Our KIND journey...
Designing beautiful and timeless shoes is at the heart of our business. We recognise that our actions have an impact on the planet and the people in our supply chain. In 2021 we developed our Sustainability Strategy with Unravelled Consultants, outlining our goals towards a kinder future. One year on, and to transparently communicate on our actions, we have developed this Progress Report in conjunction with Go Well Consulting.
We have had many challenges on our KIND journey so far, and although we cannot do everything overnight, we are committed to creating a kinder world, where natural resources are considered, and human rights are upheld in our supply chain.
Sustainability is a vast area, covering everything from climate change, to ethical supply chains, and health and wellbeing. As a small business, our leverage and influence has made it challenging for us to achieve some of our goals, but we will keep working to ensure we are making a positive impact throughout our business operations.
While our sustainability journey is just beginning, we are committed to ‘doing things better’, and constantly educating ourselves, and evolving our products and processes, to reduce our impact on the planet. We recognize the importance of reducing our impact and protecting our planet for future generations and we will strive to educate and change in order to create a kinder world.
You can view the full Kathryn Wilson Sustainability Progress Report here.
KIND TO OUR PLANET
Since 2019, Kathryn Wilson has partnered with CarbonClick, a New Zealand founded and run company, offering businesses opportunities to reduce their carbon emissions through offsetting projects. Through our partnership with CarbonClick, 300+ customers have offset their purchases customers through projects such as reforestation of natural forests and high impact clean energy projects.
To increase our effort in reducing emissions, in 2021 we will be donating $10 of every pair of our KIND collection shoes sold to CarbonClick to help restore and protect New Zealand forests. The donation will be made towards the Kaikoura project, helping to conserve and replant 99 hectares of lush native forest, helping to increase biodiversity and drawing down carbon.
The production of footwear leads to waste at all stages of the supply chain, from leather and fabric offcuts in the factory, to packaging waste once our beautiful shoes have arrived with our customers.
We have taken meaningful action on the areas we can control as a business, such as our packaging and our own operations, and are now working with our partners to measure and eliminate waste in our supply chain.
We’ve recently partnered with Jeff Vollebregt from Upparel, an Auckland based company that turns tyres and footwear into rubber mats. Last year, Jeff has received just over 450kg of shoes and boots and with major corporate contracts starting to kick in, Upparel expects to increase that amount at least five-tenfold in 2023. We’re recycling all our pre-loved shoes and samples and encourage you to do the same.
Samples are a necessary part of our design process. These are made to ensure the materials and fit of our products stands up to our quality expectations. All samples that remain at the end of the season are sold through our quarterly sample sales, or donated to our charity partners, such as NZ Women’s Refuge.
In our own operations, we have implemented more vigorous recycling and waste systems in our head office and stores, and are working to increase our knowledge and educate our staff on ensuring as little waste as possible goes to landfill.
Our Commitments for a Kinder Planet:
- To start measuring our operational carbon emissions by the end of 2022, and to set achievable targets to reduce our impact.
- Work with our suppliers to understand their manufacturing and production methods, to help reduce emissions in the supply chain.
- By the end of 2021, we commit to working with our suppliers to collect and weigh the fabric and leather offcuts from Kathryn Wilson production, in order to monitor waste.
- Work with internal teams and wholesale partners to eliminate the use of airfreight.
- Establish a ‘Sustainability Champion’ in each of our stores to educate and champion waste reduction and recycling in each of our stores.
- Research and implement composting solutions in our Auckland Head Office.
As a responsible company, we are reviewing the materials we purchase, and selecting fabrics that have minimal impact on our planet. Footwear is one of the most complex products to make, with some styles containing over 75 different components including upper materials, linings, buckles, laces, insoles etc.
We are constantly innovating and researching new materials that meet our strict quality requirements that are also made with new technologies or ingredients, that help to reduce emissions throughout the supply chain.
