Barons uses third-party verification to calculate the CO2 footprint of each of the new ”Gen4” shirt
Founder and CEO Joachim Latocha shares his insights from five years of work with the Danish specialist and more on the patented weaving technique for increased stretchability, without using synthetic fibres.
22 Feb 2022

A few years ago, while working on mergers and acquisitions at Deloitte, Joachim Latocha knew the high requirements a business shirt should meet but couldn’t find a brand that made a concept simple enough, eliminating the struggles of finding new shirts, and made it direct to consumer. So, he decided to create his own.

— With Barons, we aim to make life a bit more simple, he explains. We are not a fashion brand and never will be. We don’t do seasonal collections and we let other brands focus on seasonal items like prints and patterns. Internally we have a shared goal to become ’the shirt industry’s version of Patagonia’, combining functionality, for example in the form of crease-resistance, durability, and comfort with sustainability.

This week, the company launches their new shirt line, called Gen4.

— We’re switching entirely to organic extra-long-staple (ELS) cotton as our only raw material. Most shirt brands avoid the discussion of organic or conventional cotton because sourcing organic ELS cotton is both expensive and difficult. It simply takes more effort and the availability is scarce, as it accounts for less than 0,1% of cotton produced worldwide, Latocha tells.

— Sourcing cotton directly at its origin, he continues, has been a longtime dream. But it was also a long and costly process, from sourcing the organic extra-long-staple Giza cotton directly in Egypt, to ginning, spinning, and weaving — all done locally — and at the same time making sure we have full traceability throughout the manufacturing process. In addition, we want to show what can be achieved without the use of plastic synthetic fibres and instead work on finding other ways to improve comfort. So, we have implemented a new patented weaving technique called Natural Stretch to our Gen4 shirts, which has increased the shirt’s stretchability by 15%.

Joachim Latocha in Egypt.

For this new launch, Barons also joined forces with Copenhagen-based climate impact consultancy firm Climaider for the second time, to get third-party verification and input to their model calculating their CO2 footprint of each shirt.

— We used the Cradle to Consumer methodology, removing assumptions about washing methods. Since we have an extremely transparent supply chain with Gen4, we know exactly the route from raw cotton to the end consumer — something which is extremely rare in our business. We mapped the specific transport routes as, in the textile business, the product often travels through six to seven countries before ending up in the final warehouse. In every country, there is a process that should be taken into account in order to calculate the carbon footprint. The result of our calculations was quite mind-blowing. We reduced our carbon footprint by nearly 50% compared to our former generation of shirts with the majority of the impact being a result of using 100% organic ELS cotton. At the same time, our transport distances were reduced by almost 15.000 km…

— We will continue to work with them to help us identify potential improvement opportunities, for instance by exploring where installing renewable energy, solar, will have the greatest impact. Knowing this, we can work with our suppliers and manufacturers to find the next reductions.

Do you think that this kind of verification will become more common to use for your industry colleagues in the future?

— We hope to encourage all fashion companies to show their numbers. The footprint process is doable without going to the ends of the world to do so. There are already so many certifications out there. Some good, others bad. And impossible for the consumer to understand. A number, however, is much easier to grasp. That’s why we let the consumer decide for themselves if they think 3kg CO2 for our new Gen4 shirt is good or not. But also considering the fashion industry as a whole, given the current status where 10% of the CO2 emission comes from the textile industry. Therefore this type of footprint information can help both brands and consumers make informed decisions, and make more brands in fashion take greater responsibility. Greater knowledge of one’s CO2 footprint is a basic prerequisite for anyone to be able to optimize in the future, Latocha tells, continuing,

— The best way is really to have a look at the whitepaper released with the calculations. Making shirts will always require materials, processing, and transportation. But we can do a lot to reduce the footprint of the shirt. In the future, we will further focus on optimizing even the smallest components such as buttons, sewing thread, and wrapping. We will also continue to focus on increasing the share of renewable energy sources at our subcontractors. The whole purpose of the collaboration like this one with Climaider is to gain insight into each shirt’s CO2 footprint. This is where the journey begins, which enables us to reduce emissions in our future generations of shirts.

In cooperation with Danish analysis company Moos-Bjerre, Barons conducted a survey to find out more about the Danish consumer in regards to their consumption behaviour and ideals when it comes to clothing and the environment, Bastian Lind, partner and CMO at the brand, tells.

— It showed that 60% of Danish consumers would like to choose more climate-neutral clothing, every fourth person will actually pay more for it — but in reality, they just don’t do it. Or, only about 10% does. It is quite fair actually, people live busy lives, and navigating climate-friendly products is complex. So it is up to the companies to drive the change by making products that first of all match the consumer’s needs and expectations, but doing it in the best possible way. This way choosing climate-friendly products becomes a no brainer for the consumer, he says.

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