January 10, 2018 A look inside
Transparency encourages scrutiny and accountability. Icebreaker, the natural performance clothing company, champions radical transparency with the launch of its inaugural Transparency Report.
The journey made by clothes remains largely unseen. They may have started life in a field and then travelled across a vast network in many countries, through the hands of hundreds of workers, working for dozens of different companies, before reaching our wardrobes. In the apparel industry, the wide use of agents and subcontracting can create invisible supply chains often at the expense of basic human rights.
“It is impossible for brands to ensure respect for human rights, sound environmental practices and product quality without knowing where their products are made and under what conditions,” claims Rob Fyfe, Icebreaker’s Chairman.
Yet of the top 100 global fashion brands, only 32 brands are publishing supplier lists and not one is disclosing raw materials listings.
Responsibility for the ecosystem
Icebreaker, the natural performance outdoor clothing company, was founded on the need for greater transparency, openness and honesty in the clothing industry and to pioneer the availability of nature-based performance apparel.
“We think people should know exactly what they are putting next to their skin, how it was made and all the effects their choice is having,” says Icebreaker’s founder Jeremy Moon.
Transparency enables concerned consumers to make informed decisions, scrutinize brands and build trust. Icebreaker’s inaugural transparency report gives consumers a detailed overview of the brand’s supply chain.
“We know exactly where our fiber comes from and ensure that growers uphold the strongest environmental and animal welfare standards. We know exactly where our garments are being made. We take responsibility for the whole ecosystem,’’ comments Moon.
Long-lasting and direct relationships
Icebreaker established long-term contracts with merino wool growers to guarantee ethically sourced merino and economic security for growers.
“We breed our sheep to specifically produce Icebreaker wool, and we can only do that because we have got the confidence that the contracts give us. We have signed a ten-year contract that means our kids have certainty for ten years. Well, that’s unheard of in agriculture,” says Richard Subtil, farmer from Omarma Station in North Otago, New Zealand.
Long-lasting relationships extend to Icebreaker’s factory partners – 65% of Icebreaker’s production volume is still made by the first two partners the brand started working with 13 years ago.
“Making supply chains more and more transparent does not only help to build trust in brands. It also encourages other competitors to make their manufacturing processes transparent, so that the industry as a whole benefits,” Rob Fyfe comments.
“Transparency opens us up to the deepest possible feedback.”
Icebreaker Grower Robert Butson & his daughter Kate, Mt Nicholas Station, Queenstown, New Zealand