Nau: Innovation and Eco-sustainability

Nau's Blazing Men's Jacket | ActionHub

Nau's Blazing Men's Jacket incorporates down that comes from reclaimed European duvets.

Take a blanket from a bed and save a duck or goose from being force-fed and becoming foie gras for dinner.

Though that’s a bit far-reaching, it does provide a picture of how a Portland, Oregon outdoor clothing company is continuing its mission to innovate while maintaining eco-sustainability.

For this fall, Nau, pronounced “now,” has partnered with a French company and will use recycled down in all of its 650-fill down jackets. With an eye toward high quality, the company will become the first in the United States to use cast-off duvets from Europe (called comforters in America) that are cleaned, rejuvenated, and sorted into a blend of goose and duck down.

The recycled down blend will be found in jackets like its men’s Blazing Down Jacket (MSRP $395).

According to Nau, the new style is a seam-sealed, waterproof, breathable jacket in durable recycled polyester with heavy stitching and utilitarian pockets. It features a snap-off hood with two-way drawcord, hand zip pockets with lift ticket loop, and internal audio pocket.

Also, Nau will certify all of its 800-fill power down used through the newly established 100% Responsible Down Standard. The standard certifies using a third-party assessment covering all aspects of animal rearing, handling, and traceability from source to final product. Four styles for fall 2015 will use this certified down, including the men’s Intersect Utility Down Sweater (MSRP $260).

“Sustainability, to us, is the only way forward,” says the company’s website, “We design for social, material and aesthetic sustainability. We consider the impact of each choice we make at every business level and push for each decision to be better than the last.”

Nau—the word is used as a welcome by the native Marois of New Zealand—traces its origin to 2007 when it was founded by a bunch of seasoned Patagonia, Nike, and Adidas ex-staffers. They had $35 million and a dream of having some 140 stores across the country in three years selling hip outdoor apparel that typically cost a bit more but offered higher-end form and fashion.

Nau's Cocoon Down Trench for women.

Nau’s Cocoon Down Trench for women.

That didn’t cut it, and in May 2008 the company said it was closing. Soon, a much smaller version of the company took shape led by apparel brand Horney Toad. In 2013, the company was purchased by South Korea’s Black Yack Co. Ltd. and is now enjoying another chapter in its business life written with global growth and outreach.

“That’s why we consider the environmental impact of our products long before needle ever meets fabric,” says the company. “We think about function and form as equal partners so we’re creating only what is essential with as little waste as possible. And we believe in donating a percentage of our sales to organizations that do important work for the environment, people in need, our environment, and the global economy. Because sustainability isn’t just about the product, it’s about people.”

The recycled duvet down isn’t the only eco-friendly touch in Nau’s collections. With a nod to the 60/40 soft shell fabrics of the groovy 1960s, Nau is launching a trio of workwear fabrics blended from recycled polyester and organic cotton: a heather twill bonded to a poly knit, heather twill and classic poplin weave. The spin is the fabric is soft, durable and water resistant making it a match for a tailored goose down sweater and snap-down work shirt.

A fleece-like fabric that’s a mix of heathered Merino wool and recycled polyester was unveiled last fall in the company’s Randycoat collection. That line is expanding with the new Randygoat Plus Jacket and Hoody (MSRP $225), both using a heavier weight 400-gram Merino wool face compared to the current 300-gram pullover still in the line.

Women will benefit from the new Randygoat Pullover (MSRP $135). It transforms the traditional outdoor take on a fleece layer with stylistic details like a funnel neck, dropped hem, tailored fit and a back V point. Rounding out the collection, the form-fitting Randygoat Tights provide an ideal base layer for winter with the performance aspects of Merino wool and the warmth of fleece lining.

Images courtesy Nau

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