The North Face initially committed to include 100 percent certified responsible down in all retail and wholesale down products by fall 2017, but was able to achieve the goal a year sooner than anticipated.
“Down provides the most compressible warmth without the weight, offering superior insulation and comfort,” said Joe Vernachio, global vice president of product at The North Face. “We’ve been working hard to integrate RDS-certified down across our entire down product line. 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.”
Launched in January 2014, the RDS is a comprehensive, third-party, global-certified animal welfare and traceability standard for down and feathers available for use by any company.
The North Face brand’s fall line incorporates more than 500 down-insulated apparel pieces, including the Morph Jacket, a weather-resistant, extremely compressive piece using woven-baffle construction instead of stitching.
The North Face said it has remained committed to improving animal welfare and traceability in the down and feather supply chain since 2012, when the company partnered with the nonprofit Textile Exchange and Control Union Certifications, an accredited third-party certification body, to create the Responsible Down Standard. The primary mandate of the RDS is to prevent practices such as force-feeding and live-plucking, as well as provide strict requirements on issues such as food and water quality, housing, stock density, outdoor access, animal health, hygiene and pest and predator control, all supported with traceability from hatchling to final product.
The North Face gifted the RDS to Textile Exchange with the goal of scaling the standard to other brands and industries. Today, that vision is being realized with more than 40 brands from the outdoor, apparel and home industries having initiated certification of their supply chains to the RDS, about 500 million birds are under RDS certification at the farm level, and some 1,200 sites in Europe, Asia and North America are certified by RDS, including 900 industrial farms.
“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,” said Anne Gillespie, director of industry integrity for textile exchange. “The North Face has been a real driver in creating the demand that has fueled the momentum we are seeing.”