Major Apparel Brands Join Forces for Responsible Down

urlTextile Exchange, a global nonprofit dedicated to sustainability in the apparel and textile industry, announced today that leading fashion, footwear and outdoor brands, including H&M and Eddie Bauer, will join The North Face in adopting the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) – a third-party certified animal welfare and traceability standard that upholds the ethical treatment of animals along the down and feather supply chain. The North Face initially worked with Textile Exchange and Control Union Certification, an accredited third-party certification body, to design version 1.0 of the standard, which was launched earlier this year.

Upon completion of the RDS in January 2014, The North Face gifted the standard to Textile Exchange to administer and evolve it as needed, as well as work with more brands and down suppliers to implement the standard. As part of this effort, Textile Exchange is evolving the standard through a stakeholder feedback process that includes input from brands and NGOs such as Adidas, Outdoor European Group, Outdoor Industry Association, and Four Paws.

“As more brands adopt the RDS, it will bring improved animal welfare conditions and better traceability in the down supply chain at a much larger scale than any one organization or one supply chain could accomplish alone,” said Anne Gillespie, Director of Industry Integrity of Textile Exchange.

Down and feathers that are used in apparel, bedding and home goods are traditionally sourced from geese and duck that are grown for the food industry — and in recent years animal welfare groups have raised concerns about live-plucking and force-feeding practices found among certain suppliers. In response, Textile Exchange and its partners worked with a diverse set of stakeholders and did extensive research, including visiting the sourcing regions in remote areas of Europe and Asia, to fully understand conditions and address issues along the global down supply chain in its creation of the standard.

The RDS provides the most comprehensive, global, third-party certified animal welfare and traceability standard for down and feathers – and is available for use by any company. Additionally, the RDS goes beyond preventing practices such as force-feeding and live-plucking to also provide requirements for food and water quality, animal health and hygiene, and pest and predator control for down suppliers.

“We couldn’t be more excited to see the adoption of the RDS across the outdoor industry as well as fashion, apparel and athletic brands such as Eddie Bauer and H&M. These brands are helping lead the charge to transform the down supply chain in an entirely new way,” said Adam Mott, Director of Sustainability at The North Face. “When we set out to develop the RDS, we knew that in order to truly succeed we had to create something that was global, open and adaptable. Today we are seeing the realization of this vision – and yet it is only the beginning.”

The North Face has committed to 100 percent certified and responsibly sourced down across all product lines by 2017, and other brands have committed to introducing certified down into their products as soon as Fall 2015.

Nayelli Gonzalez

Nayelli Gonzalez is the Director of Marketing & Communications at Conveners.org, a capacity building organization that supports the growing ecosystem of impact-focused conveners and accelerators. A sustainability innovation strategist and storyteller dedicated to purpose-driven work, Nayelli has advised startups, small businesses and Fortune 500 companies to drive engagement and amplify positive impact in the world. She's a trained journalist with an MBA who writes on sustainable business and social impact trends for a variety of publications.

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