Nau has a new feather to its cap: recycled down. One of the first apparel companies to incorporate the material in its production, the Portland-based outfitter is launching six new outerwear designs this fall, including a down jacket for men and a cocoon trench for women. Nau says it worked closely with several partners over a number of years to make recycled down a reality. Just outside Paris in France, a vendor gathers and sorts down from post-consumer duvets, pillows, and blankets. The down then travels to a facility in Hungary, where it's quality-checked, sorted, cleaned, and sterilized the same way as virgin down. The resulting 650-fill power blend of goose and duck down maintains the same weight, quality, and insulation properties as its straight-from-the-waterfowl counterpart, Nau says.
DOWN BUT NOT OUT
In January 2014, Nau was among the companies that rallied around the “Responsible Down Standard,” a chain-of-custody process established by The North Face and Textile Exchange to help businesses source down from ducks and geese that haven’t been forced-fed (a common practice in foie-gras production) or live-plucked for their feathers.
Still, by extending the life of an oft-controversial material, Nau appears to have arrived at a happy medium, one takes advantage of the fiber’s benefits while minimizing the need for virgin resources.
This isn’t some one-off novelty collection, either. Moving forward, all of Nau’s 650-fill jackets will use recycled down, according to Mark Galbraith, general manager at Nau.
“Recycled down is a major breakthrough that has really strong implications for sustainability,” he adds.