A fortuitous seating at a wool grower's dinner in Sydney several years ago, saw Tasmanian Midlands superfine wool grower, Simon Cameron, seated next to Matt Jensen, owner of Australian menswear brand M.J Bale. Mr Jensen could see exciting possibilities for the product of Mr Cameron's farm, Kingston.
In 2017, M.J. Bale launched the "Kingston Collection," a line of suits made exclusively from Kingston farm wool, and signed a five-year agreement with the hope to eventually produce carbon-neutral suits.
Fast forward to today and the goal is within reach.
Kingston, a carbon positive accredited wool growing farm, has teamed up with local seaweed producer, Sea Forest. Sea Forest produces eco-friendly seaweed called asparagopsis that is fed to the sheep as a dietary supplement and dramatically reduces the animal's methane emissions.
In 2021 Kingston farm produced 105 kilograms of carbon neutral wool from 48 of its sheep in the Sea Forest trial, 35 kilograms of which was transported the 200 kilometres to Hobart by bicycle, piloted by sailor/adventurer Grant Maddock.
This year, boats were loaded with carbon neutral wool and sailed from Constitution Dock in Hobart, across Bass Strait and to the 102-year-old Riversdale Mill in Geelong, Victoria.
Following the successful trip, the wool will now be processed into top, spun and then hand-knitted into prototype knits in regional Australia, in a process expected to take up to four months.
"I have spent my life dedicated to identifying solutions to our environmental problems and have followed the M.J. Bale story with great interest as the company is at the forefront of the fashion industry in combating climate change," Mr Maddock said.
"Partnerships with industry are key to us healing the environment and I am proud to be part of the solution being put forward by M.J. Bale, Sea Forest and Kingston."
Founder and Chief Executive Officer of M.J. Bale, Mr Matt Jensen, said "Our world first trial of the zero-emission woollen products is a major step forward for the global fashion industry. This journey is also intent on revitalizing the Australian wool processing and manufacturing industry, seeing whether we can create a supply chain for our products entirely in Australia.
"We expect to be selling zero-emission clothing through our 70 stores across Australia, the majority of which are already green-energy powered, and we have now offset our entire carbon footprint."
The remaining Kingston zero-emission wool grown from the Sea Forest seaweed will be shipped to one of Europe's oldest and most sustainable weavers in Biella, Italy, Vitale Barberis Canonico, to weave the Super 150s worsted cloth to made into an anticipated 250 limited edition blazers at M.J. Bale's tailoring atelier in the Iwate Prefecture, Japan