By Sara Canali
It was 1974 when Albrecht von Dewitz founded Vaude in Tettnang in Baden-Württemberg, a few kilometers away from Lake Constance. A story that is tied to the family history of its founder, but which finds its key ten years ago when it was the daughter Antje von Dewitz who took over the company and immediately decided to put social and environmental responsibility first. A fate that perhaps Antje herself did not expect to find in her hands: her dream was to work for an NGO, also influenced by the figure of a mother who has always been involved in environmental activism and with the awareness of wanting a better world for her four children. But sometimes fate knows how to weave its threads so well that it seems like there’s really a meaning in everything that happens. Her father’s business activity becomes an opportunity for her to transmit these values, to become a pioneer of a change in mentality that would soon involve the whole outdoor world and much more. Like a futuristic vision of a world where you can do your job in harmony with nature and with other people.
The first thing Antje does is creating a park for kids within the company, one of the areas most appreciated and shared by employees nowadays, as if to immediately emphasize the centrality of the person, even at work. “Living outdoor experiences, enjoying nature and the mountains: these are the things we have always been passionate about. Our goal is to support a world in which life is worth living. We are committed to this every day because we are convinced that a coherent and sustainable management is the only reasonable approach for our future”. The claim that accompanied Vaude’s production then cannot better describe the mission that the brand has been promoting in the last decade and the direction in which it is going. Since 2001, in fact, it has collaborated with the rigorous bluesign certification that controls the entire textile production chain and recognizes its ethical and responsible commitment. Furthermore, Vaude was the first outdoor company to receive the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) certification, the voluntary tool created by the European Community to evaluate and improve its environmental performance and to provide the public and other interested parties with information on its environmental management. As if that were not enough, Antje herself has promoted a program that looks to the future assuring the continue improving environmental performance with the aim of gradually transforming the entire range of products in order to be manufactured according to highest standards of environmental compatibility.
Creating a better world, therefore, is at the base of Vaude’s philosophy that has never stopped believing in outdoor and sustainable mobility as means of making this possible. A commitment not only from an environmental point of view, but also from a socially one with a constant update on the working conditions of its employees and suppliers both in Germany and in the production plants all over the world with which the company maintains cooperative and responsible commercial relationships . The independent organization Fair Wear Foundation regularly reviews all production facilities and ensures that working conditions are monitored and constantly improved. Flexible work, home office, health management, climbing and yoga lessons, rental of tools and much more are some of the initiatives promoted by the brand to guarantee value both for the working life as well as for the private life of its employees without the first prevaricate the second.
But obviously first of all Vaude is a company that produces equipment and technical clothing for the mountains, for hiking and cycling and that develops technical and cutting-edge products by supplying high quality materials, without forgetting the starting and the ending point, that in this case coincide: the mountains and the love for them. Having a heritage that starts from here means knowing how to recognize its own DNA in the outdoors and in the natural landscapes the scenario of its own existence to be safeguarded. But it also means relying on high and clearly defined and specialized standards for its products. Once the starting point has been specified, it is important to study the route. And here Vaude underlines the importance of interacting with nature and with people by putting “team spirit” at the center, like a team in mountain sports. Finally, the direction: go ahead by questioning the conventions and the limits of what it is possible, sometimes, but with the aim of creating future-oriented products and solutions, a reality in whose veins green blood pulsates and in whose thoughts there is the design of a better world.
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