Loved for their simple elegance, natural hues and quality materials, Untouched World has a story worth telling. We caught up with founder Peri Drysdale to talk sustainability, style, and what it feels like to be the first fashion company in the world to be endorsed by UNESCO.
Combining clothing with a good cause
Untouched World creates beautiful, versatile pieces, designed to last a lifetime. But the label also has the far-reaching goal of raising awareness about important causes.
“Clothing is something that is in the public eye all the time,” says Peri. “It constantly provides an opportunity to tell a story and answer the question…’why?’ Why organic cotton or merino wool? Why worry about the distances travelled, or the pollutants in the fabrics or the waste in the production process?”
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A story of transparency
Untouched World wanted to make sure they could tell the story of their production with pride. “We are able to do quite a lot through our supply chain to make a difference to the planet,” explains Peri. “Like only dealing with suppliers who share the same values we do for example, and considering the total life impact of what we produce, right through to how our team dispose of their banana skins after lunch.”
So just how does the team at Untouched World ensure their products are kind to the environment? They use low-impact, natural materials such as wool and organic cotton, which is sustainably manufactured with gentle dyes. Peri wants the best wool for her clothing. “Our merino is carefully selected, spun and knitted to exacting criteria which we think makes it one of the best fabrics on the planet.” Most of their production is done locally in New Zealand, where labour standards are high.
Some of their production is also done overseas, through projects such as ProjectU – a not-for-profit which empowers disadvantaged women in India. Peri explained that the t-shirts in this range are made by women who were once marginalised and trapped by poverty and prostitution. Every ProjectU Tee purchased help give these women the support they need to take the next step toward freedom.
Untouched World uses the proceeds from their sustainable fashion to support causes they’re passionate about.
“We wanted to do something with our profits that would extend beyond the business,” explains Peri. “We spent two years researching how we could make the most difference in this way and thought that providing programs for young adults based around the idea of leadership for a sustainable future could have a far-reaching effect.”
The Untouched World Charitable Trust has now been running these ground-breaking programs for around 14 years. In 2007 they became the first fashion company in the world to be given permission by UNESCO to carry the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development logo on its labelling. This is a significant recognition of Untouched World’s contribution to sustainability education.
Untouched World has a style that channels the most beautiful elements of our planet, while also aiming to protect and promote them. In the words of Peri herself, “Fashion is a great vehicle for change and inspiration. It is the ultimate chameleon.”
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Images via Untouched World