A group of Riverina farmers may soon be able to claim the prestige of being responsible for making Gucci and Saint Laurent.
Up to 10 farmers across the region have joined a coalition of eco-farmers stretching from South Australia to Queensland.
The Land To Market group, spearheaded by Cootamundra’s Chris Main and Stockinbingal Tony Hill, has recently caught the eye of internationally-renowned French designers at the Kering Group.
On Monday, representatives of the company met with farmers in Bungadore and Braidwood to begin the process of sourcing sustainable materials for their fashion empire.
Under the proposed agreement, the $10 billion Euro company will source much of its raw materials – primarily wool, but later hides and leather too – from Australia’s Land To Market ready sustainable producers.
“It’s fantastic that they’ve reached out to us. It shows they understand the great work our members are doing in regenerating the land,” said Mr Main.
Since 2016, the national coalition of farmers has been devising its system of sustainability verification based on the ongoing measurement of soil health.
“It involves working with the landscape, increasing its biodiversity, its green growth all year round, increasing its water and energy cycling, its solar capture and its soil health,” said Mr Main.
The baseline measurements have only just been conducted, with the first tests scheduled for later this year.
“[Kering Group] is already focused on Australian suppliers, that [relationship] is already pretty strong,” said Tony Hill.
“We’re one of the more advanced [groups of eco-farmers], and we’ve got access to 35 members who are committed to sustainable farming,” said Mr Hill.
“It’s very positive, they’ve been explaining they want to work worldwide and it’s exciting they’ve decided to come to Australia first.”
Now that the global fashion entity has made movements towards the Land To Market enterprise, more farmers have shown interest.
“It’s a significant brand, in 2017 they had a $10 billion Euro turn over, so this is validation for us as sustainable farmers that they’re wanting to work with us,” he said.
“Interest has grown now that these big businesses have gotten involved, people want to get on board.”