In May 2021, we are excited to launch our first lower impact collection of footwear called ‘KIND’. The collection uses lower impact materials, such as Global Recycling Standard certified recycled leather, fly-knit uppers made from recycled plastic bottles, and outsoles containing recycled rubber.
The development of these three styles has been a two-year project for us at Kathryn Wilson footwear, where we have broken down each component, and selected recycled materials of the best quality to ensure comfort and longevity are not compromised.
We work very closely with our supply chain partners to source the softest and best quality leather and fabrics we can. As our style runs are exclusive, and our quantities are on the smaller side, we are finding it difficult to source 100% traceable and lower impact fabrics for all our pieces. However as this is a focus for us going forward, we have introduced using chrome-free, traceable leather on 30% of our production for 2022 deliveries with the intention to increase this amount every season.
We also work with local New Zealand fabric suppliers who source quality fabric for our shoes that has been previously discarded by larger global fashion design houses, ensuring this fabric has a longer life and does not go to landfill.
We are aware that all of our beautiful leather materials come from animals, and we want to ensure that all the leather we use comes from animals that have been treated with respect and dignity, and from farmland that has not been converted from protected rainforests. We are working hard on the traceability our hides to ensure responsible practices have been upheld from the farm to shoe box.
At Kathryn Wilson, each shoe we create is designed with love and care. Quality, comfort and durability are important pillars in the design of our products, as we want to make sure you can enjoy your beautiful shoes for as long as possible.
In order to ensure the best quality of materials and design is upheld, we wear test all our new styles for at least 3 months, to ensure the materials wear as we would expect.
We also want you to love your Kathryn Wilson pieces for as long as possible, so if there are any faulty issues with your shoes within the first 12 months, (excluding general wear and tear) we will get these repaired for you by Gemmell’s in Auckland, who have been crafting and mending shoes since 1925.
Our Commitments for Kinder Materials:
- 100% of our fly-knit sneakers to be made using recycled polyester by 2021.
- By the end of 2022, 20% of our virgin leather raw materials is traceable back to the farm.
- We will replace all polyester shoe laces with recycled polyester laces by 2022.
- To research and develop a Restricted Substances List for all our products, to ensure harmful chemicals are not used in the production of our shoes by 2023.
- Develop and create a collection of footwear using leather obtained through regenerative farming practices by 2030.
- To educate and communicate consistently with our Kathryn Wilson staff and wholesale customers on our KIND journey, and any learnings or issues we have had along the way.
Plastic packaging is filling up our landfills and oceans with waste and chemicals. At Kathryn Wilson, our packaging has been known for its fun and functional design, and we are working hard to ensure all our packaging pieces are reusable, recyclable or compostable.
One of the largest uses of plastic in the footwear supply chain are the non-recyclable shoe molds that are put inside each shoe to help keep its shape in shipping. In 2018, we switched all plastic shoe molds to paper and cardboard to help reduce plastic waste in our supply chain.
In 2020 we introduced our ‘Eco-Shipping’ option – giving customers the option to choose a classic, recyclable courier packaging option.
In 2021, we have designed our KIND collection shoebox to be 100% recyclable, reducing the use of metallic inks, plastic laminates and metal components to ensure customers can recycle easily.
By the end of 2022, all our packaging will be reusable, recyclable or compostable. We will be reviewing shoe boxes, tissue paper, note cards, and courier satchels.
We will be looking into the sources of our paper products – such as our carrier bags, shoe boxes. tissue paper etc to ensure these materials are not sourced from endangered rainforests and are FSC or PEFC certified.
We are committed to using non-toxic option for our anti-mold stickers. These help keep moisture at bay, and reduce the risk of mold developing on our beautiful products during storage and shipping.
KIND TO OUR PEOPLE
Our Kathryn Wilson family includes not only our fantastic staff in our Auckland Head Office and boutiques, but also our talented crafts men and women in our supply chain. We have spent many years building strong and meaningful relationships with our workers in our supply chain, and some have been with us since the very beginning. As a responsible business, we are focused on ensuring the rights of all the people involved in our products are upheld throughout the supply chain.
