Kathmandu receives U.S. FLA accreditation
New Zealand-based outdoor retailer Kathmandu is the first southern hemisphere brand to receive its Fair Labor Association accreditation from the U.S., joining the ranks of Patagonia, Columbia and Nike for improved labour standards in the production and manufacturing of apparel.
In complying with the FLA standards, the travel and outdoorwear firm has tightened up its third-party supplier chain. This includes and covers areas such as workplace standards, business and supplier training, grievance and remediation protocol, monitoring, responsible purchasing practices, consultation with civil society institutions and a range of verification and program requirements.
“Human rights is our number one material issue reflecting the very heart of Kathmandu’s values and brand,” said Xavier Simonet, CEO of Kathmandu.
“Importantly we are continuing to focus on sharing our vision and values with our production partners and helping them with training and toolkits to ensure that they set a high standard for workers’ rights, safety and empowerment.”
In a unique approach, Kathmandu has taken to "protecting and enhancing the freedom and human rights of everyone in its global supply chain," with the brand using Chinese social media platform WeChat as a grievance mechanism for workers and giving workers a voice.
The achievement comes after years of continuous labour practice improvement for the sustainable adventure gear brand, with Kathmandu’s initiatives awarded an ‘A’ grade in the recent Ethical Fashion Report from Baptist World Aid.
According to Kathmandu’s corporate social responsibility manager, Gary Shaw, the company has “long been promoting and complying with international labour standards" and "this FLA achievement ensures our efforts are independently verified and assessed on the basis of fulfilling all of the principles of fair labour and responsible sourcing.”
Established in the U.S in 1999, the FLA was created as a means for consumers to find and purchase goods from accredited brands that sell clothes made under decent and humane working conditions.
The American accreditation move reiterates the brand's intentions to reconnect with an international market -- that being now, the U.S.
In March this year, Kathmandu bought U.S. footwear company Oboz for US$60 million, which marks its first move abroad since it shuttered its lossmaking UK stores and cancelled its European expansion plans three years ago.
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