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The Next Economy
Ratcheting Up to Sustainable Activewear, Inside and Out

ALLIED Feather & Down relaunches its global supply chain education and traceability tool for outdoor brands and consumers, while Arc’Teryx goes circular with Rock Solid Used Gear.

The outdoor apparel industry has apparently taken its role as stewards of the environment in which it plays to heart, as illustrated by a series of remarkable recent moves on the sustainability front — including the release of an industry-first transparency report from Icebreaker; and the textile sector’s first-ever Planetary Boundaries Assessment, from Houdini Sportswear; as well as the world's first climate-positive outdoor footwear, from Icebug. And the progress continues ...

Allied Feather & Down relaunches TrackMyDown platform for consumer and retailer education, traceability

Image credit: TrackMyDown

Allied Feather & Down — creators of industry-leading responsible down sourcing is announcing the relaunch of its proprietary website, an educational transparency tool designed to provide consumers and brands with all of the information they may need about the down lining their jacket or sleeping bag.

After helping to create the now globally recognized Responsible Down Standard (RDS) within its supply chain — in collaboration with The North Face — and gifting it to the Textile Exchange in 2014, Allied wanted to take traceability in the global down insulation supply chain to the next level. The new TrackMyDown platform provides a more robust user experience for consumers at point of purchase and at home. The down used in each product will also now be more easily tracked directly through partner brands’ own websites with seamless integration of a new TrackMyDown widget. 

“TrackMyDown was built as a way to turn the down jacket, sleeping bag, comforter or pillow inside out — allowing access to critical performance parameters and additional information that were never known, thanks to a notoriously opaque supply chain,” said Daniel Uretsky, President at Allied Feather & Down. “Down has traditionally been a generic ingredient with, at best, a fill power’ rating to communicate quality to the consumer.

“The overall quality of the down inside a garment is incredibly complex and much more than just fill power, however. Most consumers don’t even know what fill power is, and as garment design and construction change, fill power becomes an increasingly less important indicator of quality or performance. We thought it necessary to develop a tool that could provide some of this important information and engage the potential purchaser of a down product to help them make more informed decisions.”

Founded in Vernon, Calif. in 1987, the family-owned and -operated Allied has earned a reputation as the largest, most reliable and most responsible supplier of raw material in the industry. Through the creation of the RDS and TrackMyDown, Allied is committed to safeguarding the welfare of animals while protecting the environment.

“Yes, it is incredibly important to know where your down came from in regards to animal welfare, but there is much, much more that goes into producing high-performing and sustainable insulation than simply sourcing — and nobody is communicating that,” Uretsky adds. “We always saw the RDS and other standards as simply the foundation for the real work, communicating the complexities and positive environmental benefits to the consumer. But this couldn’t be done without such robust standards in place, and is why we timed the initial launch of TrackMyDown with the first-season, RDS-certified products were hitting the shelves.”

TrackMyDown was born in Fall 2015 with five partner brands: Peak Performance, Feathered Friends, Montane, Daniadown and Merrell. Allied says there are now roughly 80 globally recognized partner brands from the outdoor, lifestyle and fashion industries using the tool, with more than 100 brands on board for Fall 2019 product lines — meaning, most prominent active lifestyle brands will be using hang tags on every down-insulated garment at retail, creating powerful direct-to-consumer connections and brand awareness.

“There is a lot of misinformation about down in the media. TrackMyDown seeks to both assure the consumer that the material has been responsibly sourced, and also that the material has been sustainably processed, and shows the exact cleanliness and content of each lot,” Uretsky says. “When you see consumers hesitating to purchase down products — arguably some of the most environmentally friendly outerwear pieces available — simply because they are unclear of where it comes from or do not understand how sustainable it can be, we realized it was time to reinvent consumer traceability and education in our industry.”

Arc'teryx climbs into recommerce with Rock Solid Used Gear

Image credit: Arc'teryx

Meanwhile, Arc'teryx — the Vancouver-based design company specializing in technical, high-performance apparel, outerwear and equipment — has taken another step in its ongoing commitment to sustainable design: Following in the footsteps of fellow forward-thinking outdoor brands REI and The North Face, Arc'teryx has launched its own recommerce program, Rock Solid Used Gear. Harkening back to the company's original name when it was founded over 30 years ago, Rock Solid Used Gear is a repurposing hub designed to keep excellent products in service as long as possible — and to lighten the company's environmental footprint.

Made possible by the company's design team, who creates gear to outlive its users' adventures, Arc'teryx — whose down-filled products also adhere to ALLIED’s Responsible Down Standard — will now buy back used gear in good condition, clean and repair products with plenty of life left in them and resell the items at a lower cost. The prolonged lifecycle allows customers to access supremely technical gear for less while also minimizing the brand's environmental footprint.

"At Arc'teryx, we are more than designers — we are agents for change, leaning into hard problems and applying a process and ethos that creates possibility," said Arc'teryx General Manager and President Jon Hoerauf. "We are framing sustainability as a design problem. Strictly focusing on building leading gear is no longer an option for us — we must apply the same design ethos to solving problems of broader social and environmental relevance. Great gear should be able to last through multiple users, and Rock Solid Used Gear is our solution."

As part of the Rock Solid Used Gear program offered in the US, customers can bring used gear into local Arc'teryx stores or use the online mail-in portal to start the trade in process. The gear will then be assessed and gear that is deemed as lightly worn to excellent condition, with the inner label still attached, will be eligible to receive a gift card of 20 percent of the product's original retail price. Any items that cannot be resold, but are still functional, will be donated to organizations with outdoor programs that need gear. The brand is exploring circular solutions such as repurposing and upcycling for items that have reached the end of their useful life and cannot be repaired to a functional state. The Rock Solid Used Gear program will also allow customers to trade in products for different sizes or colors as their lives and preferences change.

"Our company's origins are in innovative design thinking to solve industry challenges," said Director of Sustainability Drummond Lawson. "We apply this same mentality to environmental problems. Our products are built to last but, to keep them in service as long as feasible, we realized that our business models also needed innovation. Rock Solid Used Gear is the result — a platform that gets more users into great gear — and helps lower the footprint of our company by spreading the impact of producing our gear over many more days of use."