Animal welfare report: Best and worst outdoor brands

Latest analysis of 100 major brands by Four Paws exposes critical gaps and poor performers in animal welfare in several familiar brands. Find out which outdoor brands performed best – and worst – below.

The third edition of Four Paws’ Animal Welfare in Fashion report in collaboration with Good on You assesses and rates 100 international companies regarding their policies and commitments to improve animal welfare and reduce the use of animal-derived-materials (ADMs).

The report covers brands across nine market segments, including sports and fast fashion brands such as Nike and Zara. Of the Outdoor brands that use any animal-derived materials, Patagonia, Icebreaker and Kathmandu came out on top in animal welfare. The brands in the “Outdoor” segment that failed to deliver most, meanwhile, were Canada Goose, Superdry, and L.L. Bean.

Global animal welfare organization Four Paws welcomes the progress by higher scoring brands but is critical of the lack of meaningful action from most brands. Considering that over five billion animals are used for fashion each year, having their welfare as a top priority for fashion companies must become a new trend.

While 72% of the selected brands have animal welfare policies, many lacked real impact for animals. The report also highlighted that a policy aimed only at the use of certified materials is not enough for brands to ensure excellent standards of animal welfare.

“While ensuring adequate care of animals used is crucial to any claims of responsible business, brands are still generally washing their hands of animals’ needs, while others attempt to ‘welfare-wash’ over consumer concerns,” shares Ranny Rustam, Animal Welfare in Textiles Research Lead at Four Paws.

“Thankfully some companies are increasingly demonstrating leadership in animal welfare, and our research in 2023 does bring some hope – but a monumental step forward by the industry is needed before consumers can start to feel confident about the welfare of animals used to make their cozy knits and down jackets.”

More kindness through refinement of materials

While certification rates for the world’s supply of mohair (27%) and cashmere (7%) are on the rise, certified wool and down make up less than 5% of the global supply. And while animal welfare certifications can help to mitigate the risks of one or more cruel practices in certified supply chains, e.g. mulesing in wool production and live plucking in down and feather production, most certifications are currently lacking in requirements which are crucial to animals’ overall positive welfare state.

“Using animal welfare certifications are a key way to ensure that the animal material supply chain is adequately traced, and in most cases the best way to ensure minimum animal welfare standards are met. This is the absolute minimum a brand should be doing,” says Ranny Rustam, before continuing:

“While 61% of rated brands are using at least one type of certified ADM, very few brands (9%) have a majority of their supply chains certified.”

Raccoon on a fur farm in Jarosty Poland (Photo: Four Paws)

Underneath it all lies severe risks of public health and climate issues

The commercial exploitation and trade of wild animals brings incalculable risks to public health. Yet 18% of brands were found to still have used materials derived from wild animals. However, a noticeable decline in fur production and consumption is visible throughout the last years, resulting in three out of seven brands that used fur in 2021, going fur-free by now.

Moreover, the report also noted material production and processing are responsible for up to 70% of the fashion industry’s carbon emissions, helping to fuel the climate crisis. Considering materials from ruminants such as sheep and cows are inherently high emitters of GHGs, reducing their usage is a key way for brands to drastically reduce the environmental impacts associated with their material choices.

Ranny Rustam therfore concludes with the following recommendations to industry:

“Having a clear vision, backed by measurable and time-bound goals, should guide brands in their commitment to refine, reduce, and replace the use of their materials. This involves certifying ADMs to recycled or welfare standards, lowering reliance on such materials, and investing in innovative alternatives. To achieve this, brands can collaborate with innovators to overcome adoption barriers and promote scalability, for a kinder and environmentally conscious future.”


Access the full report here and see how your favorite brand performed.


Lead Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals Media


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