How Australian tailoring brand M.J. Bale are saving the environment one suit at a time

If you knew that buying a particular brand would not only support Australia's woolgrowers but also the environment, would that influence where you got your sartorial kicks?

This opportunity to give a little back to the planet (and Australian farmers) is what suit maker par excellence M.J. Bale is offering with their second drop of Kingston suits.

Made using single-origin wool sourced from Kingston Farm in Tasmania, the 2019 Kingston vintage continues M.J. Bale's tradition of elegant, quality tailoring for the modern man.

Spun from superfine merino wool, the Kingston line is available in eight style options, four of which are from M.J. Bale's iconic 'Samurai' line - suits made in a private atelier in the Iwate Prefecture of Japan. Known for their high degree of hand craftsmanship, the Samurai line involves hand-sewn armholes and collars for a more precise finish.

The Kingston suits are available in M.J. Bale's signature blues (including this season's must-have Prince of Wales check) and versatile grey in both regular and slim fits. Woven by Vitale Barberis Canonico, a 356-year-old weaver located in Biella in northern Italy, a region famous for its wool mills, fans of M.J. Bale will know the quality of the fabrication.

"When you wear these suits, you can feel a distinct difference," explains Jensen.

"They've got this lightness to it, but a body; it's extremely comfortable – it moves with you and it becomes uniquely yours."

No small part of that is due to the unparalleled quality of wool that is coming out of Tasmania.

"You don't get seasons anywhere else except for down in Tasmania," explains Jensen.

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"That consistency of wool growing conditions in other regions of Australia – not even New England – can't compare and Tasmania is extremely blessed with its environment to produce fantastic fibres."

The success of their first Kingston line - which sold out almost immediately when it first launched in 2017 - is evidence that men are showing a more mindful approach to the way they stock their wardrobe.

"The uptake by the customer on the idea of knowing exactly where something's come from, has been fantastic," says Jensen.

"It's something that has really resonated. And that's just on the micro level. On the macro, there is a real belief in people, of knowing where things come from, and a belief in customers on buying into things with integrity."

And Jensen is definitely putting his money where his wool is, so to speak. Each Kingston suit purchased sends a percentage of profit straight back to Kingston Farm, a 114-year-old property located in Tasmania's northern Midlands. Under the stewardship of sixth-generation woolgrower and conservationist, Simon Cameron, Kingston is home to at least 12 threatened and near-threatened plant species and animals, including breeding wedge-tailed eagles, platypus, kangaroos and Eastern and Spotted-tailed quolls.

It also contains eight per cent of Tasmania's indigenous grassland.

"Believe it or not, the most threatened ecosystem in the world is native grassland," says Cameron.

"It's been smashed by development, converted for use by agriculture. In Tasmania there is only three per cent left of lowland native grassland communities when the whites arrived. Of that three per cent, 10 per cent is found on Kingston.

"There is a thing called the Midlands biodiversity hotspot and Kingston was seen as the jewel in the crown of this region."

So far, over $60,000 has been reinvested into the support and conservation of Kingston and this fragile ecosystem.

The transparency of knowing where the materials of your clothes come from and knowing that financial support goes directly back to the source taps into our growing need for more ethical consumption.

"I think [Kingston] is a template of what can be done in the future," says Jensen.

"It's a small ecosystem that we live in but for a European brand it's very hard for them to navigate their way to find one of the best woolgrowers in the world and work cooperatively on this level. But there is now a lot more interest from European companies and brands to do something more meaningful."

There's also the message behind the fabric itself. As fibres go, wool remains one of the most versatile and robust materials on the market. It is also a mirror to the conditions it is grown in – the healthier the climate and the livestock, the better quality and lightness of the superfine merino wool used to create your suit.

It's a topic this writer has touched on before - the importance of changing the way we talk about wool from a renewable commodity and instead a precious fibre. Cameron – and Jensen – agrees that wool is a direct representative of the importance of a more holistic fashion industry.

"There's a bit of flack out there the way stuff gets produced and people are starting to look for alternatives that don't shed microfibres. This is giving them an alternative. This is taking them back to a luxury fibre," says Cameron.

"But people are also discovering that this premium, luxury fibre - the sort of fibre that Kingston produces - there's actually a finite amount of it, and it's a decreasing amount of it."

"It's not something you can turn the tap back on and it arrives the next season," says Jensen.

"You need to nourish it, you need to care for it, in order to deliver it season after season and that's the goal for Kingston."