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Sustainability as Transparency

Especially within the ORE, sustainability is the price of entry for brands, communities, organizations, and other entities. Transparency is a huge part of this. Not only is it simply the right thing to do by people and planet (re: moral imperative), it shows consumers that they are their partners when it comes to healing the planet. The degree to which a brand is transparent is directly correlated to the degree to which the brand is vulnerable and open with its consumers, to which the brand is willing to admit that while they have made some progress, they still have room to improve. Furthermore, it also empowers consumers to demand further change or adapted action from their favorite brands, giving them a seat at the table as stakeholders.

In an age where everything seems to be labelled as "sustainable" in some way, this level of dedication to transparency, vulnerability, and forgoing greenwashing is becoming increasingly important when it comes to achieving actual sustainability.

Fjallraven is doing excellent work in this regard. Not only do they design and field test their products with integrity, they also partner with top-level organizations such as the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and the Fair Labor Association. Furthermore, Fjallraven has internal several internal initiatives such as their Down Promise, Animal Welfare Policy, Chemical Guideline, and Code of Conduct. Each one of these efforts is published on their website and goes into detail about the 100% traceability of the down-chain of their down, the ethical treatment and sourcing of all of their animal byproducts, as well as general supply chain standards they've implemented (i.e. worker's rights, fair compensation, workplace safety, etc.).

Icebreaker goes even further and provides super in-depth reporting of the entirety of its supply chain, from its growers, to its processors, manufacturers, and end product. While the standalone sites dedicated to each of these stages is impressive by itself, icebreaker makes a point to link its latest Transparency Report anywhere it can. This document is extensive, its latest 2021-2022 report being almost 100 pages long. From the physical locations/addresses of its wool suppliers, processors, and product manufacturers, to the last date they were audited, to the specific pathway each of their materials takes through their supply chain, icebreaker spares nothing when it comes to educating and empowering their consumers.

This is to say nothing of the other information they provide on their synthetic materials and their stance of PCFs and PFAs. Ultimately, this is what the Outdoor Industry Association would call Aspirational -- supply chain management, transparency, and traceability all the way through to its Tier 4 suppliers.

Are these steps scalable? Certainly, but transparency in the supply chain after a brand has grown to a substantial size will generally be more difficult than for a smaller brand, just by the number of firms involved in the supply chain network.

In other words, the more organized entities are internally, the better set up they are to achieve and maintain transparency as they grow and change. To that end, transparency and vulnerability can even be a great first step for brands looking to adopt sustainable practice but haven't taken any action yet.

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