A Wild Life with Jordi Beneyto-Ferre
Jordi Beneyto-Ferre is the Senior Manager of Global Materials and Sustainability at New Zealand-born natural performance brand icebreaker. Originally from Spain, Jordi relocated to a bunch of cool places around the world following his passion for performance apparel, the highlight he says “being New Zealand for sure.”
With 15 years’ experience in sportswear development and innovation within global leading brands (Puma, Adidas, icebreaker), Jordi is an industrial engineer and industrial design engineer by trade.
Where Wild Things Roam recently caught tried out the latest in the icebreaker range and caught up with Jordi for a chat about his role and all things sustainable. This is what he had to say.
What attracted you to work with a company like icebreaker?
What attracted me to work for icebreaker is its undeterred purpose to do things right. icebreaker was founded on a belief that I wholeheartedly agree with: nature has the answers. After a long time working for the synthetic apparel industry in Europe, I started to feel a lack of purpose in what I was doing, so when I learnt about icebreaker’s purpose to become 100% natural, I thought, this is a challenge I want to be part of. Further than that, the opportunity for adventure that New Zealand offers was quite an attractive “extra” to us to make the move South!
Why do you think sustainability is so important in the clothing and apparel industry?
Sustainability at icebreaker is not something that we do on the side, it’s embedded in the very fabric of the company and the purpose by which it was created. The key to sustainability is traceability and a deep understanding of how we make products. At icebreaker we start with the fibre, by creating long and strong relationships with our wool growers through our partnership with The New Zealand Merino Company, all the way to creating yarns, fabrics and garments exactly to our specification, down to the last component. Knowing every single step of the process, we can then act to continuously improve the way we make products and continue to minimize the impact those products have on the planet.
What are some of the achievements icebreaker has made in this field so far?
Since committing to Plastic Free we have been relentlessly working in eliminating Petro-chemical synthetics from our clothes. Currently, we are sitting at 95% of our total volume of purchased fibres coming from natural or plant-based origins and we continue to work on that last remaining 5%. We are very proud of the amazing progress done in a relatively short period of time. A key priority for icebreaker is to nurture our relationships with our wool growers and join forces with them to design a better future for the merino wool industry.
Back in 2018, we were the first company to introduce 10-year wool supply contracts which is an achievement we are most proud of. These long-term contracts are a unique model of the industry, in which we create long-lasting, mutually beneficial partnerships to support a better future for our growers, our planet and icebreaker. As part of that we are committed to the adoption and scale-up of merino wool sourced from our contracted farms adhered to the ZQRX program, a regenerative agriculture program from The New Zealand Merino Company.
What does the collaboration with UPPAREL mean for icebreaker?
As part of the apparel industry, we have a responsibility to design systems that enable us to manage the product we create from cradle to grave. By collaboration with UPPAREL we take responsibility for the end of life of apparel, not just icebreakers but any brand, by providing our customers with a reliable recycling process for their pre-loved clothes. In exchange for that, they receive a gift voucher which they can use in purchasing natural performance apparel from icebreaker.
What is your favourite icebreaker gear and why?
It’s a tough choice as most days I wear icebreaker from head to toe. I love our Tech Lite II Tees for their amazing versatility. I can wear them biking for 1h and keep them on for the rest of the day in the office without any colleagues complaining. In the mid-layer range, I love our RealFleece™ Descender Long Sleeve Zip Jacket as I feel it has a great temperature balancing capacity, so it keeps you balanced during an intense hike in cold conditions.
Why would you recommend icebreaker for outdoor adventurists?
I honestly feel that once you try icebreaker and Merino wool, there is no way back. I personally cannot wear anything else as I feel uncomfortable in synthetic material clothing. Out in nature, you want to have a few items that can cover most of your needs, with as little laundering required as possible. It doesn’t get any better than layering up in Merino wool for comfort, performance, and of course awesome looks!
Where was your last adventure and what did you do?
My last big adventure was campervanning for 4 weeks around the South Island of New Zealand with my wife and 2 sons. We carry 4 mountain bikes, 2 paddleboards, 2 surfboards and anything else we can fit into our little self-made camper, to ensure we can enjoy every bit that nature has to offer. We have no itinerary or expectations, just trying to enjoy every day as it comes. It’s total freedom.
If you could travel anywhere and do anything – with no budget or restrictions, where would you go and why?
I would love to bike-pack my way down New Zealand from North to South without any type of assistance, carrying all my gear and hitting all the great classic NZ mountain bike routes like The Timber Trail, The Old Ghost Road, Paparoa track, etc.