Performance apparel manufacturers that make green claims take a lot of heat. Brands that take a strong stand seem to make other manufacturers and consumers want to poke holes in all that green goodness. It's only fair. Anyone can make vague green claims (it's called "greenwashing"), so brands that are truly making efforts to be sustainable keep looking for ways to be transparent, to communicate with customers about the entire supply chain, and create a dialogue about ever-changing manufacturing ethics. These three brands have taken their story to the most accessible platform of all -- the Web.
Icebreaker: BAA Code
Kiwi merino visionary Jeremy Moon is always looking for creative ways to use the fabric and to create a cleaner, more sustainable company. BAA Code makes the process of transparency personable. Customers can go to the company's website, type in the BAA Code from their Icebreaker garments and trace them all the way back to the New Zealand merino farm where they originated—and watch videos of the farmers and their families. To visit the website, click here.
Patagonia: The Footprint Chronicles
Patagonia's initial launch of the new mini-site lets consumers track the impacts of five specific Patagonia products from design to delivery (more products will be added this year the company tells us). It's a fascinating look at just how much impact the creation of a product causes and an admirable effort by Patagonia to avoid the dreaded greenwashing tag. This is direct accountability. We looked at the Eco Rain Shell, which we were shocked to learn generates 10 times its weight in CO2 emissions -- but that's actually a good number and less than the norm since the performance jacket is built of 100-percent recycled polyester. To visit the website, click here.
Nau: Grey Matters
This new section of Nau's website starts a conversation that dispels the myth that there is some type of unified theory of green. PLA corn fabrics sound good until you look at the ills of GMOs. Carbon offsets are ripe with controversies that green purists denounce as hypocritical. Instead of trying to spin or reduce theses issues to black-and-white, the folks at Nau admit that they are up for discussion. Sustainability is a goal that's always changing, always just over the horizon. To visit the website, click here.
-- Be sure to read the story by Doug Schnitzspahn, "The Cold Truth, Can the sustainable-fabric revolution succeed in performance outerwear?", appearing on page 30 of the 2008 Winter Outdoor GearTrends® magazine being mailed to subscribers and select industry members January 14, and distributed at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in the newstands beginning January 23.