DATA

THE PROS:

The brand reports that all sheep stations that supply Icebreaker with merino wool are accredited to Zque, an “ethical wool” programme with set standards on environmental, social and economic sustainability, on animal welfare and on tracing wool back to its source.

Icebreaker’s fabrics are certified to Oeko-Tex standard 100, class 1, that certifies fabric as being safe for use against the skin in babywear.

The brand shares information about its suppliers on its website.

THE CONS:

Icebreaker does not have a publicly available supplier code of conduct.

Rank-a-Brand gave Icebreaker an E, the lowest possible sustainability score.

We don’t have any information on how the brand monitors the social practices of its supply chain.

/ The brands ethos is, “It’s about our relationship with nature, and with each other”.

/ Icebreaker is sold in more than 4700 stores in 50 countries.

/ Icebreaker employs 450 staff.

/ In April 2015, Vancouver Sun reported that Icebreaker was a 20-year-old, privately owned company that registered almost $200 million in annual revenues.

/ We don’t have any information on how many suppliers the brand uses, lead times, the number of garments made annually, how many collections the brand releases annually, or how long its products are designed to last.

/ In 2008, Icebreaker introduced Baacode, a system that enabled consumers to trace every step of their product, starting from the sheep station where the merino was grown. Icebreaker garments had an internal label bearing a unique Baacode number, and a swingtag telling customers how to enter their Baacode on Icebreaker.com and trace the merino fibre in their garment back to the sheep stations where it was grown. Customers could see the living conditions of the sheep, meet the high country farmers who run the sheep stations, and follow every step of the production process. In the first year of launch, over 100,000 customers accessed their Baacodes. We have no information on if this feature is currently available.

/ The brand does not report annually on sustainability practices and progress.

/ Avalon Station supplies Icebreaker with merino wool. It is based in Cardrona Valley in the Southern Alps and runs 6,000 merino, and works the land with the belief that good guardianship and good husbandry will look after the land for the next generation.

/ The brand’s textile and garment manufacturing supplier, where garments are cut and sewn, has 700 machinists. This supplier does not allow employees to work beyond 45 hours per week. Most of the machinists are in their 30s and the youngest is 17.

/ In 1997, Icebreaker started a system of signing long-term contracts with growers, which the brand states gives merino growers financial security and enables Icebreaker to set strict standards of environmental protection, animal welfare and wool quality.

/ Rank-a-Brand gave Icebreaker an E, the lowest possible sustainability score.

/ Icebreaker reports that all of its manufacturing contractors are required to:

  • Respect staff and provide them with a caring community environment
  • Provide good natural light, clean air and a healthy working environment
  • Give workers up to three meals a day and, if necessary, provide them with accommodation
  • Workers must be aged at least 17. They’re usually paid a premium above the regional and/or national minimum wage, and there are opportunities for training and promotion

/ We don’t have any information on a supplier code of conduct, how the brand addresses forced and compulsory labour, how the brand addresses freedom of association, how the brand addresses collective bargaining rights, how the brand addresses discrimination, how the brand addresses regular excessive overtime, how the brand addresses freedom of movement for workers at supplier facilities, and whether or not supplier recruitment fees are prohibited.

/ We don’t have any information on how the brand monitors the social practices of its supply chain.

/ Icebreaker’s fabrics are certified to Oeko-Tex standard 100, class 1, that certifies fabric as being safe for use against the skin in babywear.

/ The brand reports that all sheep stations that supply Icebreaker with merino wool are accredited to Zque, an “ethical wool” programme with set standards on environmental, social and economic sustainability, on animal welfare and on tracing wool back to its source.

/ Icebreaker states that the farms that supply its merino wool use farming methods that respect the ecosystems where merino sheep are farmed to ensure long term sustainability, and that low intensity farming – often at less than one sheep per acre – minimises the impact of farming on the environment and gives grazed pasture time to regenerate.

/ The brand reports that at its textile and garment manufacturing plant, half of the water used in processing goes through a water purification plant, which neutralises any chemicals and ensures only clean water goes back into the environment. The other half is used in a heat exchange system that provides hot water for the dye house before being purified.

/ A “Biodegradation Trial” carried out by NZ Merino shows how Icebreaker merino fully biodegraded after nine months. In comparison, polyester knit fabrics did not degrade at all during the course of the nine-month trial period.

 

/ The brand reports it knows it has a lot of work ahead, but it’s committed to a sustainable business model that doesn’t put profits ahead of the environment.

/ Icebreaker is carrying out a full packaging review to find other ways to use good design to make its packaging more sustainable.

 

/ Icebreaker is a member of The Conservation Alliance, a group of outdoor industry companies that donate their collective annual membership dues to grassroots conservation organisations working to protect wildlands and waterways.

/ The brand partners with Antarctica New Zealand, by providing base layers for all of the organisations visitors to the Antarctic.

/ After the 2015 earthquakes in Nepal, Icebreaker partnered with the Himalayan Trust to distribute tents, tarpaulins, warm clothing and wet weather gear in the Solukhumbu region, where the Trust has worked with local communities for the past five decades. The intention was for money raised to be put towards helping to support the rebuilding of Phortse school, a small primary school where all five classrooms had been destroyed by the earthquakes.

/ In 2014, the brand supported Pete Oswald and his partner Sophie Stevens in their cycling trek through Sri Lanka to raise funds for the rebuilding of the Karaveddy Preschool that was badly affected by three decades of civil war and a tsunami in 2004.

/ Icebreaker has sponsored and participated in the Coast to Coast multisport adventure race which is a multisport event going from the west to east coast of New Zealand’s South Island.

/ In May 2014, Oregon Live reported that Icebreaker was a privately owned company and that the brand’s founder, Jeremy Moon, owned 70% of shares.

/ In June 2014, Bloomberg reported that Icebreaker Founder CEO, Jeremy Moon, decided to fire himself and his was replacement was former Air New Zealand CEO, Rob Fyfe. The article reported that Moon would remain at Icebreaker as Executive Chairman and Creative Director.

/ We don’t have any information on how much the CEO, Rob Fyfe, made in the last financial year.

/ There are no reported management scandals or issues.

/ In 1997, Icebreaker started a system of signing long-term contracts with growers, which the brand states gives merino growers financial security, and enables Icebreaker to set strict standards of environmental protection, animal welfare and wool quality.

/ The brand’s MerinoLOFT™ jackets incorporate a filler made from wool fibres and recycled merino wool offcuts.

/ Icebreaker has developed a fabric called Cool-Lite™ which combines merino with Tencel, a wood fibre. Cool-Lite feels 40% cooler and wicks away sweat from the body 3 times faster than 100% merino.

VOICES

BRADFORD WIENERS | BLOOMBERG

“Even now, in its 19th year and with more than $180 million in annual revenue, Icebreaker is a brand many are keen to say they discovered first.” – 06/16/2014


VancouverSunGORD KURENOFF | VANCOUVER SUN

Icebreaker is all about performance. We’re not trying or pretending to be the fashion leaders.” – 08/10/2015

JEREMY MOON, FOUNDER | COMPANY WEBSITE

“There’s no point in having quality if you don’t care for the animals and the land in a sustainable way.” – Company Website