand, Regenerative agriculture is about principles, not practices. Regenerative agriculture is output driven. In addition to omitting chemicals, regenerative agriculture replenishes and strengthens the plants, the soil, and the nature around it.

While one sees rows upon rows of a single crop in a typical farm, in a regenerative farm, one would see multiple corps planted strategically next to each other, helping each other grow and nourish. For example, on a cotton farm, one may find snap peas planted as a cover crop that provides more shade and helps retain water and grow more microbiomes. Regenerative farms also implement pollinator strips of crops to attract bees and butterflies. In addition, farmers add trap crops to divert pests, reducing the need for chemical pesticides. Regenerative farms mimic nature.

Regenerative agriculture helps meet emerging industry guidance – Greenhouse Gas Protocol, the Science-Based Targets, Net Zero Standard and Convention for Biological diversity. Regenerative farms if implemented the world over has the capability to sink all the carbon in our atmosphere. With regenerative agriculture, the fashion industry can help revive the earth through the process of making clothes. Recently, brands like Kering ( owner of Gucci, Saint Laurent and other brands) and J Crew have pushed for regenerative agriculture. Patagonia is also supporting regenerative cotton farmers with a pilot program in India. Merino company, Allbirds, Icebreaker and Smartwool have joined hands to create a platform for regenerative wool. The fashion industry is moving towards a fundamentally new economic paradigm and reconfiguring its business model. An acceleration of the change is of the essence.

Published by Utkarsh Majmudar

Utkarsh Majmudar is a Fellow, IIM Ahmedabad and a professional with experience encompassing academics and administration at top business schools in India (IIM Lucknow, IIM Udaipur, and IIM Bangalore) and working with large corporations. His interest areas include corporate finance and CSR.

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