Brands based almost entirely on wool — wool sweaters, pants, sneakers, socks, hats, scarves, cardigans, gloves, you name it — are a dime a dozen. Naadam, Quince, Allbirds, Gentleherd... I could keep going. You've probably been served an ad for one of them at least once if you've ever shopped online for a wool sweater. They're largely all new, focused on sustainability and unshy about how they, or the third parties they trust to source their wool, treat their sheep. Good! They should be, but one brand takes it a step further.
Meet Sheep Inc., short for Sheep Included. No, it's not a subscription service that sends you cattle you're then required raise as your own, but rather another wool-derived brand focused on simple, universal designs and lessening their impact on the environment (and those that call it home).
When you buy one of their products, you're delivered a removable NFC tag that connects you a long list of details about where the wool came from, who handled it and how much carbon every step between shearing and it showing up at your front door emits. That same NFC tag — you just tap it to open the page, or scan the QR code if you can't figure it out — lets you "adopt" a free-range sheep at one of the New Zealand farms. You can see it, name it, be notified every time it's sheared and track it as it grazes the highlands. Cool, huh? They do it "because accountability is where change starts," the brand explains.
Like the others I mentioned before, Sheep Inc. is excited about the regenerative nature of wool, but it's their emphasis on the land the sheep graze that separates them. They work with a few New Zealand-based sheep stations specifically because the sheep there live through both extremes weather wise: Hot summers and cold, cold winters.
This makes their wool far superior at temperature regulation than the wool sheared in most of Europe. (But the Merino is also better at wicking moisture, preventing odors and withstanding constant wear.) The stations in New Zealand are eager to innovate, matching Sheep Inc.'s appetite for improvement as well. Trials with seaweed supplements have reduced the sheep's methane output by nearly 70-percent. New grazing patterns have revitalized the land they live off, not only improving their own well-being but the biosphere, too, by improving its natural ability to capture and store carbon, thus eliminating the need for costly, or unnatural, offsetting procedures (like planting non-native trees).
Each garment is also 3D-knit, meaning zero waste — in a solar-powered factory, by the way. Imagine a way to better the supply chain, and the lives of those a part of it, and Sheep Inc.'s probably tried it. No matter how sustainable they are, though, the raw material itself eliminates a percentage of wearers: vegans. (Sending them push notifications when the sheep's being sheared would inspire an animal rights revolution, that's for sure.) But putting you, the wearer, in a position of power, wherein you can check in on the animal itself, is one way — I cannot bring myself to say best — to guarantee fair treatment.