The North Face will hand over ownership of its new Responsible Down Standard (RDS) to Textile Exchange in a bid to accelerate its adoption across the industry, the company announced Wednesday at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market.
Moving forward Textile Exchange will have full rights to distribute and update the RDS as it sees fit.
“We are giving the Responsible Down Standard to the public in order to provide a holistic tool for any organization seeking to source down more responsibly,” said Adam Mott, senior manager of sustainability at The North Face and pictured to the right. “Our hope is that the collective use of the RDS will effectively promote positive animal welfare conditions and traceability in the down supply chain at a much larger scale than we could accomplish alone.”
Once Textile Exchange takes ownership of the RDS, it will be conducting a rapid-review process, where it will gather field data from users as well as feedback from additional industry partners with the goal of releasing the next version of the RDS within six to 12 months. Both Textile Exchange and The North Face hope that other companies will take part in using the RDS and contributing feedback.
“We applaud The North Face for its efforts and leadership in developing a comprehensive standard that can be applied to the global down supply chain,” said Anne Gillespie, director of industry integrity at Textile Exchange. “We look forward to building on the foundation it has created in the coming months to continue to drive sustainable change in the outdoor and textiles industry.”
Later this year, The North Face will work with its down suppliers and Control Union to conduct the initial application of the RDS across its global supply chain. This will include onsite audits at every level of the supply chain from hatchery to garment manufacturing and will result in a percentage of down that is formally certified and traceable by the requirements of the RDS. This down will be available in its products starting Fall 2015.
Currently down is the lightest, warmest material available on the market that can provide the level of protection needed to survive extreme environments. In the last few years, many outdoor brands have made a push to develop synthetic materials that mimic the insulation properties of down with varying degrees of success. However, down still provides the best warmth-to-weight ratio and compressibility that is available to consumers and remains an important part of product technology for many outdoor athletes.