Frequently asked questions

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Q:Why can’t I find a BAACODE on my Icebreaker garment?

A:You will find your nine-digit Baacode on the inner seam of most new Icebreaker garments. We introduced BAACODE from August 2008, so garments purchased before then will not have a BAACODE. To identify Icebreaker tops that can be traced, ask your Icebreaker retailer to show you the new range. You can still demo our BAACODE technology with the demo code 213C3F390.

Q:What is Baacode?

A:From August 2008, Icebreaker garments will be tagged with a unique Baacode that will match each Icebreaker garment to the batch of merino fibre from which it was produced (the name "Baacode" comes from the "baa" bleating sound made by sheep). A swingtag invites customers to enter their Baacode on www.icebreaker.com/baacode, where they can trace the fibre back to the New Zealand sheep stations that produced the fibre. Customers can meet the farmers and the living conditions of the sheep, then follow the fibre to the factories that knit, dye, finish, cut, manufacture and ship the garments.

Q:What is traceability?

A:The concept of traceability refers to customer's ability to track a product all the way from its point of origin to the retail shelves. Traceability is becoming more popular in the sourcing and manufacture of food. With Baacode, Icebreaker is introducing traceability into its supply chain.

Q:Why has Icebreaker launched Baacode?

A:Icebreaker is proud of its supply chain. We believe that introducing transparency and traceability into the production of our garments will give consumers further assurance that their Icebreaker was made with deep integrity.

Q:What will consumers see when they go to Icebreaker.com?

A:They will be able to enter their unique Baacode into the site and begin to trace the fibre in their garment from the sheep stations in New Zealand's South Island through to the factories that knitted, dyed and sewed the garment.

Q:Was this costly or difficult to implement?

A:Yes. We have always had a paper trail that allowed us to trace garments back to the sheep stations where the fibre originated, but to make this information available for customers online required a great deal of data entry. We use purpose-built software to collect data from every part of our supply chain, and update it every day. It's lots of work, but we think Baacode is worth it.

Q:Are all the sheep stations you work with participating in Baacode?

A:No, not yet, but we will continue adding stations to the site in the future.

Q:Why can't we trace the fibre in our garment back to one sheep or one station?

A:Making a good quality Icebreaker is a bit like making a good bottle of wine. We need a good mix of merino fibre, which means sourcing fibre from different stations to create the perfect blend. On average, merino sheep from about five stations will have grown the fibre for each garment you trace through Baacode.

Q:How many Icebreaker garments have a Baacode?

A:Most Icebreaker garments have a Baacode. We are continually adding products to the programme.

Q:How does Icebreaker measure Baacodes success? Will it continue?

A:We look forward to seeing how customers respond to Baacode and how they think it can be improved. We are committed to continually evolving this programme.

Q:Can consumers ask Icebreaker questions online?

A:Yes. Feel free to email us at baacode@icebreaker.com and we will respond as soon as we can.

Q:What factories does Icebreaker work with to produce its garments?

A:Icebreaker works with a number of factory partners in China: a French wool cleaning plant (which recycles and cleans its water, and extracts the lanolin for sale to the cosmetics industry), a German spinning plant (which reuses the heat from processing into its air conditioning system), and a garment and textile manufacturing plant (which conserves energy through large-volume dyeing and also has an on-site water recycling plant to reuse water for the dye process).This plant has strong social and environmental ethics.

Q:Does Icebreaker have rules of conduct for its contract factories?

A:Yes. We have drawn up ethical manufacturing standards which are shared with all our manufacturing partners, and are available for customers to review at Icebreaker.com/sustainability. Icebreaker employs very strict selection criteria, which we call 'narrow and deep.' This means we choose to work with a small number of key partners and grow a deep relationship with these companies.

Generally, to become an Icebreaker manufacturing partner, manufacturers and their suppliers must:

  • demonstrate impeccable business ethics, and have an up-to-date and impeccably maintained manufacturing plant
  • have access to the latest technology
  • respect staff and provide them with a caring community environment
  • have good natural light, clean air and a healthy environment
  • be part of, or working towards, a global quality assurance programme (such as ISO 9001); be part of, or working towards, a global environmental assurance programme (such as ISO 14001) and/or comply with Oeko-Tex environmental standards for textiles; and be working to incorporate sustainable practices into their business
  • take responsibility for their garments at every step of the production process and expect contractors in production facilities to meet these workplace standards.

No factory is ever 100 percent perfect, but we think the ones we are working with are among the best.

Q:Does Icebreaker allow the practice of mulesing?

A:Mulesing involves removing strips of skin around the tail to prevent flystrike. None of the sheep from growers contracted to supply Icebreaker with fibre have been subjected to this practice. Maintaining high animal welfare standards is an essential part of the Icebreaker ethos, which is based on respect for nature, ethics and sustainability.

Icebreaker has developed deep relationships with the farmers that produce its merino, who are required to meet five basic animal welfare requirements:

  • freedom from thirst and hunger
  • provision of appropriate comfort and shelter
  • prevention of (or rapid diagnosis and treatment of) injury, disease or parasite infestation;
  • freedom from distress
  • the ability to display normal patterns of behaviour.

The farmers who supply Icebreaker merino are also required to meet minimum standards of care of sheep dogs.

Do you have an additional question? Please send us your question, and we'll post the best questions and our responses to them.