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There are records of down being traded as an insulation as far back as the early 1600s. And long before that, the down and feather waste of birds used for food was utilized to create warm and comfortable bedding. 

The modern down supply chain has historically been extremely opaque, consisting of a network of brokers who aggregated material from slaughterhouse groups and sold on an open market with almost no visibility to the farms the birds were raised on. 

More than 30 years ago, ALLIED was founded as an insulation company working directly with farms and slaughterhouse groups. As the outdoor industry was growing rapidly through the early 1980s, the need for a high-quality down fill — different than what was available at the time — became apparent. By working directly with farms around the world, ALLIED was able to control quality and provide these growing brands complete traceability and transparency long before it was considered an important issue – all with a new unparalleled performance that led directly to new types of down jackets. 

In 2012, ALLIED used this intimate knowledge throughout a supply chain many thought impossible to trace, and started work with The North Face to build what would become the Responsible Down Standard. Gifted to the Textile Exchange so that it could be utilized by the industry as a whole, this standard has now become one of the largest and most ubiquitous animal welfare standards in the textile and outdoor industries. 

ALLIED continues to change the industry by uncovering new supply chains, offering unique material and bringing traceability and education directly to the consumer for the first time. 

A new way to source direct over 30 years still remains a bit of a novelty. Much of the global down supply chain is still quite opaque, though the changes ALLIED has helped to introduce back then has changed the down industry forever.

While the industry-wide animal welfare standards are incredibly important to bring a level of assurance to consumers that the down inside a garment, pillow, comforter or sleeping bag has been sourced responsibly, there is a lot more complexity to down insulation than just where or how it was sourced. And even though the standards also ensure traceability, there is no real way through those alone for the consumer to really understand where the down inside their jacket came from – or what makes it unique..

For us, the standards are simply an insurance policy to now communicate some of the intricacies of the material to the end user. For far too long, the synthetic industry and animal welfare activists have been able to attack down and spread misinformation without the customer having any sort of outlet to learn more about the performance and sustainability value of responsibly sourced material. 

That’s why, in 2015, alongside the release of the first RDS certified products, ALLIED launched TrackMyDown.com. The site allows the consumer to use the lot number on the jacket to learn more about all the important elements of the down inside their jacket – from source to cleanliness to complete content analysis – educating the consumer on what fill power is, why cleanliness and processing are so important to performance,  and how these might reflect on the quality of the product in front of them.

In 2019, ALLIED engaged Nobal Technologies, a cutting edge retail smart mirror tech firm to work on a new concept to develop a retail engagement, education and traceability tool. 

ALLIED had developed a way to  optically tag down that could be read by a hand-held reader through the garment itself, without altering the quality of the material or sacrificing the finished product. This program was developed and piloted as a quality control product for a large partner brand to ensure the material they were expecting did, in fact, end up in their garments. With all the work being done in certifications, it’s not uncommon for that to fall apart at the manufacturing level – either through sheer accident, lack of thoroughly cleaning equipment between runs or something more nefarious. 

Taking consumer traceability and education to the next level, ALLIED engaged Nobal Technologies for the development of a smart mirror able to read the down inside a garment with an integrated reader that interacts with this proprietary treatment on the down. This allows the retail customer to interact with the down inside the jacket to learn more about the quality of the down, see where and how it was sourced and even tie into existing retail point of sales devices and inventory management systems allows the user to see similar products and even make purchases directly from the mirror itself.