One year earlier than expected, The North Face will use 100 percent certified responsible down in all of the retail and wholesale down products in its Fall 2016 line.
The down fill will be certified through the Responsible Down Standard (RDS), which the company contributed to in partnership with global non-profit organization Textile Exchange and accredited third-party certification body Control Union Certifications. The RDS ensures that inhumane practices such as force-feeding and live-plucking are absent from the supply chain, and provides strict requirements on issues such as food and water quality, housing, stock density, outdoor access, animal health, hygiene and pest and predator control, among others, all supported with traceability from hatchling to final product. It aims to encourage best practices in animal welfare and enable consumers to make informed choices based on accurate labelling.
The RDS was officially launched in January 2014, and The North Face set goals to include 30 percent certified down in its Fall 2015 line, 60 percent in its Fall 2016 line, and 100 percent in its Fall 2017 line. After a lot of training, audits, cooperation, and hard work, the company met its goal a full year early. The brand’s Fall 2016 line will include more than 500 down-insulated apparel pieces globally.
“Down provides the most compressible warmth without the weight, offering superior insulation and comfort,” said Joe Vernachio, Global VP of Product, The North Face. “We’ve been working hard to integrate RDS-certified down across our entire down product line. It took a team effort, and we’re proud to say that now our customers can take comfort in knowing their down products were sourced from the highest quality, responsible down available.”
Textile Exchange and Control Union Certifications now lead the RDS certification and have scaled the standard to other brands and industries. To date, more than 40 brands from the outdoor, apparel and home industries have initiated certification of their supply chains to the RDS, including H&M, Eddie Bauer, Marmot, Mammut, Helly Hansen, Outdoor Research, DownLinens, Down & Feather Co., adidas Group, REI, Black Diamond, Kathmandu, NAU, and Timberland. It is estimated that 500 million birds are under RDS certification at the farm level – over 1200 sites in Europe, Asia, and North America are RDS-certified, including 900 industrial farms.
“We’re thrilled to see complete integration of RDS-certified down into The North Face down products this fall,” said Anne Gillespie, Director of Industry Integrity for Textile Exchange. “Over the last year, many farm groups, processors, garment factories and trading units all became certified by RDS, providing a surge in the availability of responsible down to the growing number of brands who are demanding it. The North Face has been a real driver in creating the demand that has fueled the momentum we are seeing.”
Patagonia launched its own standard in 2013, the 100% Traceable Down Standard, and had fully implemented it on schedule in 2014. Through a partnership with certification organization NSF International and industry stakeholders, it evolved into the multi-tiered Global Traceable Down Standard in 2015.