Textile Exchange, the global non-profit organization for sustainability in the apparel and textile industry, isworking together with a number of leading fashion labels to highlight the use of sustainable and ethically sourced down.
The organization has established a certification for ethical down, known as the Responsible Down Standard (RDS), which is applicable to to every component in the water fowl sourcing chain, from chick to end product, to ensure the better treatment of the birds.
Down and feathers are traditionally sourced from waterfowl which are marked for the food industry, however as with any animal bred for industrial purpose, there is always the inevitable risk of animal abuse and welfare issues.
H&M, Eddie Bauer, The North Face, Marmot, Helly Hansen, Outdoor Research, Down & Feather Co., along with other international fashion and outdoor brand have accepted this standard.The RDS aims to create a chain of total traceability of down, to help bring around change within the down industry as a whole, whilst improving the waterfowl current conditions. The RDS also aims to eradicate the force-feeding and live plucking of waterbirds.
Labels who wish to comply to the RDS standards must also follow regulations regarding food, water, housing, outdoor access as well as health and hygiene. "By committing to higher traceability through the RDS, brands are taking more responsibility for animal welfare in their down supply chains," commented Nina Jamal, International Farm Animals Campaigner at Four Paws, who has worked alongside with the Textile Exchange on the standard.
The certification was first launched this January, but since its introduction several fashion brands, such as H&M, The North Face and Helly Hansen have pledged to source certified down for their collection from Fall/Winter 2015. “I am proud of the effort that went into the development of the RDS,” said Anne Gillespie, Director of Industry Integrity, Textile Exchange.
“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.”