Born and raised in Portland, Oregon, Columbia Sportswear Company has been making gear so that Pacific Northwesterners can enjoy the outdoors for more than 70 years. At the helm for over 40 years has been our Chairman, Gert Boyle. Her Tough Mother persona has grown Columbia into the global sportswear company that it is today—still based in Portland, still making no-nonsense apparel and footwear to keep you WARM, DRY, COOL and PROTECTED no matter what. Our unique Pacific Northwest heritage and Boyle family irreverence is what sets us apart from the competition.
We're a family business gone global. Chairman Gert Boyle's parents — German nationals who fled Nazi Germany in 1938 — purchased a small hat company upon their arrival in Portland and named it Columbia Hat Company, after the river that inspired their new home. This humble beginning was of huge significance to the family, marking new found freedom and a fresh start. Her husband later took over, and after he died Gert ran the show, going from housewife to executive overnight. Today, her son Tim Boyle is our longtime president and CEO. The family — like our business — has experienced its ups and downs, but enjoying the outdoors together has always been integral to its success.
Columbia is made up of real people who are as passionate about the outdoors as you are. And, while our products are available around the world, we're based in the great Pacific Northwest, where majestic forests frame volcanic mountains and a rugged coast. This is where we hike, ride, fish, hunt, climb, camp, golf, paddle, run, and just enjoy fresh air with friends. Come join us.
We take a holistic lifecycle approach to measuring, managing and improving the social, environmental, ethical and chemical impacts of our products. We use the Higg Index to do so. The Higg Index is an industry standard measurement tool managed by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. The following sections provide an overview of our performance based on impact areas identified by the Higg Index.
Design for Quality and Longevity
We are committed to designing innovative and functional products for consumers who participate in a wide range of outdoor activities, enabling them to pursue their passions longer and in greater comfort by keeping them warm or cool, dry and protected. Quality and durability are important aspects of this, and we have vigorous material and product quality testing standards in place to ensure that our products are made to last. This helps to extend the life of the garments.
Extending the life of a garment and keeping it in circulation conserves natural resources and enables consumers to get the most out of our products. Columbia is proud of the high quality products we make and we offer a limited warranty for all of our products.
Versatility in Design
Our design team has one, primary goal: “Build Enduring and Iconic Product.” We strive to create products that are high in quality, versatile, and will be relevant and wearable for many seasons. Functionality and classic design ensure that the customer can feel confident wearing our products in multiple conditions and social settings. This level of versatility means one garment can be used over and over again – reducing general consumption.
Material use is the single most important factor when looking at managing product impacts. Fabric and fiber production account for the largest portion of our products footprint and are also the most complex portion of the product lifecycle to manage due to the many tiers of vendors involved with developing and processing these raw materials. We are committed to using materials that are sourced with responsible humane, ethical and environmental practices.
Recycled Polyester: Nearly 80% of materials used to make Columbia products are polyester based. Extracting virgin raw materials for polyester is energy intensive and requires dependency on oil. Using recycled Polyester helps to reduce energy needed for oil extraction and reduces landfill burdens by keeping plastics out of waste streams. Since 2014, Columbia has purchased over 10 million yards of polyester with recycled content.
Insulation Materials: We believe it is important that the natural down insulation we use is produced under humane and ethical conditions. For Fall 2016, Columbia has committed to using 100% certified natural down based on Textile Exchange’s TE Responsible Down Standard. This will ensure that the natural down used in our products is sourced from responsibly treated geese, ducks, or other waterfowl and enable traceability in the down supply chain.
Leather: Approximately 95% of the leather Columbia sources comes from tanneries that are members of the Leather Working Group. The Leather Working Group is a multi-stakeholder group that develops and maintains a protocol to assess the compliance and environmental performance of tanners, and promote sustainable and appropriate environmental business practices within the leather industry.
We strive to make products that are safe for all who come into contact with them; workers who make them, consumers who use them, and the environment. We maintain a Restricted Substances List (RSL) based on global standards and laws, and a corresponding testing program that ensures our products meet these standards. We provide extensive training on our RSL and testing standards for our global product creation, sourcing and manufacturing teams to ensure high levels of knowledge around our RSL requirements.
Perflourinated compounds (PFCs) have been used as durable water-repellent (DWR) treatments in our high-performing outdoor products to achieve oil, stain and water repellency. However, PFCs, especially long-chain PFCs, are bio-accumulative in wildlife and humans and are persistent in the environment. We have phased out long-chain PFCs in favor of short-chain PFCs that are thought to be less persistent and therefore less harmful to the environment. We continue to pursue non-fluorinated alternatives for waterproof-breathability as alternatives are developed that meet consumer performance expectations.