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Untouched World is a premium sustainable fashion and performance sportswear brand based on the New Zealand lifestyle. It grew out of a desire to create a positive, sustainable future. Social, cultural and environmental values are embedded deep within the DNA of Untouched World, while quality, function and style remain pivotal to the brand’s success.

“Through fashion, Untouched World aims to lead the way in what is possible for people & planet.”

Founder, Peri Drysdale, was determined to build a multi-dimensional business that created products and services that positively contributed to the planet and its people. This is achieved directly and indirectly through her business and Charitable Trust.

Most outstanding is Untouched World’s leadership in sustainability. The company designs and manufactures clothing with an aim to eliminate or minimise harmful impacts on the environment, and maximise development and renewal, in both people and the environment. How? Through mitigating waste, emissions and adverse impacts on biodiversity, and by minimising the use of energy, packaging and transportation. Untouched World takes materials from nature and creates high performance, sustainable fabrics such as Ecopossum™ (merino & possum knitwear), Organic Mountainsilk™ (fine machine washable merino), organic cotton and bamboo. Full life-cycle analyses of products are regularly conducted. Untouched World’s impressively ‘eco’ supply chain includes: certified organic and sustainably farmed merino, patented chemical-free mechanically processed bamboo fabric, recycled fusing, recycled cotton buttons and organic cotton back sew in labels.

Garments are manufactured both in New Zealand and overseas, with all partners screened to ensure they align with Untouched World’s cultural, environmental and social values. The manufacturing origins of all products are readily identifiable. Untouched World has also considered environmental impacts during the service life of the products. Ranges are for example designed to reduce the need for laundering.

Untouched World has a set of company policies to support their sustainability objectives, along with supply chain and stakeholder review processes. The company produces an externally peer reviewed Sustainable Development Report to measure sustainability, identify challenges and share their successes. The report discusses not only Untouched World’s commitment to sustainable product design, but also their efforts to reduce in house energy, water and waste consumption. Such efforts include an energy audit, recycling stations, metered water, a Bokashi system for food waste, an evaluation and subsequent reduction of paper usage, a 28% reduction in waste to landfill in 2009-10, and an increase in recovered materials to 84%.

The Untouched World Charitable Trust, funded by 1% of Untouched World sales, was established in 2000. The Trust facilitates Drysdale’s vision of social, cultural and environmental sustainability and her belief in the value of experiential learning. Four student-centred programmes are offered for school students in years 11–13, as well as newly trained teachers about to begin their classroom career. The four programmes are

  • The restoration and creation of a wildlife sanctuary for at risk native animal and plant species on Blumine Island in the Queen Charlotte Sound, Marlborough.
  • Kiwi recovery in Tongariro National Park.
  • Rowi Kiwi recovery in Okarita, west Coast South Island, Rowi kiwi from this programme have been released on to the now predator free Blumine Island to breed.
  • Waterwise – a joint project with the Clinton Global Initiative (McKenzie Country, South Island)

Lecturers, teachers and community educators from a range of backgrounds mentor the participants, and help them realise theirleadership capabilities. Collaborative partnerships with universities, the Department of Conservation, local government, the private sector and fellow non-government organisations, such as BNZ Save the Kiwi, are central to the success of these programmes.

In 2007, Untouched World became the first fashion company in the world to be accredited by UNESCO to carry the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (UN DESD) logo on its labelling. This award recognises the efforts of Untouched World and the Untouched World Charitable Trust in the area of education for sustainability. In April of 2007, Drysdale was among twelve global exemplars invited to present at the United Nations Headquarters in Bonn, Germany, to discuss how to engage the corporate sector in education for sustainable development. Since then Drysdale and other Untouched World representatives have returned to Bonn to attend, present and consult at various United Nations meetings on Education for Sustainable Development. Former US President Bill Clinton has also sought Peri’s contribution on how to improve the world’s environment at the Clinton Global Initiative conferences.

“Untouched World is an outstanding example of a company that takes a holistic approach to business. They are implementing projects that are outstanding case studies for what is possible with sustainable business.”
Hayden Montgomerie, acting Secretary General, The New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO

Over the years, Untouched World has accumulated a stack of awards, nominations and achievements, including Peri Drysdale named 2006 New Zealander of the year and 2006 Deloitte/Management Magazine Top 200 Ethical Governance Award. For a full list of awards and achievements visit click here.

At Untouched World, sustainability is viewed as a smart strategic economic move rather than a nice thing to do. Rising public concern over biodiversity loss, food quality and ethical trade, as well as the increasing propensity of social media networks to expose corporate “green wash,” all highlight that sustainability is the price companies must pay to be viable and sell their goods in an increasingly educated and sophisticated global consumer market.

No only do sustainable and ethical practices contribute to Untouched World’s effective branding campaign, it also generates a loyal following. Because of New Zealand’s size and distance from international markets, Drysdale believes many New Zealand exporters can leverage a key advantage – the Pure New Zealand reputation – in order to compete in the global market. “Much of our existing economy is based on products and services that benefit from the New Zealand brand attributes related to our ‘clean green’ image” says Drysdale. “Successful clean tech initiatives based upon practical sound scientific data will benefit brand New Zealand as well as generate prosperity in their own right. Consumer behaviour is changing. We must not be the laggards waiting around for the last bus home”.

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