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10/26/2014

Ten Brands Commit to Responsible Down Standard

Allied Feather & Down, primary supplier of down certified to Textile Exchange's Responsible Down Standard (RDS), is now supplying RDS-certified down to brands in the outdoor, home and bedding, and fashion markets including: The North Face, Eddie Bauer, Marmot, Mammut, Nau, Outdoor Research, Helly Hansen, Montane, Down Linens, and Down & Feather Co

The Responsible Down Standard (RDS), which launched in Jan. 2014, is a third-party certified animal welfare and traceability standard to help ensure humane treatment of geese and ducks from goslings to finished products. RDS-certified down is expected to hit retail in select Fall 2015 lines.

The goal of the RDS is to protect animals from harm and enable traceability at a global scale throughout the entire down industry.  Early adoption of RDS down by world-renowned brands signifies the importance of such an initiative and represents a major step forward for the RDS in becoming a global standard for shifting the industry towards better practices.

Down and feather are by-products of waterfowl that are farm-raised for their food supply and industrial farming of animals poses the potential for mistreatment. Public concern originating from animal welfare groups to issues such as live-plucking and force-feeding elicited the need for more transparency in the down industry specifically, which sparked the concept of the Responsible Down Standard. In 2012, The North Face in partnership with Control Union Certifications, an accredited third-party certification body, and Textile Exchange, a global nonprofit dedicated to sustainability in the textile industry, developed the concept for the standard, which first involved developing a clear understanding of where the down was coming from.  Needing to start with the very beginning of the supply chain, the group called on Allied.

Allied recognized the importance of facilitating greater transparency in how its down is procured and sourced. Allied supported the research and development of the standard by walking Control Union through every step of its supply chain, evaluating conditions and identifying where auditing should take place as a way to certify that there is no live-plucking, force-feeding or any other mistreatment of animals, from gosling to finished product. Allied then became the first supplier to adopt the standard when it launched in January 2014. Allied has also began offering educational seminars for brands, retailers, media and industry stakeholders on origins of down and responsible sourcing.

"We are pleased to see the entire down industry talking about these issues and taking ownership of animal welfare and responsible sourcing.  Transparency is key—starting at the source. Allied has been 100 percent on board throughout the development of this standard and we will remain committed to it as a leading supplier of RDS certified down and educator on responsible sourcing," said Daniel Uretsky, president of Allied Feather & Down.

Earlier this summer, Allied's supply chains in Europe and Asia and its U.S. processing facilities were audited and certified by Control Union. Completion of these certifications has enabled Allied to offer RDS Certified down to buyers in the outdoor, home and bedding, and fashion industries.

"Having such a diverse and well respected group of brands adopt the RDS so quickly is great news," said Anne Gillespie, director of industry integrity at the Textile Exchange. "It will certainly help this new industry standard to gain momentum, and ultimately bring about the shift in industry practices that is our ultimate goal."

According to Uretsky, many of its vendor partners are finding peace of mind in using RDS certified down. It offers insurance for brands and assurance for consumers and NGOs that leading brands are taking the greatest measures possible to ensure responsible sourcing of the down used in their products.  A brand's corporate social responsibility (CSR) stance is an important consideration for consumers; they want to make responsible purchases. Knowing that the down inside their jacket came from well-treated animals assures consumers that the brand they choose to wear adheres to their own values.

"Down is a critical component of mountain clothing and ensuring that it is competently and respectfully sourced is a responsibility any brand in the outdoor industry must ensure," said Paul Cosgrove, brand director of Montane. "RDS down from Allied can professionally provide this with a high specialism and quality that few can achieve. It's for this reason we will use RDS down from Allied Feather & Down."

Allied encourages brands to adopt the RDS so that they may ensure animal welfare and they may reassure their customers that they are choosing the most responsibly made products.