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Down is the most important thing to Moncler. Since the beginning of the Company’s history, down has been at the heart of every Moncler jacket, gradually becoming the identity of the Brand itself. Many years of experience combined with continuous research and development have enabled the Company to gain unique expertise in this area, in terms of knowledge not only of down as a raw material , but also of outerwear manufacturing processes. Moncler requires all its suppliers to comply with the highest quality standards , which have always been – and indeed remain – a key aspect differentiating Moncler’s products. But the Company’s notion of “quality” goes even further: indeed, when purchasing raw materials, the origin of the down used and respect for animal welfare are as essential and important as the quality of the down itself.
The technical quality of Moncler’s down is the result of a well-structured process that ensures that only the best white goose down is used to create the garments. Each batch of down undergoes a two-step inspection procedure to assess its compliance with 11 key quality parameters (also related to health and cleanliness), set according to the strictest international standards and to stringent Company requirements. The procedure involves a series of sophisticated analyses carried out by an accredited independent body, followed by further tests at Moncler’s own laboratory performed by highly-specialised down technicians. Approximately 800 tests were performed in 2016, in line with the previous year.
Down cluster content and fill power are the main indicators of down quality. Moncler’s products contain at least 90% down clusters and only 10% feathers/small feathers. This high percentage of down cluster guarantees a high fill power, which is the amount of volume occupied by the down: the higher the fill power, the better the down’s performance in terms of lightness, thermal capacity, and insulating properties. Moncler’s down boasts a fill power equal to or greater than 710 (cubic inches per 30 grams of down), resulting in warm, soft, and lightweight products delivering unique comfort.
The DIST Protocol assesses animal welfare using an innovative approach. In fact, alongside the traditional approach that focuses on the animal’s environment (in terms of availability of food and water, space to pasture, etc.), it also provides for the careful observation of the animal itself (as per recent European Commission guidelines), through the so-called Animal-Based Measures (ABMs)4.
The ABMs enable the direct assessment of the animals’ conditions by observ- ing how the geese respond to various factors within their environment (outcome approach). The DIST Protocol features nine Animal-Based Measures (welfare indicators) including, among others, those designed to identify unusual behav- iour or aspects such as feather-pecking5, twisted or broken wings, feather irregularities, and abnormal beak colour.
These phenomena occur when the welfare of the geese is
compromised owing to a number of reasons, including high stocking density, poor diet, lack of pasture, and inappropriate animal management methods. Another important and innovative indicator introduced by the Protocol regards the human-animal interaction, which is assessed according to the responses to a specific test (HAR test, Estep and Hetts, 1992).
Moncler believes that, in order to have a significant impact on animal welfare and enable continuous improvement, it is important not to impose but rather explain, share, and involve its suppliers, so as to ensure a long-term joint commitment. Throughout 2017, the Company will share information material
with them in an effort to support the dissemina- tion of good farming practices across their respective supply chains.
Moncler is continuously committed to verifying Protocol com- pliance in the field. To ensure the utmost impartiality:
• audits are commissioned directly by Moncler and not by the supplier;
• the certification process is carried out by a qualified independent body, whose auditors are trained by veterinaries and zootechnicians of the Department of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Milan (Italy);
• audit results are, in turn, verified by a second accredited external body.
4The Animal-Based Measures are indicators that rely on the direct observation of the animal to assess its actual conditions in relation to its ability to adapt to specific farming environments. These measures include physiological, pathological, and behavioural indicators.
5 Feather-pecking is an abnormal behaviour in avian species that occurs when one bird repeatedly pecks (sometimes tearing out) the feathers of another.
In 2016, 119 independent audits were conducted, many of which were attended by Moncler officers as well as experts from the University of Milan’s Department of Veterinary Medicine. Although the down suppliers have made use of the best supply chain available, some farms did not pass the audit process and were therefore removed from Moncler’s supply chain. Others were required to take corrective actions before obtaining certification. No instances of live-plucking or force-feeding were observed at any of the farms audited.
In addition to these audits to verify compliance with the DIST Protocol, other checks were carried out focusing on human and workers’ rights. Some instances required the definition of specific improvement plans, the implementation of which will be verified via follow-up audits.
2016 was Moncler’s second year of audits, which have led the Company to an even greater understanding of its supply chain and animal farming practices.
The results brought about by the energy and resources invested in the process thus far are all the more remarkable since down is a by-product of the food chain, and therefore not the main source of profit – which instead is meat production.
Moncler is also very much aware that these results, however significant, are not a finish line but rather a new starting point, and its duty is to continue to promote increasingly ambitious standards, also based on the constructive advice and insights offered by its stakeholders.