Outdoor and sustainability: Although the outdoor business processes a comparatively small amount of fabrics and textiles compared to the fashion industry, it has established as a pioneer and innovator when it comes to sustainability. In addition, it is increasingly meeting customer expectations, which are particularly demanding on this issue. OutDoor show in Friedrichshafen from 17 to 20 June, 2018 clearly demonstrates that the industry is continuing to rise to the challenge and manufacturing using clean, fair and high-quality techniques to an ever-greater extent. The result: backpacks made from recycled fishing nets, T-Shirts made from ocean waste and recycled laminates made from PET bottles which are now a serious functional alternative to less eco-friendly membranes.
Although the outdoor industry might only be responsible for five per cent of international down production and a tiny percentage of the world’s wool production, it is outdoor firms who initiated the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) and also work according to the strict regulations of the ‘Down Codex’, to meet animal welfare guidelines and high quality standards. Wool is also regulated by the Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) or ‘Zque’ certified. At present, Europe’s main outdoor companies are members of the Fair Wear Foundation and have their production audited according to the most rigorous international social standards. When it comes to PCFs, every greater numbers of manufacturers are changing their production. Jack Wolfskin announces at this year’s OutDoor that its complete clothing collection will be PFC-free by 2019. Further brands, such as Maiersports and Vaude are already over 90 % PFC-free.
At the 25th jubilee edition of the OutDoor show in Friedrichshafen, plastic microfibres is a widely-discussed topic. Last year, the Guppyfriend, a special washbag with a filter function that captures microplastic particles during the washing process received an OutDoor Gold Award. Certain firms offer it in their collection, to help promote its use. However, it remains clear that: “We need creative ideas and to drive research forward to develop genuine long-term solutions that are not just based on filtration,” argues Melanie Kuntnawitz, Sustainability Manager Jack Wolfskin. Vaude proves that this is possible with Biopile: a fabric pile fleece – a cellulose fibre that is 100% biodegradable. At OutDoor 2018, Röjk are launching a collection made exclusively from natural fibres or biologically degradable polyactides. Waldkauz and Roughstuff are showcasing jackets made of Loden and wool fleece that involve no microplastics. Picture is presenting fully compostable sweat jackets.
Recycling and the circular economy is becoming more and more important in the industry. Meanwhile, recycled PET, also known as re-PET, is a high-quality material that is also a functional alternative to less eco-friendly membranes. Fjällräven’s Eco Shell, Marmot’s EvoDry or Jack Wolfskin’s Ecosphere are made of 100 % recycled polyester or polyamide. Brettschneider is even launching the first mosquito net made of recycled polyester yarns. Basque firm, Ternua issues each of its products with a print showing how many PET bottles have been used to make it.
Stretch fabrics will be completely recycled in the future too. Taiwanese manufacturer Sheico is starting a “new green era” with the first ever recycled Spandex yarn, while Primaloft is offering a synthetic insulation made from 100 per cent PCR (Post-consumer recycled polyester) without making any sacrifices on performance and softness. Vaude is making backpacks and bags from recycled fishing nets, this is a significant step forward given that ten years ago nylon 6,6 was considered impossible to recycle. Adidas is now introducing a range of products from functional T-shirts, to footwear midsoles, to outer layer fabrics from ocean waste and supporting the ‘Parley for the Oceans’ initiative, which puts forward solutions to end marine plastic pollution by cleaning up shorelines, collecting plastic waste and using closed loop recycling systems. And Edelrid produces climbing ropes from recycled polyamide.
Sustainability is not something prescribed by law, but the majority of outdoor firms are now committed to sustainability and transparent social standards. Where there is a will, there is a way. Outdoor companies are making this crystal clear.
The 25th OutDoor jubilee edition show takes place from Sunday 17 to Wednesday 20 June 2018 and is open to trade visitors only.