Timberland, along with other VF Corporation brands, recently published full supply chain transparency footprint maps on 9 of its most iconic products. The source maps, available on VF’s sustainability website, help ensure every step in the production of VF’s apparel and footwear meets the corporation’s standards of quality, sustainability and social responsibility – from raw material extraction to VF distribution centers. The interactive maps display the number and locations of suppliers in a region and users can zoom in for a close-up look at each supplier, including onsite inspections, verifications and associate interviews.
For years VF has required over 1800 suppliers (manufacturing facilities and suppliers of key raw materials) to participate in rigorous social and environmental audits. These source maps go a level further – disclosing all touch points along the supply chain. The amount of effort needed to fully map the supply chain of a single product, and build verified data for each supplier, is not a simple task. The exercise goes beyond finished goods manufacturers and key raw material suppliers to include plants that mine or process raw materials, many of which don’t know that their product ends up in a VF brand product. For example, when the team traced the Timberland Earthkeepers boot back to a slaughterhouse in Kansas, the slaughterhouse employees were confused as to why VF or Timberland were contacting them – “we sell steak!” they said. What they failed to recognize is that the slaughterhouse sold hides to a local tannery, which in turn sold the tanned hides to a Chinese factory that produces products for Timberland. By way of Timberland’s close relationship with its tanneries and the traceability requirements involved with being an LWG Silver or Gold rated tannery (which Timberland requires of its tanneries), we could identify the specific slaughterhouse the hides originally came from.
VF sources products from 60 countries and thousands of contract suppliers and the process of developing these source maps has provided invaluable information that VF will continue to use to ensure a focus on responsible and ethical practices throughout our entire global supply chain.
Ultimately though, we hope these maps become a tool for consumers, who increasingly pay as much attention to the environmental and ethical aspects of their gear as they are to quality and technical specifications. While the project is currently limited in scope, VF intends to pursue similar mapping for more products. In the meantime, customers can now discover the exact journey some of their favorite and iconic products took to get into their wardrobes.
Learn more about VF's Responsible Sourcing program.