Textile Exchange, a global nonprofit dedicated to sustainability in the apparel and textile industry, says that H&M, Eddie Bauer, The North Face, Marmot, Mammut, Helly Hansen, Outdoor Research and other leading international fashion, bedding and outdoor brands have adopted its Responsible Down Standard (RDS): a third-party certification standard that can be applied to any waterfowl‐based supply chain to help ensure humane treatment of animals, from gosling to end product.
The goal of the RDS is to enable traceability and change the down industry as a whole, not just one brand’s supply chain. Certain brands have committed to introducing certified down into their products beginning Fall 2015, and The North Face, in particular, has committed to 100-percent certified and responsibly sourced down across all product lines by 2017.
Officially launched in January 2014, the RDS is the most comprehensive, global, third-party certified animal welfare and traceability standard for down and feathers available for use by any company.
Down — which comes from geese and ducks that are grown primarily for the food industry, essentially remains the highest‐quality, best performing material for use in apparel and home goods. Due to the attention from animal welfare groups to issues such as live‐plucking and force-feeding, in late 2012, The North Face combined forces with Textile Exchange and Control Union Certifications (an accredited third-party certification body) to design and implement the RDS across primary sourcing regions in Europe and Asia, and in U.S. processing sites. This included working closely with leading suppliers Allied Feather & Down and Downlite to analyze and certify each step of the down supply chain.
Upon completion of the standard, The North Face then gifted the work to Textile Exchange to administer and to evolve the standard as needed with the hope of engaging more brands and down suppliers to implement RDS. Evolution will take place through stakeholder feedback processes including input from NGOs such as the European Outdoor Group and Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), as well as animal protection groups.
The primary mandate of the RDS is to prevent practices such as force-‐feeding and live-‐plucking as well as provide strict approvals on issues such as food and water quality, housing, stock density and outdoor access, animal health, hygiene and pest and predator control, among others. For more information visit textileexchange.org/RDS.
“We did extensive research, including visiting the sourcing regions in remote areas of Europe and Asia to fully understand the conditions we had to address, and worked with a diverse set of stakeholders that gave us a broad perspective of the issues,” said Textile Exchange director of industry Anne Gillespie. “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.”