fall winter 2012
home and merino
merino fiber benefits
With most of the things you buy, you're told little or nothing about how they're made. Icebreaker is different.
We have a deep commitment to animal welfare, the welfare of the people who work with us, and the environment. And we have nothing to hide.
Your unique Baacode will let you see the living conditions of the high country sheep that produced the merino fibre in your Icebreaker garment, meet the farmers who are custodians of this astonishing landscape, and follow every step of the supply chain. We're sure you'll find the experience as inspiring as we do. Enjoy your journey back to the source.
Environmental stewardship is not just a philosophy for Icebreaker merino growers - it's a way of life.
Merino sheep are farmed in some of New Zealand's most fragile ecosystems. The farming systems used by our growers have been developed over generations to work in harmony with nature and the environment.
Sheep are grazed extensively rather than intensively - often there is less than one sheep per acre. This minimises the impact of farming on the environment, and gives grazed pasture time to regenerate.
Our insistence on strong environmental ethics extends from the farm to every step of the supply chain. We are committed to "clean" technologies, closed loop manufacturing, and minimising energy use.
The French factory that cleans Icebreaker merino fibre recycles and cleans its water. Lanolin oils, produced as a waste product by this process, are sold to the beauty industry.
The German factory that spins the fibre reuses heat produced by processing for air conditioning, while the factory that makes Icebreaker garments conserves energy through large-volume dyeing. It also has a water recycling plant and a heat transfer plant to reuse energy for heating.
Merino fibre is renewable and biodegradable, which makes it as gentle on the environment at the end of its life as it is at the beginning.
Sweatshops and pollution are usually the result of traders sourcing cheap, unethically-produced fabric at low cost and putting their name on it. We think this practice is wrong, and we launched Icebreaker to help prove it's possible to create a clothing company that respects people and nature.
We buy merino fibre directly from growers and take responsibility for every step of the production process.
We chose our manufacturing partners very carefully, and monitor them to see they meet our strict ethical requirements.
Our manufacturers are required to demonstrate strong business ethics, and have an up-to-date manufacturing plant and access to the latest technology.
They must be part of, or working towards, a global quality assurance programme (such as ISO 9001). They must also be part of, or working towards, a global environmental assurance programme (such as ISO 14001), and/or comply with Oeko-Tex environmental standards for textiles.
Manufacturers must also be working to incorporate sustainable practices into their business.
We require our manufacturers to respect their workers and provide them with a caring, community environment that includes good natural light, clean air and healthy working conditions. Workers are paid above the prevailing minimum wage, given three meals a day and offered accommodation if necessary.
More than one million sheep supply Icebreaker with merino fibre. These hardy free-range merinos roam the mountains, grazing on pasture, and are given extra feed at times of year when the pasture grows slowly.
We pioneered the practice of signing contracts for our future fibre needs directly with high country merino growers. This gives growers the security of knowing they can plan their future fibre production ahead of time; in return, they agree to meet our strict animal welfare requirements.These five non-negotiable requirements are:
- Freedom from thirst and hunger.
- Provision of appropriate comfort and shelter.
- Prevention of (or rapid diagnosis and treatment of) injury, disease or parasite infestation.
- Freedom from distress.
- The ability to display normal patterns of behaviour.
Our suppliers must also meet Icebreaker's standard of care of sheep dogs.
Merino sheep in some parts of the world are mulesed, which involves removing strips of skin around the tail to prevent flystrike. Icebreaker strictly prohibits mulesing in its contracts with growers.