January 10, 2018 The natural promise
With the Ortovox Wool Promise, the German mountaineering brand is challenging the industry’s standards for an ethically responsible sourcing of Merino wool – while making friends on the other side of the globe.
The ORTOVOX passion for wool goes back to the eighties. When the German alpine safety pioneer launched its first mountainwear series in 1988, all jackets, sweaters, gloves and socks were completely made of wool. Thirty years later, the natural material is still playing a key role. It is used in every single product of the current collection – Merino wool from Tasmania in their underwear, hoodies, fleece jackets or the inside of hardshell products and Swisswool from the alps for their insulation.
Ties of friendship in Tasmania
“Everything we do is related to and inspired by nature,” explains Sustainability Manager Stefanie Rieder-Haas.
“In that sense, wool has always been a natural choice for us. We love the functionality, the look and the feel – and not least the sustainability aspect of it.”
With the Ortovox Wool Promise (OWP), the company has now created its own rigorous industry standard for the ethically responsible sourcing of wool. It aims to promote best practices in animal welfare and land management, and to meet the concerns of consumers and of non-governmental organizations. The promise serves both as a concrete guideline and as a statement that reflects the brand’s values of sustainability, friendship and wool expertise.
“ORTOVOX has twenty years experience in working with merino wool, and since we have discovered the nature paradise of Tasmania as a perfect source for the premium fiber, we have built strong relationships with the farmers that provide our raw material,” says Stefanie.
She points out how important it is to work with people with the same mindset, with suppliers who share the understanding of what is ethically responsible and that a sustainable approach is more profitable in the long run.
Beyond the supply chain
ORTOVOX has been actively involved in the development of the global certification system Responsible Wool Standard (RWS). During this work, the company recognized that its own criteria for wool suppliers even went beyond this standard, particularly in aspects that are not part of the wool supply chain:
“We also care about what happens to the sheep after they leave the farm: how they are transported, where and how they are slaughtered. That operators are quality assured and use humane practices,” says the Sustainability Manager.
“Therefore, we felt the need for our own, more comprehensive standard.”
Security and motivation for farmers
Developing the OWP took about two years.
“We went through intensive rounds of meetings with auditors, wool traders and all of the farmers from our six farms,” reports Stefan Krause, Head of Product at ORTOVOX.
“This resulted in more than 60 indicators that will be checked annually by an independent auditor, but even more important was that all participants committed to raising the wellbeing of the sheep to an even higher level.”
Will Bennett, owner of 9 000 Merinos in the eastern highlands of Tasmania, was one of the farmers who participated in the OWP development. He is as enthusiastic about the promise as his German partners:
“It means purchase security for producers, fair prices and the motivation to work even more healthily. And I am convinced that consumers appreciate the value of sustainable natural products.”
Ortovox Wool Promise (OWP)
Ethical mindset, practices, training of farm managers and employees.
Nutrition, infrastructure, health,husbandry, shearing and handling.
Soil and biodiversity management and environmental awareness.
Slaughter and Transport
Humane slaughtering methods and limitation of transport.
All indicators are inspected on-site by a third party control body and supported by a legal document.
ORTOVOX at ISPO: Hall A3 416