German bikepacking brand Vaude is hoping to provide sustainable products to the UK bike market. Gernot Moser, head of sales bike sports offers an insight to the brand’s sustainability focus
This piece first appeared in the December edition of BikeBiz magazine – get your free subscription here
Can you give us a little background on Vaude?
Vaude is a family-run business, formed in Germany in the 70s. Our founder, Albrecht von Dewitz, had a love for mountain sports and wanted to take his passion one step further and turn it into a business.
The Vaude team worked relentlessly in the years that followed, creating a bike sports range and we were also the first outdoor company to produce an entire product range using Bluesign standards – a really fantastic achievement for us.
One of our most exciting launches to date is our ‘Green Shape’ standard for gear, which can be seen across the full Vaude bike range. Our Vaude Green Shape standard is a label that identifies environmentally friendly products that are made from sustainable yet functional materials – think biobased and recycled.
They all feature an incredibly durable design, are made using sustainable technologies, and are easy to both maintain and repair. The Green Shape standard also incorporates fair wages and fair working conditions. We saw a gap in the market for products that truly comprise all these important principles, so decided to make our own.
As well as being sustainable, we want Vaude gear to last a lifetime. That’s why our designs are timeless, they don’t follow fast fashion trends, and this helps us – and the consumer – keep waste to an absolute minimum.
We encourage our consumers to ensure long-term usability of our gear by offering sustainable tips and user manuals on our website. A product only becomes truly sustainable if it’s used for as long as possible.
On top of all of this, we were excited to announce this year that all our products are climate neutral, and our HQ has been since 2012.
What area of the market do you target?
Our primary focus is the outdoor and active lifestyle markets. Think biking, hiking, mountaineering, and camping. Our range of products includes backpacks, tents, sleeping bags, and pads, and clothing and gear for the great outdoors.
We are keen to target consumers that are, or want to be, more sustainable whilst they enjoy their time in nature. Besides, the planet we are working on protecting is the same planet we love exploring so it makes sense that the two go hand-in-hand!
What makes your products unique? What unique offerings do you have for retailers?
What makes Vaude products stand out so much is certainly the sustainable accolades that come with them. It’s what we’re most passionate about when designing, manufacturing, and selling our gear.
We work hard to find biobased and recycled materials, such as biobased plastics and Nylon, made using castor oil. The great thing about castor beans – which produce the oil we use – is that they can be grown without supplemental irrigation, on poor soil, and it doesn’t compete with the food chain.
Biobased plastics can include zippers, buckles, and hooks and they feature all the same properties as conventional materials, only they’re greener. Biobased Nylon is actually better than traditional Nylon – it’s significantly stronger, more elastic, lighter, and absorbs less moisture whilst making a real contribution to climate protection- a no brainer!
This, as well as our vigilance to fair working conditions and encourages sustainability throughout the entire product life cycle, really make our products unique. They can easily compete against other outdoor brands in terms of functionality, just with the added benefit of being green.
We really encourage our retailers to shout about our green accolades as it’s truly what makes us stand out in the crowd, from the actual product right down to our packaging which uses environmentally friendly cardboard and polybags made from recycled materials. We offer POS material to our retailers to help them showcase the benefits of buying a more sustainable product and we support our dealers through our UK distributor, Raleigh.
What sort of feedback have you received from the industry?
There has been an increased interest in sustainable products over the recent years because of climate change becoming more and more obvious. The youth-led climate movement, Fridays For Future started by Greta Thunberg, has created heightened awareness about the adverse impact caused by the climate crisis. It has pushed the general public worldwide to rethink what they’re buying and who they’re buying from.
This is the feedback we have received from the industry. Consumers know there’s no excuse for brands who aren’t making a conscious effort to make change, and it’s strengthened us, as a brand, in our path. We know consumers value responsible economic management.
What are your plans for 2023 and beyond?
We’ll continue our sustainable way. By 2024, 90% of all Vaude products will include over 50% bio-based or recycled materials. One of our important next steps is to reduce CO2 emissions in the supply chain, with the goal of 50% reduction by 2030. This will primarily come from material consumption and energy use.