Polarn O. Pyret make clothing designed especially for children and their needs, while helping to ensure that children of future generations have access to a sustainable environment.
We do this by setting high standards for choice of materials, fit and craftsmanship, as well as taking responsibility for making sure that our products are manufactured under acceptable social and environmental conditions.
Polarn O. Pyret has no factories of its own – we work with external suppliers. We consider a range of issues when choosing a supplier, including quality, price, logistics and compliance with the high standards we set for environmental and working conditions.
Clothes that let children be children – both today and tomorrow
Our top priority is to provide children with comfortable and safe clothes they can play in to their hearts’ content. We keep this firmly in mind when we design our clothes.
Our philosophy also involves aiming to offer our customers environmentally conscious options, as well as ensuring that every garment lasts for as long as possible. Our aims are reflected in our collections of quality garments that can be worn and washed time and time again, and have a contemporary, classic and unisex design.
Making children’s products is a great responsibility. Polarn O. Pyret has been making clothes that are safe for children to wear since 1976, and has outstanding experience and an unrivalled tradition in this area. As a general rule, we aim to avoid functions or details on garments that might pose any kind of risk. Safety checks begin the moment we sketch an idea and continue throughout the manufacturing process. They include making sure that all garments are made according to the pattern, that all small parts are securely attached, and that garments have no sharp parts or edges.
Polarn O. Pyret is a long-standing member of the Swedish Standards Institute (SIS) and participates in the Working Group for Child Safety. We work continuously on risk analysis and keep up-to-date with child safety legislation, regulations and recommendations. Having stores in many different countries means we need to be aware of each country’s child safety provisions and make sure we comply with them.
Polarn O. Pyret conducts ongoing quality and safety tests on all our products. We perform testing at third-party laboratories as well as at our in-house test lab.
This part of our work is focused on ensuring our garments meet stringent material, sewing and safety standards. We do not accept garments containing prohibited substances and carefully examine details like buttons that might come off.
Some of the other aspects we check include:
• Behaviour during laundering
• Wet and dry colour fastness
• Nickel content
• Flame-retardant properties
Restrictions on chemicals
Quality assuring our products from an environmental and health perspective is a priority issue at Polarn O. Pyret for obvious reasons. For many years, we have been using a comprehensive blacklist of all the chemicals we do not permit. Certain substances are banned completely, while the use of other substances is restricted. Our blacklist is based on Swedish law, the European Union REACH Regulation on Chemicals, as well as the requirements of industry organisations.
Our chemicals criteria are monitored by laboratory tests during the manufacturing process and on garments for sale in our stores. These tests are random and based on a risk assessment that takes product type, manufacturing technique, supplier and country of origin into account.
It is important to keep up-to-date with current chemical research. This is why we are a member of the Chemicals Group at Swerea IVF, as well as the Textile Dialogue discussion forum initiated by the Swedish Chemicals Agency.
Our goal is to work proactively on chemicals issues, which in certain cases involves us going one step further than the legislation requires.
An environmentally conscious option
Polarn O. Pyret has been committed to high quality and consideration for the environment since the day it started in 1976. What’s best for children is our guiding principle, which explains why taking responsibility for our environmental impact is a natural part of our day-to-day work. We introduced our first ECO-labelled garments in 1987 and 20 years later we launched the first ever collection to carry the Nordic Swan Ecolabel in Europe. Our entire striped collection was licensed to carry the Nordic Swan Ecolabel in the following year. But now, five years later, the growing number of ECO-labelled products in our range and expansion far beyond the Nordic region means we have outgrown the Nordic Swan. As part of our efforts to step up the pace of our sustainability work, we feel the need to widen our scope with supplier and consumer certifications that have worldwide recognition.
The process of switching from the Swan Ecolabel to the GOTS label is set to begin during 2013 and be complete by the spring of 2014. The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is a world-leading standard and certification for textiles made from organic fibres. While its criteria are broadly similar to the Nordic Swan’s, GOTS applies exclusively to textiles, which gives it a clear advantage. The standard requires certification of the entire manufacturing process, from organically grown cotton through each and every stage, such as dyeing, printing and sewing, all the way to us as a brand.
Polarn O. Pyret is proud to be the first Swedish childrenswear chain to be certified to use the GOTS logo on our garments!
We fully intend to go on making our manufacturing process better for the environment and we are thrilled to be able to ECO label more of our garments every year.
Our ECO products
Our range features garments that carry our own ECO logo. ECO stands for Environmentally Conscious Option.
The garments that carry this label are made with environmental consideration above and beyond our standard requirements for chemicals and water management. This means that we have either chosen a material with a lower environmental impact, such as organic cotton or recycled synthetic fibres, or we have had the entire manufacturing process certified by an independent body, such as GOTS.
