Leadership in Practice: Setting Industry Standards with The North Face®

VF's The North Face® brand is built on designing products to enable exploration to the far corners of the world. These technical, lightweight products allow consumers to push their limits while keeping them warm and dry. Diverse materials are required to support these explorations, including ultra-light and ultra-warm down from geese. Unfortunately, it came to our attention that the harvesting of the goose down was plagued with challenges and the material was not sourced as responsibly and humanely as it should be.

The down supply chain is complex and the animals and materials typically change hands many times, making traceability difficult. After extensive fieldwork and stakeholder engagement, it was clear that improving the ethical treatment of the geese was going to require setting a standard of expectations, supported by auditing and certification.

The North Face® brand partnered with Textile Exchange and Control Union Certifications to develop a standard to ensure that our down does not come from animals that have been subjected to any unnecessary harm, such as force-feeding or live-plucking, and to validate and track the down used in our products from farm to finished garment. The Responsible Down Standard (RDS) was launched in 2014 and made available to any brand wanting to ensure their goose down is responsibly sourced. The North Face® brand gifted the RDS to Textile Exchange, which now manages and regularly updates the RDS.

By 2019, VF and our brands will only purchase RDS-certified down. Several of our brands are already conducting certifications and training as well as considering the potential of and market for product labeling.

The RDS is an example of how we approach using our scale to be a force for good. By using our passion, expertise, global network and influence in the industry, we can continue to solve problems that improve our entire industry's impacts.