Throughout its history, down has been at the heart of each and every Moncler jacket, and has gradually come to be identified with the brand itself.
A combination of lengthy experience and continuous research and development has enabled the Company to gain unique expertise in this area, both in terms of knowledge of down as a raw material and of the jacket manufacturing process. Moncler requires all its suppliers to comply with the highest quality standards. Over the years, these standards have been – and indeed remain – a key feature that differentiates Moncler products.
Yet for the Company, “quality” is something more than this: the origin of its down and respect for animal welfare are also fundamental for Moncler. When sourcing and purchasing the raw material, these aspects are held to be as important as the quality of the down itself.
The technical qualities of Moncler down are the result of a well-structured process that ensures that only the best white goose down is used in the brand’s products. Each batch of down is subjected to a two-step checking procedure to assess its compliance with 11 key quality parameters (including health and cleanness), set in accordance with the strictest international standards and the stringent requirements imposed by the Company. The first of these checks involves a series of sophisticated analyses, carried out by an accredited independent body, while the second sees that the down undergoes further tests at Moncler’s own laboratory where highly-specialised down technicians work. In 2015, a total of around 800 tests were performed.
Down cluster content and fill power are the main indicators of down quality.
Moncler products contain at least 90% down clusters and only 10% feathers/small feathers. This high percentage of down cluster is a guarantee of a high fill power, or the ability of the down to occupy volume. The higher the fill power, the better the performance of the down in terms of lightness, thermal capacity and insulating properties. Moncler down boasts a fill power equal to or greater than 710 (cubic inches per 30 grams of down), resulting in a warm, soft, light and uniquely comfortable product.
Under the Protocol, animal welfare is assessed using an innovative approach. Alongside the traditional approach which considers the environment in which the animal lives (availability of food and water, adequate space for movement, etc.), the DIST Protocol – in line with the latest European Commission guidelines – assesses welfare on the basis of careful observation of the animal itself, through the so-called Animal-Based Measures (ABM)1.
The ABM allow for a direct assessment of the condition of the animal, by looking at how the goose responds to the various factors in its environment (outcome approach). There are a total of nine Animal-Based Measures used in the DIST Protocol. These include, among others, measures designed to identify unusual behaviour or aspects such as feather- pecking2, twisted or broken wings, feather irregularities, and abnormal beak colour.
These phenomena are associated with situations in which the welfare of the geese is
compromised. This may be due to a number of factors, including high stocking density, poor diet, lack of pasture or inappropriate animal management methods. Another important and innovative indicator introduced by the Protocol is the assessment of the human-animal relationship which is measured through responses to a specific test (HAR test, Estep and Hetts, 1992).
To have a significant impact on animal welfare and secure a process of continuous improvement, Moncler believes that it is important not to impose but to explain, involve and engage with stakeholders, committing to a long-term joint effort. Accordingly, before final approval by the experts of the Forum, the Protocol was discussed with suppliers that have extensive experience and long backgrounds in the industry.
In addition, in 2016, Moncler will provide its partners with dedicated training material to help spread good practices in animal husbandry throughout the supply chain.
Moncler is continuously committed to certifying its supply chain by conducting on-site inspections to ensure compliance with the Protocol. To ensure the utmost impartiality:
1 The Animal-Based Measures are indicators that rely on direct observation of the animal, by assessing the actual condition of the animal in relation to its ability to adapt to specific farming environments. The measures look at physiological, pathological, behavioural indicators.
2 Feather-pecking is an abnormal behaviour in avian species in which birds peck the feathers of their companions or tear them out with their beaks.
In 2015, a total of 120 independent audits were conducted, many of which were attended by Moncler officers and experts from the University of Milan’s Department of Veterinary Medicine. Even though the suppliers have chosen their best farms, some of them did not pass the audit process and have therefore been excluded from Moncler’s supply chain. Others have been required to take corrective steps before obtaining certification. No instances of live-plucking or force-feeding were found at any of the farms visited.
In 2016, the Group is committed to
purchasing only down which has been awarded DIST certification.
Alongside the audits to check compliance with the DIST Protocol, checks were also carried out on respect for human rights and workers’ rights. In some cases these checks resulted in the development of improvement programmes, the implementation of which will be verified through follow-up audits.
This first year of audits has enabled Moncler to improve the knowledge of its supply chain and of farming practices in relation to the animals.
The energy and resources invested in this process have already brought results, which are all the more remarkable since down is a by-product of the food chain. Indeed, meat production is the main source of profit; down is a secondary product.
Moncler is also very much aware that, regardless of significant achievements, it cannot stop here. The Company is duty-bound to continue to promote increasingly ambitious standards, welcoming the constructive advice and insights offered by stakeholders.