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A Look Inside Icebreaker’s Transparent Supply Chain

by: Rosie Dalton | 3 months ago | Features

Image: the Women's Merino Waypoint Roll Neck Sweater in Toast Heather.


Founded in 1995 by NZ native Jeremy Moon, Icebreaker makes purpose-built merino wool activewear in a transparent supply chain.  

“We know exactly where our fibre comes from and ensure that growers uphold the strongest environmental and animal welfare practices,” Icebreaker says. Here, we walk through the brand’s transparent supply chain.


Grower relationships

Image: Robert Butson and his daughter Kate at the Mt Nicholas Station in Queenstown. Image source.

In 1997, Icebreaker became the first company in the world to establish long-term contracts with merino growers. Since then, the brand has been committed to fostering direct and lasting relationships with its suppliers. Which involves publicly sharing a list of supply chain partners and its Supplier Code of Conduct.

Robust auditing is then carried out by an independent third party to ensure compliance, with a focus on continuous improvement and protecting migrant worker rights. Overall, the brand’s grower accreditation program addresses environmental integrity, social responsibility, animal welfare, and fibre quality.

“These relationships are open and honest – there is nothing we can hide from each other,” Icebreaker says. “We do not use agents or allow work to be outsourced beyond our directly approved suppliers.”



Animal welfare

Image: from the Lake Heron Station on New Zealand's South Island. Image source.

Icebreaker prioritises natural materials like merino wool and is committed to ethical and sustainable sourcing of those materials. The brand is part of The New Zealand Merino Company’s ZQ program, which ensures stringent animal welfare standards are met.

Since 2008, for example, Icebreaker has had a strict no mulesing policy. Their sheep are free range, roaming in open pastures with minimal human intervention. And all growers must have an animal-health plan, complying with strict standards of handling and procedures for shearing.

As the first company to develop deep, long-term relationships with merino farmers, Icebreaker has fostered partnerships that guarantee the highest standards of animal welfare. “You can feel happy in the knowledge that the sheep felt just as good making your Icebreaker merino as you will wearing it,” the brand says of its animal welfare policy – which ensures a healthy, low stress quality of life for their sheep.

If you'd like to find out more, you can read Iceabreaker's 2018 Transparency Report and browse our range of the brand's merino activewear over here:

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