You will find information on what makes a specific product an environmentally conscious option on the product label. Our range currently includes:
All cotton products with our ECO logo are made from cotton grown using organic methods without chemicals, such as synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. The criteria for organic cotton also ban genetically modified cotton (GMC). Organic cotton products must be separated from conventional products throughout the manufacturing process and must be accompanied by a certificate of origin.
GOTS, Global Organic Textile Standard
GOTS is a world-leading standard and certification for textiles made of natural fibres. The GOTS logo has replaced the Nordic Swan logo on the labels of all our striped basic clothes and plain red and blue clothes.
A product can only be certified and carry the GOTS logo if it has been made of organic cotton and has only been processed in factories that are certified according to the GOTS standard by an independent body. Compulsory criteria set by the standard include chemical content and use, waste water treatment, traceability and separation of products, as well as working conditions in the factories.
Compliance with the criteria is audited once a year by an independent body. The GOTS system is unique in that we also need to be certified as a brand to be allowed to label our products with the logo. This is to provide you – our customer – with credible assurance that the product you buy has been made in compliance with the criteria.
The material in these products is made from recycled fibres from fishing nets and textile industry waste. Recycled polyamide can be found in some of our outerwear items.
The material in these products is made from recycled fibres from plastic bottles or textile industry waste.
Fleece is made of polyester, a material made from a plastic called polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is also found in plastic bottles.
Making recycled polyester involves cleaning PET bottles to remove contaminants and unwanted materials, such as labels and glue, and then grinding them down into fine flakes that are checked for quality before further processing. The plastic flakes are then melted down and extruded through a spinneret as thin threads. These threads can then be spun into yarn which is used to make new fleece tops.
By choosing one of our ECO fleece tops instead of a conventional one, you are helping to reduce the oil consumption and the environmental impact involved in manufacturing new synthetic fibres.
Look after and re-use
Polarn O. Pyret wants all its clothing to last for as long as possible. So we make our collections in a contemporary classic, unisex design. Our clothes are made with playful, active children in mind. We also think high quality standards are important and want to make it easy to mend the parts that get the roughest treatment. So we provide replacement buttons, foot straps and mending patches for some of our most popular products. We encourage our customers to pass on outgrown clothes to other children or re-sell on marketplace websites such as ebay.
Manufacturing that respects people and the environment
Polarn O. Pyret’s garments are made by about 60 international suppliers. Wherever our clothes are made, respect for the people making them and the environment is an essential part of our day-to-day operations.
Manufacturing working conditions
Polarn O. Pyret has no factories of its own – we work with about 60 suppliers in various countries and our products are made at more than 70 different factories. While each country and every supplier has a unique set of circumstances, they all have one thing in common – the high standards we always set for working conditions and the working environment for the people who make our products, and the well-established inspection system we put in place to make sure suppliers are meeting basic requirements and are continuously developing their operations.
Our products are currently made in the following countries:
Code of conduct
Our requirements are based on the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the ILO Conventions on Labour Rights, and are set out in our Code of Conduct. Polarn O. Pyret sees major advantages in working closely with other companies to influence suppliers and has therefore been a member of the Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI) since 2005. Our Code of Conduct is the same one that more than 1,000 BSCI companies use, which gives added weight to discussions with suppliers.
Our inspection system is based on BSCI inspections carried out by independent third-party inspectors, as well as our own inspections carried out by staff from one of our offices. Factory inspections take a close look at the physical working environment, particularly key issues such as fire safety and safety equipment. The safety of the workers should never be compromised and shortcomings in these areas must be corrected immediately.
Factory inspections also involve checking documents, and interviewing factory managers and workers. This entails extensive detective work as information provided by various people is checked against documents, and documents are checked with other testimony. Inspections look at issues such as working hours, payment of wages and other benefits, and try to get an idea of the situation regarding equal opportunities and workers’ rights.
The BSCI inspections provide us with independent full-scale verifications of the situation at the factory, and our own visits are used to carry out first-time inspections and press for improvements through a continuous presence.
Factories that we are cooperating with do have to sign our requirements and go through inspections. We also strive to find ways to cooperate with our suppliers to correct any non-conformities and achieve a long-term sustainable change. If the years have taught us anything, it’s that working conditions are not improved by asking suppliers to sign a code of conduct or even carrying out inspections. Improving factory conditions is an ongoing process based on maintaining open communication and insisting our standards are met. Routine inspections are essential, with training and incentives more important still.
