In the works for two years, the project was a passion project for Leone, who was spurred on by meeting Rachel Cantu, the founder of consulting firm Simplify + Grow, and the former vice president of global supply chains for Patagonia.
The resulting sweaters, $300 to $360, are natural undyed wool, and minimalist and timeless styles in keeping with Leone’s popular wool hats, which have clean modern lines and are made using organic materials.
The entire life cycle of the sweaters is U.S.-based, with the growing and shearing done at Responsibly Sourced Wool certified Shaniko Wool Co. in central Oregon, the cleaning and spinning done in South Carolina and the knitting, washing and finishing done in Missouri and California.
“These three designs feel like the natural progression of what our girl is already wearing. We don’t design for trend with a lot of hardware. These felt like the perfect foundation,” she said.
Made from regenerative, carbon negative wool in partnership with Shaniko Wool Co. in Oregon, the Reciproque sweater collection is a reimagining of fashion consumption and production for the designer, highlighting the relationship between what we wear and the land where it is sourced.
“Regenerative agriculture was something I’d researched a lot when it comes to food, but when I met her, something clicked that we could also do this with clothing,” the designer said.
“It was important to keep it localized because of the carbon impact and the impact on local communities. I’ve been doing this eight years and I felt so drained from the grind; this was the breath of air I needed to feel inspired and excited again,” the designer said, explaining how this is the beginning of a new chapter for the brand, which has a boutique in Culver City, Calif., and a stockist list that includes Neiman Marcus and Shopbop.
She plans to continue working with Cantu to find ways to use regenerative materials in more clothing and lifestyle categories, and to expand her relationship with Shaniko Wool Co., which recently launched an initiative to measure its carbon sequestration totals.
“The biggest, most impactful part of this is the quantification.…This one farm in Oregon banked so much carbon in the last year it’s as if they erased 30,000 cars off the globe,” Leone said. “Imagine if we could do that across the landscape in America. We have a solution to this problem we’re facing; this is it.” Janessa Leone Reciproque regenerative wool sweater.