It’s been a busy fall for Patagonia — the outdoor apparel company kicked off October with the launch of its “Responsible Economy” campaign, which challenges consumers and businesses to think more consciously about disposability and resource allocation, and ended the month by announcing its plans to offer Fair Trade Certified™ apparel, beginning in Fall 2014.
This week, on top of its proactive approach to transparency, as demonstrated through its Footprint Chronicles® website, the company has announced a deeper dive into supply chain accountability by committing to featuring 100 percent Traceable Down across its entire collection of down-insulated products, also starting in Fall of 2014. The company says Patagonia® Traceable Down is sourced from birds that have been neither force-fed for foie gras production nor plucked for their feathers and down during their lifetime. Six years in the making, Patagonia's Traceable Down standard provides a robust assurance of sound animal welfare and a high bar for other companies to aspire to.
The company says it authenticates its down supply chain through a holistic traceability audit, which includes a physical inspection of the entire supply chain from farm to factory, performed by independent, third-party traceability experts.
"Affidavits from suppliers are commonly accepted with minimal verification. It is also common practice to certify only parts of the supply chain without linking all entities that handle the down," says Wendy Savage, social and environmental responsibility manager for Patagonia. "Patagonia's traceability program is hands-on every step of the way. We begin our audit at the parent farm, where the eggs are laid, and follow it all the way to the garment factory, where the down is placed in our garments. We need to understand every single part of the supply chain – otherwise we can't truly feel comfortable claiming the down as traceable."
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Down provides the lightest-weight and most efficient insulation commercially available, making Patagonia’s down-insulated jackets one of their most popular clothing items.
As it already has with organic cotton and recycled polyester, Patagonia says it hopes to inspire other companies to look closely at their own down supply chains and utilize the holistic model it has established for down traceability.