For us it is important that the factories understand and actively work to meet our demands. As soon as a factory inspection uncovers any shortcomings, we always agree on a plan of action with the supplier and follow it up at subsequent visits. We feel that factories must be given a fair chance to improve and continuing to do business is the only way factory owners can afford to improve their factories and invest in their employees. That said, we have certain non-negotiable requirements and so we have established a procedure for zero-tolerance issues. Child labor is one of these zero-tolerance issues. If underage workers would be discovered at a factory, all orders will be suspended until the supplier has put an action plan in place to make sure it never happens again and have guaranteed a good solution for the children found working. This preferably means the chance to go to school and to be re-employed once they reach the right age.
Another non-negotiable requirement is the safety of the factories. For example, if a factory is missing emergency exits, firefighting equipment and basic knowledge about fire prevention and emergency preparedness orders will also be suspended until the issues has been rectified. Control of these features are basic and constitutes a relatively simple way to create safer factories. But in some production countries there are more complex safety risks which requires more comprehensive efforts to improve. An example of a country with these high risks is Bangladesh where several severe industrial disasters has happened due to poor electrical security, lacking safety routines and improperly constructed or misused buildings.
In addition to the work we do with our Code of conduct we have contributed to an initiative to train textile workers and factory managers in Bangladesh in fire safety. The project which started in 2011 was financed by 19 international brands and resulted in the creation of two films and training material for workers and management in prevention of fire and emergency preparedness. The training in the factory is conducted through the local industry organization BGMEA. Through RNB (holding company of Polarn O. Pyret) we signed the Accord on building and Fire Safety in Bangladesh in April 2014. The Accord is a legally binding agreement between brands and trade unions to enable a safe working environment in the Bangladeshi garment industry. It includes an independent inspection program enabled by factory owners and brands, in which workers and trade unions are involved. Polarn O. Pyret sees our participation in the Accord as a good supplement to our work with the Code of Conduct and factory inspections. Read more at www.bangladeshaccord.org
As a relatively small buyer in many sourcing counties and supplier factories it is sometimes difficult to achieve substantial change in more complex, systemic challenges such as wages beyond the industry standard/legal levels and the possibility for workers to organize effectively and bargain collectively. An important component to achieve sustainable change in these important areas is collaboration between different parties. Through our participation in the BSCI we can, jointly with other companies promote systemic changes. Both through being many buyers placing the same demands and through the efforts that the BSCI is doing in terms of stakeholder dialogue and advocacy.
What is BSCI?
The Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI) is a business-driven initiative which aims to improve working conditions throughout the global supply chains. The BSCI was established in 2003 by the FTA (Foreign Trade Association) and 10 years later the organisation has more than 1,000 members.
The system is based on a shared code of conduct and standardised factory inspections.
In order to achieve lasting improvements, the BSCI offers suppliers training and keeps in close contact with many different external stakeholders, principally through its Stakeholder Council and round-table discussions held in the key sourcing countries.
The use of water and chemicals is a major environmental concern in clothing manufacture. Many of the processes involved require huge amounts of water. Water is essential, for instance, for dyeing and washing our textiles. But water is scarce in many of our manufacturing regions and a lot of people in the world have no access to clean drinking water. Given these facts, it is imperative for our company to work towards improving the environment and working conditions throughout the supply chains.
There are three issues of particular importance to Polarn O. Pyret:
1. Choosing materials with a reduced environmental impact for an ever-increasing number of products. Organic cotton or recycled materials, for instance.
2. Stipulating which chemicals may or may not be used. Ruling out especially toxic substances reduces the risk of water contamination.
3. Working towards more sustainable water and chemical use throughout the manufacturing process. Ensuring there are water treatment plants, limiting water consumption and preventing chemicals from contaminating the environment.
Polarn O. Pyret insists that wet processes, such as dyeing, printing and washing, should be carried out in factories connected to a well-functioning water treatment plant. But monitoring good water and chemical management by suppliers can be problematic, especially when these processes are frequently carried out by subcontractors. This is why we joined the Sweden Textile Water Initiative (STWI) in 2010 – a joint project between textile companies in Sweden to develop guidelines for more sustainable water use. We have now embarked on Phase 2 of the project, in which we look at ways to implement these guidelines along our supply chains.
With manufacturing facilities located in both Europe and Asia, all our clothes will have been transported various distances before going on sale.
Clothes en route from suppliers to our warehouses are transported by lorry within Europe (including Turkey) and by ship from Asia. Air transport is generally avoided. Lorries are used to take clothes from warehouses to stores.
Policies and Reports
• Code of Conduct
• Environmental Policy
• Animal Care Policy
• Sponsorship and Charity Policy
Polarn O. Pyret belongs to the RNB Group, which issues an annual account of its work on environmental and ethical issues in a Sustainability Report. To find out more about our work last year, please visit their website.