Kathmandu's Stockton Women's Rain Jacket

overall rating:

1.25

planets

Alyssa Schaer
10/17/2021
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Kathmandu is an Australasian retail company that specializes in outdoor apparel. The company is committed to, “improving the wellbeing of the world by getting more people outdoors…[and] creating the best sustainably made gear.” In 2019, the company became a certified B Corporation and created a goal for 2025 to have zero environmental harm from their business practices; including integrating circular economy principles within their business. B Corporations are businesses certified by B lab for meeting certain standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance their purpose and profit. B Corps seek to accelerate a global culture shift in business to build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.

Kathmandu’s Stockton Women’s Rain Jacket is an example of how the company tries to blend performance with sustainable design. The rain jacket insulates, while also being waterproof and windproof. Additionally, its long length protects down to midthigh and is featured in three colors - black, pine, and midnight navy. Currently, the jacket’s retail price is 240 US dollars, and its steep price is credited to its sleek design and sustainable fabrics, made from 100% recycled material. Although the Stockton jacket is made with sustainable fabrics, many of its other clothing items are not, therefore, I cannot say that this company is sustainable. Additionally, the transportation distances between their manufactures create increased greenhouse gas emissions. They also need to decrease the amount of packaging waste they produce and increase levels of transparency in their supply chain. Nonetheless, Kathmandu is a newly certified B corporation, so it needs time to adapt its old business model into one that fully suits the needs of their sustainably-minded customers. 

What it's made of:

1.5

Kathmandu’s website publishes a list of materials that are within each of its clothing products. The Stockton rain jacket’s outer, inner, and fill materials, are made from 100% recycled Polyester. Kathmandu uses a certain brand of recycled Polyester fabric called REPREVE, which is created from post-consumer water bottles that are broken down into a resin and reinvented as polyester fibers. Since its implementation in 2015, the company claims to have recycled 30,423,221 plastic bottles as of 2020. Another thing to mention is that not all of Kathmandu’s products are made from recycled materials. Customers must check the company's material list to ensure their chosen clothing item is made from recycled materials. This is frustrating because in Kathmandu's mission they want to “create the best sustainably made gear” yet they are still using non-sustainable materials in many of their products.

Additionally, Kathmandu may use sustainable fabrics in its rain jacket, but it also uses a DWR treatment to waterproof the jacket. DWR stands for “Durable Water Repellent” and it is a chemical compound added to the fabric to make it shed water instead of absorbing it. However, a lot of DWR treatments contain PFCs (or Perfluorocarbons) that escape into the air during production, thus contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions are important to track because they contribute to climate change and PFC emissions do not dissolve over time, but instead build up in our atmosphere, soil, and waterways. 

How it's made:

1

Creating non-recycled polyester is an energy-intensive process and results in high levels of pollution and chemical by-products that are bad for people's health and the environment. REPREVE diverts plastic waste from landfills and recycles it into durable and sustainable polyester fibers. By using REPREVE polyester fabrics in their rain jacket, Kathmandu is reducing its greenhouse emissions, water, and energy consumption. However, REPREVE is a brand owned by Unifi, a U.S based company with manufacturing facilities in North Carolina. This means that Kathmandu still creates lots of greenhouse gas emissions by shipping its materials to one of its assembling factories. Furthermore, many of Kathmandu’s assembling factories are offshore companies that ship the finished products to distribution warehouses. To cut down on harmful emissions caused by transportation, Kathmandu should decrease distances between material production and clothing assemblage.

Also, Kathmandu generates packaging waste, but they are starting to audit waste across their networks and work towards zero-waste status by 2025. So far, Kathmandu uses 100% recycled plastic packaging through its online store, and in their retail stores, they charge a fee for paper bags with net proceeds going towards planting trees locally in New Zealand and Australia. 

Who makes it:

1.5

Kathmandu is, “committed to protecting human rights and proactively improving the wellbeing and working conditions for workers throughout [their] supply chain.” To achieve this, the company believes transparency throughout the supply chain will improve ethical fashion initiatives. If Kathmandu shows customers that they are careful and critical of the companies they do business with, then they build brand trust. Therefore, the company publishes a complete list of their Tier 1 suppliers, or partners that they directly conduct business with, so customers know exactly where their products are assembled. For example, the Stockton Women's Rain Jacket is assembled by a Tier 1 Indonesian supplier called PT Pancaprima Ekabrothers. However, the company does not have a truly transparent supply chain because it does not publish the locations of its Tier 2 or 3 suppliers. Tier 3 suppliers are the source of raw materials and Tier 2 suppliers take the raw materials and make them into fabrics. For the Stockton rain jacket, it can be assumed that Unifi is the Tier 2 and 3 supplier since they process and weave plastics into the material, but what about Kathmandu's other products?

Additionally, Kathmandu also joined the Fair Labor Association (FLA) in 2014 to promote and comply with international labor standards that seek to ensure workers have basic human rights, safe working conditions, and wages. The FLA audited and verified Kathmandu's social compliance initiatives and assessments at several of its factories. In many countries, the laws that protect and empower workers are not adequate or enforced. As a result, Kathmandu has been shifting over to suppliers that share their values of worker wellbeing and sustainability.