Vaude started out tiny.1974, a one-man company in an old hops building in the Swabian district of Tettnang in Germany. It was here that Albrecht von Dewitz started tinkering with creating backpacks. The company has since gone on to having 1,500 employees and is known worldwide.
Von Dewitz – v.D. – VAUDE
Vaude, a tad strange, is what one thinks at first upon hearing the label’s name. when in fact it’s simply a variation or a play on the name of the company founder, Albrecht von Dewitz. And even though Albrecht von Dewitz in the meantime has stepped back from his active role (to lead Edelrid), the abbreviation Vaude still rings true: daughter Antje von Dewitz has now taken the reins of the company business. For over 35 years, the company has had its place in Obereisenbach, Germany and with its countless stories of success is still very much deeply rooted there.
The concept of “responsibility” is perhaps the true key to Vaude as a company. The first sentence of the mission statement makes this clear: “Vaude is mindful of both people and the environment”. This credo makes it clear, that Vaude are all about making the world a better place. “By responsibility, we understand,” mentions Antje von Dewitz, “to act not only on economic aspects, but also to take the environmental and social factors into consideration. Everything we do, should be carefully considered and viewed from various perspectives.”
…for the environment…
Vaude accepts responsibility for the environment via sustainable production. Even as far back as 1994, the company has been manufacturing high-tech clothing made from completely recycled fabrics and materials. Since 2001, more and more products are becoming certified according to the bluesign® standard. This means that outdoor products are gentle on resources, environmentally friendly and safe for employees and consumers. This direction has even followed Vaude to its own backdoor -Since 2012, the total production at company HQ’s in Obereisenbach, is carried out in a climate-neutral way. More and more Vaude are directing their sustainably purposeful beliefs in a strong shade of green. Its in-house “Green Shape” seal stands for environmentally friendly and sustainable production, they support WWF with a percentage of sales and they have now undergone signing up the German Sustainability Index ‘. “We want,” said Antje von Dewitz, “to contribute our bit to a life-quality world, so that the future generation can still enjoy nature. This is what motivates us Therefore we do everything possible that we can as a company, in regard to environmental protection and social responsibility.”
… for the people…
Vaude also assumes responsibility for the company’s employees. They make a point of ensuring that the employees at production facilities around the world receive fair wages and enjoy safe and fair working conditions throughout all stages of production. Vaude has production plants in Tettnang Germany and Bim Son in Vietnam – and via Fair Wear Foundation (FWF) undergo inspections and monitor interviews with employees.
Responsibly conscious outdoor products
Summing up what a customer is supporting when they decide on a Vaude product: One supports a strong, ethical attitude and the careful management of people and the environment. The company’s efforts are documented transparently within an in-depth sustainability report.
At the same time these goals always require a balance. “To act sustainably, is also associated with more effort and more cost,” clarifies Antje von Dewitz. However, as a company it’s worth the extra cost, even if that in turn affects profits, we consider it worth it. “We consistently go our own way, even when it’s, sometimes uncomfortable.” Antje von Dewitz goes on to explain “by 2017 we completely removed PVC material from our category of bags and have increased to a more environmentally friendly, waterproof alternative – again, in spite of the additional cost of 30 percent. For us it’s important to show the level of commitment behind our products. We are committed to raise awareness of the customer, either through dealer training, through our sustainability report or via joint initiatives with the manufacturer.”
Vaude these days, has nothing more to do with backpack production in the back of an old hops barn. The company now offers an entire range of outdoor equipment. Although backpacks, bags and bike bags are still its core competence, there is now also an extensive range of functional clothing, tents, sleeping bags and outdoor apparel. While the Vaude messenger bags are an ideal companion for the city as for taking along on a travel holiday, tents and jackets are made for more extreme conditions.