Patagonia, the outdoor clothing company with a heart, has made multiple moves toward sustainable sourcing and production, the latest of which will be the use of 100 percent traceable down for the entire collection of down-insulated products starting with the Fall 2014 line.
The company announced Wednesday that the new “Traceable Down” program would only source down from birds that haven’t been force-fed to make foie gras or plucked for their feathers and down during their lifetime, a standard, Patagonia says, “provides a robust assurance of sound animal welfare.” This move has been six years in the making and will make Patagonia the largest apparel manufacturer to use strictly responsibly sourced down.
Patagonia says they won’t be accepting written guarantees or supplier-self certification claiming the down has been sourced to their standards–they’ll have their eyes on all parts of the supply chain. The production process will be vetted with an audit that includes a farm to factory inspection of the supply chain done by a third-party traceability expert.
Wendy Savage, social and environmental responsibility manager for Patagonia said, “Patagonia’s traceability program is hands-on every step of the way.” She went on to explain the planned process, saying, “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.”
Because of its light-weight but highly insulating properties, down is a major part of Patagonia’s product line. The company said in a press release, “Due to this importance, as with every product Patagonia sells, the company feels a deep sense of responsibility to understand the entire supply chain. As in the past with organic cotton and recycled polyester, Patagonia hopes to inspire other companies to look closely at their own down supply chains and utilize the model now established by Patagonia for down traceability.”