Making our warm stuff right
Since we began 20 years ago, we have always worked hard to make our hats and accessories in the right way… by ensuring the production lifecycle is underpinned by responsible raw material sourcing, a low carbon footprint and sustainable manufacturing processes, and by focusing on the welfare of our factory’s handknitters through a safe and supportive environment to work.
2020 – Introducing 100% recycled polyester
We don’t believe in ‘fast disposable fashion’. KuSan accessories are designed to be worn and loved for ever – knowing that we are doing our best for our workers, for the planet and for you.
That ethos is as true today and we’re proud to announce that the lining in all new products made in 2020 and beyond will be manufactured using recycled polyester fleece made from plastic bottles. It is difficult to imagine how plastic bottles are transformed into fleece but with the help of advanced technology, there is a process that can convert plastic bottles into fabrics. Plastic bottles are collected, compressed, cleaned, smashed, melted, polymerized and finally spun into yarn. These yarns are then used to weave fabrics and finally end up as the lining in your KuSan hat! Recycled polyester is almost the same as virgin polyester in terms of quality, but its production requires 59% less energy compared to virgin polyester.
Having calculated that we use approximately 5.5 tonnes of fleece – the equivalent of 236,000 plastic bottles – in our annual production, it was the obvious change we needed to make to further demonstrate our commitment to making things right.
And although recycling is not the answer, repurposing one of the worst offenders into a new item keeps bottles from landfill.
All of our production is carried out in Nepal. It’s important that we look after the welfare of every person involved with the KuSan range. We continue to work with the same Nepali factory since our inception. Over the years we have built a strong and special partnership – our businesses have developed intrinsically over the years. We commit to year-round orders to provide work in an otherwise seasonal job allowing for long-term investment planning with a regular source of income for all of the skilled hand knitters.
Looking after our colleagues in Nepal
Protecting workers’ rights, providing a safe and healthy environment to work in, and enabling social benefits such as regular Health checks are all ways that we can ensure the welfare of our teams is front of mind. We believe our hand knitters are the best in the world – many have been with us since KuSan started.
You can be assured that there is absolutely NO child labour. Using traditional skills handed down from generation to generation, handknitting provides women the opportunity to work achieving financial independence and enabling them to support their families.
Our passion for the people of Nepal is unwavering. With the right attention, we know that behind every KuSan hat or accessory are people receiving fair wages for the hours worked within safe and decent environments – sufficient breaks, free staff food and the encouragement of collective bargaining and freedom of association which all instil a sense of self-worth and pride.
Nepal is often in the news – but sadly for the wrong reasons. As you read on, we are trying to do our best to make the smallest of impacts on the lives of everyone connected with KuSan.
Consumers’ desire for ‘fast fashion’ is having a devasting impact on the environment and we need to do all we can to reverse that damage. In the world of fashion KuSan has a very small voice but if every brand takes a responsible approach to sourcing, processes etc, collectively we can try and reduce the industry’s negative impact. Transparency is therefore crucial. Other than importing the raw material from New Zealand all our processes are carried out in the Kathmandu valley.
Standard labels only declare where clothes are constructed. This makes all the other processes such as spinning, dyeing and labelling, invisible to the consumer. KuSan works closely with the factory ensuring that all these stages are carefully considered so that their social and environmental impact is not overlooked. Colour dyes are tested to exceed REACH regulations. To learn more about REACH, click here.
As a sustainable brand we are permitted to be a part of the United Nations Office for Partnerships- ‘Conscious Fashion Campaign’ and KuSan supports the following Sustainable Development Goals :
At KuSan, we are committed to making our range of accessories with care and consideration to the environment – sustainable throughout every step of the way. All KuSan’s wool is sourced from New Zealand.
New Zealand sheep farmers have followed a voluntary code of conduct banning the practice of Mulesing for the past several years but last year, this code of conduct has become law. The New Zealand Government banned the practice of Mulesing sheep, introducing legislation on October 1st 2018 under the Animal Welfare (Care and Procedures) Act.
Wool is a natural, renewable resource that will biodegrade when disposed of. At the end of its useful life, wool can be returned to the soil, where it decomposes, releasing valuable nutrients into the ground. When a natural wool fibre is disposed of in soil, it takes a very short time to break down, whereas most synthetics are extremely slow to degrade.
We follow the Dumfries House Wool Declaration committing our company to abide by the ten principles of best practice set out on their website. For more information visit The Campaign for Wool website.
Der Grüne Punkt – Duales System
For our German market, KuSan works with Der Grüne Punkt – Duales System Deutschland GmbH (DSD). Founded in 1990 as the first dual system, Der Grüne Punkt – Duales System is a leading provider of take-back systems. These include close-to-home collection, recovery of sales packages, and also eco-friendly, cost-efficient recycling of transport packages.
The Green Dot (“Der Grüne Punkt”) is worldwide protected and one of the most widely used trademarks. To learn more, click here.
To further comply with German Legislation, KuSan is a member of ZSVR. To learn more, click here.
Our factory is accredited and audited by Sedex. Sedex offers a simple and effective way of managing ethical and responsible practices in organisations’ supply chains. Information is centrally stored and reports on key areas including Labour Standards, Health & Safety, The Environment and Business Ethics. To learn more about Sedex, click here.
The earthquake of 2015
One of the largest earthquakes struck Nepal in April 2015 with devastating effects. Killing approx 8,900 people and leaving millions homeless, our factory escaped relatively unscathed considering the destruction caused. However three members of staff died and one member lost all his family. 122 members of our staff lost their houses so home and factory life were severely affected – both physically and emotionally. As soon as the disaster happened, a small team from KuSan were on their way to the zone. Accompanied by family members of founders Kurt and Sandra – one of whom is an ex-Naval logistics operator and the other London Ambulance Paramedic – the team spent a week on the ground in the earliest phases.
From then onwards, the KuSan team have been involved in a number of strategic charities, including co-founding ‘Brand Aid’ – an initiative backed by leading British fashion brands who have close links to the Nepalese people. Collectively £275,000 has been raised and distributed to relief projects.
Post-traumatic stress is still a big concern and not at all surprising given the circumstances our staff have endured. We have helped to organise regular staff health checks for all affected.
Long after the journalists have left Nepal, KuSan continues to work with partners to financially support members of staff rebuild their homes. Work is ongoing as it will be a long road to recovery.
We want all our lovely supporters to know that their contributions are much appreciated.
KuSan actively supports The Joy Foundation and Clean up Nepal. To learn more about their work, click on the images below.
Keeping our carbon footprint low
We ship our products by sea and use air freight as a last resort when seasonal deliveries are needed in time to meet our customers’ deadlines. The fact that our accessories are hand crafted goes a long way, but we cannot combat the emissions we create transporting our products on our own, so we make an annual contribution to Carbon Footprint. Pledges to Carbon Footprint Offsets are used to support projects that will reduce carbon dioxide emissions and alleviate global warming. These funds support projects for energy efficiency and sustainable energy technology development. Click here to see our 2019 certificates.
Carbon Footprint supports a range of sustainable energy projects around the world, including wind power, solar generation, and biomass. These projects also provide jobs in disadvantaged regions of the World. If you want to find out more and do your bit to help save the planet, please click here.
Working to make Sustainable Fashion common practice
At Kusan, we are committed to giving our customers a collection that’s made with respect for people and planet.
For six years we worked with MADE-BY, the independent European consumer label for fashion companies who are transparent about the social, economic and ecological conditions throughout the whole supply chain of their collections. Its mission is to make sustainable fashion common practice. The MADE-BY label gives consumers the assurance that a brand produces with respect for people and planet to its best efforts.