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The North Face Reaches Responsible Down Goal a Year Early

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The North Face parkaThe joke’s on retailers as temperatures are finally starting to drop along the East Coast—just as they’re gearing up for the spring season. And while high-end outerwear brands Moncler and Canada Goose have managed to weather the non-storm by becoming bonafide luxury items, The North Face is banking on sustainability to see it through unpredictable climes.

The Alameda, California-based company announced Friday that its Fall 2016 collection will include more than 500 products featuring 100 percent certified responsible down—a year sooner than anticipated.

The outdoor clothing and lifestyle brand, which helped to create and implement the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) for down and feathers across primary sourcing regions in late 2012, had initially committed to include RDS-certified responsible down in all retail and wholesale down products by Fall 2017.

“Down provides the most compressible warmth without the weight, offering superior insulation and comfort,” Joe Vernachio, global vice president of product at The North Face, stated. “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.”

The North Face’s Fall ’16 line includes the Morph jacket, an 800 fill power, weather-resistant product featuring a woven-baffle construction instead of stitched or welded baffles.

It’s all part of the brand’s continued commitment to animal welfare and traceability in the down and feather supply chain. The primary mandate of the RDS—which the company gifted to Textile Exchange with the goal of scaling the standard to other brands and industries—is to prevent such bad behavior as force-feeding and live-plucking, as well as provide strict requirements on food and water quality, housing, stock density, outdoor access, animal health, hygiene and pest and predator control, to name a few issues, all supported with traceability from hatchling to final product.

Today, more than 40 brands from the outdoor, apparel and home industries have initiated certification of their supply chains to the RDS, while more than 1,200 sites in Europe, Asia and North America are RDS-certified to date, including 900 industrial farms. In addition, an estimated 500 million birds are under RDS certification at the farm level.

“We’re thrilled to see complete integration of RDS-certified down into The North Face down products this fall,” Anne Gillespie, director of industry integrity for the Textile Exchange, shared. “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.”

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