Tom Glover is the MD and owner of Peregrine Clothing. Peregrine has manufactured knitwear in England for over 220 years, sourcing wool from British farmers for over eight generations.
With a deep commitment to British farming and in recognition of the global climate and ecological crises, Peregrine is now transitioning to source 100% of its British wool from regenerative farms by 2026. Tom, a designer who led the company through a recent rebrand, tells us why his next commercial step is even more important.
Tom, firstly can you tell us what exactly is regenerative knitwear?
Regenerative knitwear is created using wool from sheep that have been reared on a regenerative farm.
A regenerative farm uses nature-friendly farming and grazing methods. In order to reverse climate change by rebuilding soil health and restoring degraded soil biodiversity – resulting in both carbon drawdown and improving the water cycle.
Regenerative agriculture not only ‘does no harm’ to the land, but actually improves it, using technologies that restore and revitalize the soil and the environment.
How is regenerative sheep farming different to the current sheep farming model?
Regenerative sheep farming proactively adopts the above methods and year-on-year works to improve the above outcomes including healthy soils, and ecosystem restoration. Whereas conventional sheep farming comes in many forms and is principally focused on yield.
Why is regenerative farming so important to you personally?
The UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world, and we are supporting farmers working to turn this story around.
Through our commitment to the regenerative farming movement, we are also helping to protect the livelihoods of UK farmers – supporting a farming system fit for the future.
It’s also the bigger picture for me – we only have one planet so every industry and individual should be making changes to help protect our environment.
You are supporting your farmers to become regenerative. Can you tell us how?
We are working with UK certification partner Pasture for Life, an 800-strong community of farmers, butchers, artisans and academics.
Unlike many other certification options, their farmer-centred approach is affordable and flexible making it accessible to any farmer keen to make the transition.
We firmly believe that the transition to regenerative should be accessible to all farmers. That’s why we have selected our partners carefully. By intentionally mapping out a realistic and phased approach in step with the UK farming community, while acknowledging that significant systems change can’t happen overnight.
We are also partnering with pioneering technology Soil Mentor. A low-cost app that puts change in the hands of the farmer through easy benchmarking and guidance to improve soil health on-farm.
Has Peregrine Clothing always had sustainability at its heart or is that something you have driven yourself?
I’ve learnt a lot about environmental sustainability in recent years, and we work to continuously manufacture as responsibly as possible.
We have been manufacturing clothes in England since 1796 and we aim to keep it that way, to support British manufacturing and reduce our carbon footprint.
How would you respond to PETA and others who argue the wool industry harms sheep as well as the environment?
Pasture for Life farmers must comply with high standards of animal welfare and graze animals on pasture all year round – this is central to their ethos. Their approach is proven to bring about positive impacts for biodiversity and carbon, human health, and animal health and welfare.
Well-managed pasture and grasslands support rich ecosystems that teem with life; grazing them with animals is vital in maintaining and regenerating biodiversity, soil health and carbon storage.
Today, such practices are sadly in a minority and need more public support and education around the important role that grazing animals play in climate-friendly land management.
Will you ever sell vegan alternatives to wool at Peregrine?
We are introducing linen knitwear in our SS23 collection as an alternative to wool. However, for me, the biggest challenge is removing harmful plastics from the fashion industry that can’t be broken down and/or recycled.
Most CEOs we talk to are founders of their businesses, but you are the eighth-generation owner of Peregrine. What does it feel like to inherit a business with such an amazing history and heritage?
I’m incredibly proud of our family history and the fact we’ve maintained our UK manufacturing routes. A lot has changed during our company’s history and I’m pleased to build the brand on the foundations my ancestors worked to preserve.
What advice would you give to other business owners looking to transform their business models to one with sustainability at its core?
Surround yourself with people who are passionate about finding practical solutions that can add value to your brand proposition whilst also preparing your brand for future fitness.
Make your supply chain as traceable as possible. Establish your baselines early on by undergoing a carbon audit so you can track progress year on year – share your journey with your customers.
Look for low-hanging fruit to get started and read widely to further your knowledge.
Join organisations such as Textile Exchange where you can benefit from open-access sources and peer-to-peer learning through their community. You will often find someone who has already faced the challenges you are facing and access collective support.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far as a CEO?
Listen to your customers – change/adapt to what people want and don’t try to reinvent the wheel.
What is your vision for the future of sheep farming in the UK?
While other brands are investing in regenerative agriculture overseas, we are squarely focused on repairing and restoring nature in our own backyard and are committed to working with British farmers long-term.
We will continue to drive awareness of wool as a wonder fibre in the fight against climate change – steering customers towards natural fibres and championing domestic growing – working towards a more equitable and hopeful future for British farmers.