January 10, 2018 From the mountains, for the mountains
Mountaineering specialist Salewa combines wool from the Tyrolean mountain sheep with modern Celliant technology and utilizes a highly functional natural fiber harvested by local mountain farmers.
South Tyrolean mountain sheep wool can be found in many winter jackets made by the mountaineering specialist Salewa. This idea from a few years ago was the brainchild of Peter Veider, Managing Director of the Tyrolean mountain rescue organization:
“We wanted to outfit the mountain rescuers with natural fibers from the region,” explains Veider.
However, beyond all sustainability efforts, the quality had to be right. Fulfilling this requirement wasn’t easy at first. Despite all its advantages, the Tyrolean mountain sheep does not produce a fine wool like its cousin, the Merino sheep.
“The end user has become a little spoiled in this regard. Primarily when the textiles are worn directly on the body,” says Christine Ladstätter, Head of Product Innovation at Salewa’s apparel division. According to Christine Ladstätter, the mountain sheep’s wool is excellent for one thing – as an insulation material in the form of highly functional wool padding.
This is why Salewa ultimately agreed when Peter Veider came to them with his idea of promoting the Tyrolean mountain sheep and supporting their owners as a local supplier of raw materials. A raw material that until recently – it should be mentioned – was rarely put to use and was often discarded after shearing.
The sustainability concept not only includes the short transportation routes, but also the cleaning and refining process that takes place in Bergamo and Cittadella. Once the wool is washed, it is refined.
Ecological insulation aid
This refining process includes the initial step of oxygen treatment called Oxy- Wash, a patented wash that differs from conventional processes in that it forgoes the use of chlorine, which is harmful from an environmental standpoint. This ensures its washability and makes the wool soft, odorless, and more breathable. Above all, the sheep’s wool in most jackets (Puez, Ortles, Fanes) is also furnished with an insulation aid that is crucially important when it comes to the competition for the best winter jackets: Celliant.
Functionality and sustainability
Technically speaking, Celliant is a patented mix of thermoactive minerals in a fine powder form. The material is embedded in recycled polyester fibers and absorbs the body’s long-wave infrared rays and radiates them back over a longer period of time. Similar to a small infrared sauna, the rays stimulate local circulation.
Put simply: The body stays at operating temperature longer. Once the multifunctional Tyrolean mountain sheep fleece is finally stitched and packed in a dense fiber weave, a successful symbiosis of functionality and sustainability emerges.
A national return system
The customer response was positive, and in September Bergans was able to scale up the system. To make the product return option available to Norwegian customers living outside the capital city region, Bergans developed the “Pantepose” (The Return Bag), a 20-liter recyclable LD-Polythene bag equipped with the company’s address and prepaid postage. For every bag sent in, Bergans offers a rebate coupon as a bonus.
“Within a month, people had ordered around 700 bags from our webshop. A few weeks later we had received over 300 outdoor products.”
Returned products from Bergans are repaired and sold in the flagship store’s second-hand department. Products from other brands that are in good shape are donated to an aid organization.
“A lot of the clothes that are not repairable go into our own redesign project, where we use the textiles etc. to make unique, handmade products with a new functionality. This is also a way to show our customers how much can be done with a product instead of letting it go to waste,” explains Christoph Centmayer.
Salewa at ISPO: Hall A4, CSR Hub