Traceability at prAna
While we might not go as far as wanting to know the name of the cotton plant that grew our organic cotton, we do want to trace it through its life from a bowl of fiber all the way through to our products. That seems like a lot of work to know that the content of our products is what we say it is. But we think it is pretty important. We want to make sure that what we sell our customers is in fact what we claim it to be.
“The beauty of our community of customers is that they are inspiring, influential and culturally aware. They have a clear understanding of our undertaking as a brand, which is to reduce prAna’s impact on our global resources and pave a new way of manufacturing. We want to step up to their expectations and stress test our own data to provide the most accurate information for them.” ~Alison Metcalfe, Product Developer: Men’s & Accessories
This has been a key value to our brand, one that has actually garnered us some attention from the industry. In 2012 Textile Exchange – the industry non-profit focusing on providing sustainable material change wrote a case study about prAna’s traceability program. Check it out.
But we couldn’t track our products if there was not a great system in place to help us. And that system is one for certification. For many years there was only the ability to trace organic cotton. This could be done 1 of 2 ways, through a chain of custody standard called Organic Exchange Blended (for blended fibers, or Organic Exchange 100 for 100% organic cotton content). And the second is through the Global Organic Textile Standard that also certifies environmental and social attributes of the supply chain.
In 2011 it was identified that there are a lot more materials in apparel that would benefit from a standard that would certify any content. And Textile Exchange went to the hard work to develop the Content Claims Standard, which set the groundwork for a new standard for any Organic material with the Organic Content Standard.
prAna played an active role in the development of these 2 standards and recently was involved in the development of the new Recycled Content Standard (RCS).
“It was a great experience being a part of the development of this standard. Following the lead of the Organic Content Claim Standard, the new Recycled Content Standard will be incredibly beneficial for companies across many industries when establishing, clarifying and organizing the requirements of claiming “recycled” on their products. This standard will also help keep the legitimacy of claims traceable throughout the supply chain.” ~Kevin Markgraf, Production
prAna has worked for 4 years to set clear direction and requirements for our suppliers to provide the right certification. We are really proud that we can collect the correct information to be able to prove our claims and support our suppliers who go to great lengths to ensure accuracy of the products we sell.
We also trace materials that do not have certifications associated with them, and that is because there are some materials with a level of controversy like wool, down and recently highlighted the forest practices of where our tree fibers like rayon and viscose come from.
In light of our recent publication of prAna’s Forest Products Initiatives we also wanted to share what we request for those Forest Fibers.
From our Traceability requirements:
prAna aims to eliminate any wood fibers from endangered, ancient forest regions or controversial sources of trees in fabrics like Rayon, Modal, Lyocell etc. Based on this prAna encourages alternative sources for dissolving pulp including agricultural residues or recycled, and where tree fiber is unavoidable prAna is seeking to only source from FSC certification plantations.
“We are consciously considering the environment when we select fibers, yarns and fabrics. We request mills to select organic cotton, or take out the rayon and substitute another fiber. Our goal is to seek out safe fabrics to wear that are free of toxic chemicals or over processing of natural resources and then to be able to trace them.” ~Tara Ritacco, Product Developer & Materials Sourcing
Getting into the weeds to bring GOOD Products to our customers is something we thrive on. In our mind, the details do matter.
~Nicole Bassett, Director of Sustainability