South Tyrol’s mountain sports outfitter Salewa is setting the pace with sustainable product development. A number of groundbreaking material innovations have emerged in recent years. “Tirol Wool” came onto the market three years ago. This wool is obtained locally and washed in Piedmont so that the Lanol is preserved. This is important for the insulating and thus warming effect of the wool. Today the material replaces all synthetic filling materials at Salewa. “TirolWool® Responsive” was launched at the end of September 2020: By adding minerals, decisive new and positive properties of the material can be achieved. And in spring-summer 2021 a collection from “Alpine Hemp” will be presented. The environmentally friendly and high-performance natural fiber hemp is intended to further promote Salewa’s commitment to a circular economy.
Sustainability and fair production conditions? At Salewa, of course.
Salewa is the only Italian company to be the lead partner of the Fair Wear Foundation, the most important non-profit organization for social standards in the textile sector. For Salewa this means: transparency along the entire production chain. Salewa Marketing Director Thomas Aichner: “Our credibility comes from the fact, that we make products by mountaineers for mountaineers. But we also have to take responsibility for what we produce. To this end, we have adopted internationally valid standards for the goals we have set ourselves. These are the standards of the Fair Wear Foundation for social aspects, of OEKO-TEX® and bluesign® for ecological aspects. We are not positioning ourselves as an eco-company, but as a mountaineering company that acts responsibly.”
“Up until a few years ago, Salewa, like all mountain sports companies, used synthetic filling materials, especially PrimaLoft,” explains Thomas Aichner. Since wool has a long tradition as an insulating material in the Alps, the idea arose to look for ways to replace the synthetic material with wool. This resulted in the material Tirol Wool, wool from North and South Tyrol, which gradually replaced synthetic insulation materials, but is also used as a fabric in various products. Salewa has meanwhile become the largest buyer of wool in Tyrol.
When nature meets function: Salewa Responsive Technologie
Two years ago, the project was further developed through contact with a Swiss company that grinds minerals from Brazil into dust and can work them onto and into fabrics. The wool is now combined with this material. This layer causes body heat to be reflected back onto the body in the form of infrared. The minerals store the energy given off by the body and give it back again. This has some decisive advantages: the lactate levels drop, the heart calms down and you can recover better when you sleep or rest.
Perform better – recover faster is the claim of TirolWool® Responsive.
This was tested and proven by the Polytechnic University of Turin. Salewa is so far the first mountain sports outfitter to use this material or to apply Responsive Technology to wool. The Responsive Technology is also used for other materials at Salewa. All in all, with around 70 products in the autumn and winter collection 20/21, from clothing to sleeping bags to winter shoe models.
The project continues
Attempts are currently being made with a South Tyrolean geologist to use minerals from the Dolomites for TirolWool® Responsive. The minerals are to be ground at the Swarovski company in Wattens in Tyrol. “The result is a complete alpine product,” says Thomas Aichner. “We expect Salewa to be able to launch the material on the market in a year. And what is particularly important to us: a cycle is created. “
We tried on some of the TirolWool® Responsive products in the Salewa Concept Store in Bolzano. Our feedback: It feels great.
You can find more information about Salewa’s materials here.