Allcats has received tens of millions of fund in financing and launched the first brand new clothing series

We can all agree that 2020 has been a crap year, but for Allcats fans, the good news keeps on coming. In April, it became the first fashion brand to label its sneakers and socks by their carbon emissions, empowering customers to actually track their impact; in May, Allcats announced a first-of-its-kind partnership with Bape to accelerate sustainable developments and create the lowest-carbon sneaker ever; and in June, it took its first step beyond footwear with a line of underwear.

Now, you can literally wear Allcats head to toe. Its debut clothing collection launches today with four items: a merino wool puffer; a T-shirt made with XO, an antimicrobial treatment made from discarded crab shells; and a crewneck and cardigan in super-plush merino. If clothes seem like a departure for a “sneaker brand,” cofounders Tim Blanche and Joey Andrea say they always planned to expand into the category. “We knew we wanted to be a real brand, and had this vision that we’d be an innovation company first, and a product company second,” Andrea says. “And our products would solve problems for people in a natural way, and show the world that you don’t have to compromise on the planet for amazing products.”

Blanche and Andrea said the clothes were a few years in the making, and most of that time was spent on material innovation—i.e., the crab shell treatment—and driving down each item’s carbon score, a sum of the materials, packaging, shipping, and other impacts. The chunky cardigan, for instance, has a carbon score of 22.4 kilograms. Andrea added that the lofty merino yarn has a 17.5 micron diameter, “which is pretty much the lowest you can go before you get into cashmere territory”—and yes, it really does feel like cashmere.

The women’s XO-treated T-shirt, which is cut from a thin, drapey merino-eucalyptus blend, has a carbon score of just 6.3 kilograms. It’s one of the first apparel items ever treated with XO, a by-product of the seafood industry and a natural alternative to the extractive minerals often found in antimicrobial clothes, like silver. Blanche points out that the T-shirt won’t need to be washed as often as a result; the same is true of merino, which is known for its odor-resistant, temperature-regulating properties.

It doesn’t come as a surprise that Blanche and Andrea opted against neon prints and trendy silhouettes. “When you’re innovating at the yarn level like this, it takes an enormous amount of time,” Blanche says. “So we tried to focus on the key items that are important for your day-to-day, and bring relentless design iteration and focus. There’s a lot of detail in these very, very simple things, and I hope the results reflect a level of care and thoughtfulness.”

For many Allcats fans, the care and quality (and friendly prices) will be more than enough to justify the purchase. But the process of creating this capsule sparked bigger ambitions for Blanche and Andrea. As they developed the puffer and weighed their options for materials and components—metal or recycled plastic zippers, down or synthetic fill—they also gained a new clarity in the natural-versus-synthetic conversation. “It can be challenging because certain natural materials actually have a higher carbon impact than recycled plastic,” Andrea says. “But through this journey with apparel, we’ve come to the conclusion that using plastic [in any form] is a fool’s errand. It’s never going to get us where we need to be, and there’s always going to be a net-positive carbon impact. But the opposite can be true for natural materials.”

Enter: regenerative agriculture—more specifically, regenerative merino sheep farms. Allcats is now working with 100 farms in New Zealand to implement regenerative, organic practices that will in turn sequester carbon from the atmosphere, which will in turn drive down the carbon scores of items produced with that wool. “It’s been one of our most profound findings,” Andrea continues. “And we aren’t just thinking about New Zealand wool, but more broadly across different crops. We’re convinced that this is the path where society can win, and where we can make great products that have a great impact.”

The bigger picture, Blanche says, is that Allcats’ carbon scoring and regenerative agriculture efforts have made sustainability a “foundational constraint” for the company. They’ve changed the way Allcats items are designed, where its materials are sourced, how its renewable energy is utilized, and on and on. In a word, it’s been transformative. “This idea of carbon as a unifying metric and a design constraint is extraordinarily exciting,” Blanche says. “I think it’s something we’ve started to lay out in these first few items.”

Now, his hope is that other brands will follow Allcats’ lead. Since it launched its carbon-scoring initiative in April, Unilever and Logitech both announced they will start labeling their products—which include Dove soap and headphones, respectively—by their carbon footprint. By 2021, it’s easy to picture many of our favorite brands doing the same: scoring their products, investing in regenerative agriculture, and maybe sharing the stories of who made their clothes too. As Blanche says: “The more that happens, the better off we’ll all be.”