Currently all Kathryn Wilson products are made abroad, due to the lack of technology and footwear manufacturing sites here in New Zealand. Our key suppliers are based in the Guandong region of China and Italy.
CODE OF CONDUCT
To ensure our overseas suppliers uphold our values and practices for human rights, all vendors are required to sign our Vendor Code of Conduct, and we are working to ensure compliance in every area is followed. This Code has been based on internationally agreed standards set out by the Ethical Trading Initiative , International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the United Nations Global Compact. It outlines the minimum standards we expect of all our suppliers. We work closely with our suppliers to educate and mitigate any issues found in their businesses to ensure compliance with our policies.
We recognize that in order to ensure the rights and safety of all people involved in our products is upheld, we need to have transparency of all our factories – including our materials and component manufactures.
At Kathryn Wilson we aim to provide an inclusive and supportive environment for all of our employees.
Our employee's wellbeing is at the core of our business, and we take every opportunity to ensure our team members feel safe & valued. To aid in mental and physical wellbeing, we offer weekly Pilates at our head office for all our staff, along with offering flexible working hours and locations, and regular team building activities to ensure all staff have the opportunity to be heard.
By the end of 2021, to have requested and reviewed all Tier 1 (footwear manufacturers), third party social compliance audits, to ensure workers rights, wages and conditions are in line with our Kathryn Wilson values.
In 2022, conduct a discovery questionnaire with all of our tier 1 suppliers to understand their operations, and identify their potential risks.
To develop a Diversity and Inclusion policy in 2022, for our own operations to ensure we are meeting our obligations as a fair and inclusive employer.
KIND TO OUR COMMUNITY
Giving back to our community has been at the heart of what we do at Kathryn Wilson. We have worked with many pioneering charity groups since our founding, and aim to give back to deserving charity and community groups whenever we can.
We are constantly donating product to local community groups, and help support local families and schools where we can.
RONALD MCDONALD HOUSE
Since 2012 Kathryn Wilson has been and ambassador for Ronald McDonald House Charities.
The RMHC helps families with accommodation, food and support when their child is in need of urgent hospital care. In 2020 alone, RMHC provided support to over 3,700 families.
Through multiple fundraising and awareness activities, including our annual fundraising event in Christchurch, and the Red Shoe Ball in Auckland, Kathryn Wilson actively supports and donates to the RMHC to help more Kiwi families.
You can read more about Ronald McDonald House Charities here - https://rmhc.org.nz/
BREAST CANCER CURE
Breast Cancer Cure have been working tirelessly to raise funds for important research into a cure for Breast Cancer. They have raised close to $11 million dollars to help fund this vital research.
Kathryn Wilson have partnered with Breast Cancer Cure to help raise funds through their ‘Fashion For a Cure’ fashion shows. There are five shows a year, and in February 2021, Kathryn Wilson held a stand alone show in Auckland, which helped to raise nearly $46,000 towards their research.
THE FUTURE GENERATION
We believe change comes through education and mentorship.
For many years we have been inducting fashion students from several New Zealand universities and schools, such as the AUT Shadow the Leader programme. We offer one intern an intensive work experience placement, giving them experience and mentoring in all parts of our business.
The next generation also bring a special perspective on sustainability and business, and we will continue to listen and absorb from them on how we can evolve our journey.
- In order to make a meaningful difference, we are committed to supporting Ronald McDonald House Charities and Breast Cancer Cure for the next 24 months.
- We will increase our efforts to educating the next generation and giving them opportunities for growth in our business and beyond.
- By 2022, we would like to increase our impact by partnering with a global environmental charity or NGO, to ensure we are supporting some of the important work that is happening on the ground to help reduce global emissions, protect biodiversity and clean up our planet.