Although the clothing industry is often linked with unsustainable practices, outdoor or active wear producers are known for being stubborn advocates of environmental rights. To such an extent that the term “Sustainable Outdoor Clothing” has an almost tautological ring to it.
Many outdoor clothing companies are developing products made from recycled or organic materials, and extending the lifespan of these by prompting customers to repair/reuse instead of replacing. Unfortunately, these values are not shared by everyone. For a consumer presented with a plethora of brands, assessing the performance, price and environmental impact of a product can be a daunting task.
The Bluesign® System And What It Means For Outdoor Brands
To make sure that your chosen brand is doing its part, a good first step is to check if the manufacturer is a bluesign® system partner. The system helps manufacturers choose safe chemicals, materials and processes through every step of the supply chain. This effectively increases the sustainability of the end product and safety for consumers as well as workers. To find out whether a manufacturer is a partner, simply look for this label attached to their products.
We at The Fair Cottage would recommend choosing local brands whenever possible. In addition to reducing shipping distances, buying local provides the added benefit of supporting home-grown industries. Here are some of our favorite bluesign certified, European outdoor clothing manufacturers.
1. Vaude - Recycled And Organic Outdoor Clothing
Vaude, the German family-run outdoor clothing manufacturer tops many rankings on sustainability, was the first outdoor company to receive EMAS certification and is partnered both with the WWF and the Fair Wear Foundation.
Their inspiring journey begins with a humble love story between mountain and mountaineers. And even after all these years, Vaude is still doing its utmost to protect and nurture its beloved playground.
Among other things, the company produces completely PFC-free outdoor clothing made from recycled materials such as polyester, nylon and coffee grounds. They also produce organic outdoor clothing using biodegradable cellulose based fibres and organic cotton. What’s more, Vaude do their bit for society as well as sustainability by partnering with the Save the Children organisation.
While the products are designed with the well-being of its users and the environment in mind, there’s no loss of quality or durability. But when the inevitable wear and tear occurs, Vaude offer a repair service as well as DIY-manuals created in partnership with iFixit. In order to save time and effort, craftier adventurers can order the tools and spare parts to their home and fix their equipment on the go. More about Vaude and its sustainable values here.
2. Houdini - Innovative Active Wear
The Swedish outdoor clothing manufacturer, Houdini is so confident in the quality of its active wear products, that it provides a product lifetime warranty. Meaning that if any part of a product fails during the products lifetime, it will be repaired or replaced. In addition to attempting repairs whenever possible, Houdini has been producing fully recyclable and recycled outdoor clothing for the past 10 years. Since then, many plastic bottles have been upcycled as part of the ScrapMeUp project and leftover fabric from production has been used to manufacture limited edition garments.
Besides selling new, recycled or second-hand gear, the company has adopted an access economy model, allowing customers to rent shell garments from its stores. Not only does this encourage sharing instead of ownership, it also enables customers to try out gear in real-life conditions and reduce the amount of textiles they consume. For tips on how you can reduce your textile consumption, check out our Make The Switch To Slow Fashion article.
Currently, all of Houdini’s products are manufactured in Europe, and the brand requires its producers to share the same values of recyclable, renewable and circular production.
3. La Sportiva - Committed To Sustainability And Transparency
The Italian climbing and outdoor manufacturer, La Sportiva has been producing its gear in Val di Fiemme since 1928. Understandably, the company shares a profound connection with the mountains it has been surrounded by for the past 90 years. In order to maintain this relationship, the company strives to be transparent and act respectfully towards the environment. These qualities are demonstrated, for instance, by their ISO-certification in terms of environmental sustainability, and partnership with the European Outdoor Conservation Association.
Recently, La Sportiva innovated in the climbing sector by launching its new line of Mythos Eco climbing shoes, manufactured almost entirely from recycled materials. This innovative product is helping the brand to slowly grow the appeal and awareness around sustainable climbing gear.
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