Over 75,000 People Trace their Garments back to the Farm

Monday, 02 November 2009
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Wellington, New Zealand (2 November 2009) – More than 75,000 people have used a revolutionary garment traceability programme launched by New Zealand merino pioneer Icebreaker a year ago.

Icebreaker’s Baacode programme allows people to trace the merino wool in their garment back through the supply chain to the stations (farms) in New Zealand’s Southern Alps, where it was grown. They can meet the growers and see inside the factories where the wool was cleaned, spun and sewn into garments.

Traceability is increasingly used in the food industry, but is very rarely available in clothing. Much of the environmental damage caused by the garment industry is the result of manufacturers buying cheap fabric from middle men without taking any responsibility for how the fabric was made. Icebreaker, however, takes responsibility for its merino wool while it is still on the sheep’s back, and has always had a core commitment to sustainability and ethical manufacturing.

Icebreaker invested more than US$400,000 in software design and systems improvements to allow it to launch Baacode in November 2008.

“Baacode proves that consumers do care about where and how their products are made,” says Jeremy Moon, Icebreaker Founder and CEO. “Icebreaker is committed to sustainability, and we believe it starts with transparency and traceability.”

Moon announced that Icebreaker is expanding its Baacode program in its spring/summer 2010 season to include socks. People who buy Icebreaker socks – for everyday use, as well as specialist socks for mountaineering, running, cycling and skiing – will be able to use their socks’ unique Baacode to trace the wool back to New Zealand sheep stations.

In addition, 20 more New Zealand sheep stations have been added to the Baacode programme. Interviews and videos of growers can also be seen on icebreaker.com and YouTube.

Icebreaker prohibits the practice of mulesling, and has stringent guidelines for the treatment of sheep and sheepdogs.

It requires its manufacturing partners to demonstrate strong business ethics, and be part of (or working towards) a global quality assurance and global environmental assurance programme. Manufacturers must respect their workers and provide them with a caring, community environment that includes good natural light, clean air and healthy working conditions. Workers must be paid above the prevailing minimum wage, given three meals a day and offered accommodation if necessary.

About Icebreaker
Launched in 1994, Icebreaker was the first company in the world to develop a merino fibre layering system for the outdoors. It was also the first outdoor apparel company in the world to source merino directly from growers, a system it began in 1997. There are now 10 distinct pure merino fabrics in the Icebreaker system, covering underwear, mid layer, and outerwear. Icebreaker is sold in more than 2,000 stores in 24 countries throughout Europe, Asia, Australasia and North America. Based in Wellington, New Zealand, Icebreaker uses only pure merino hand-picked from 120 high country stations in the country's Southern Alps to create edgy outdoor clothing that combines nature's work with human technology and design. The company is committed to sustainability, ethical manufacturing and animal welfare. In 2008 the company launched “Icebreaker Baacode,” a pioneering supply chain transparency and traceability program. Each Icebreaker includes a unique Baacode, which enables customers to trace the garment online from rearing the sheep through to each stage of the supply chain process. Info at www.icebreaker.com.

David Johnston

David Johnston

David Johnston has been introducing people to the sport of sea kayaking for the past 15 years. He is a senior instructor trainer with Paddle Canada and teaches for several paddling schools in Ontario, Canada. Full Bio.

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