sustainability

Sam Sandiford

February 23 2022

PRODUCTS BUILT TO LAST

At FW we make tools to protect you against the harsh elements of the outdoors, whether you’re riding a fat quarter pipe at top speed or you’re dropping into a steep couloir in the middle of a snowstorm. When enjoying the outdoors you are exposed to all the elements; snow, ice, dirt, rocks, sunlight, sweat and humidity. With this in mind, we create durable gear solutions that don’t crack under the pressure of the elements.

But these solutions are not quick or easy to create. Firstly, we have to conceptualize and design a product with a specific purpose; then we have to select the materials we want. Often, these materials require extracting limited resources from the ground, which are transformed into thread and weaved into a fabric fit for purpose. Then, the garment undergoes industrial processes to add color and waterproofing if needed. Finally, it is sewn together to create a piece of clothing ready for the great outdoors. This entire process emits CO2 into the atmosphere, which is why the global textile industry is responsible for around 10% of the world's CO2 emissions.

When we create high-quality, durable gear, we make sure to keep people and the planet in mind. However, creating products will always lead to some level of impact on our environment, which makes the final product that much more precious. You have the responsibility of taking good care of your clothes and making them lifeproof and multi-generational. We have the responsibility of making our products as durable and eco-conscious as possible to allow you to do this with ease. We do this by eco-designing our products to make sure that they have the potential to last for decades, using strong sustainable materials, and timeless colors to avoid yearly trends.

Marion Charpenet, FW Product Manager


We caught up with Marion, our product manager, based in Annecy, France, to learn more about this process:

We caught up with Marion, our product manager, based in Annecy, France, to learn more about this process:

What’s your mission at FW?

“Building the best products, true to the brand DNA and bringing onto the market unique products with our vision of the outdoors. It’s not only about the products, but also about the full team behind them, and that’s where my role is super important: finding the best designers, factories, fabric suppliers and involving them in a strong partnership, which is more than a basic business relationship. Quality is fully impacted and is key for the brand. In terms of environmental concern, I’ve learned by experience that common sense actions are usually the best ones, combined with total transparency and objectivity. Each step of the product development and delivery is an opportunity to improve, and there’s no detail that can be forgotten.”

Can you give us examples of your eco-design practices?

“When we develop products, we take time to explore the real needs of our end consumers. Then it’s about selecting the best fabric to fulfill these functions, and working with the designers and pattern makers on the final design. Our position at FW is that each product must remain in the collection for at least 3 years and we do our best to stay away from fast fashion culture. My approach at FW is to source the best fabric for each product. We can’t pretend to have the cleanest industry in terms of environmental impact, but things are moving in the right direction and there are solutions to reduce our footprint. Durability and quality are the first eco-design requirements for FW products, so we never compromise on that. Our fabric suppliers are our partners and we have access to the best fabrics, the best recycled yarns and down. That combined with locally sourced materials and low impact shipments, helps us to keep our emissions low. We are also developing a program to repurpose our leftover materials at the factory to supply our repair workshops or create accessories.”

What’s the product you are the most proud of?

“The ROOT DOWN JACKET is one of the most exciting products I have worked on. I love paradoxes, when you discover a lot of details on the product that seem super simple at first glance. The challenge here was to come up with a new down jacket combining the technical features found in iconic mountaineering garments, with versatile usage and minimalist design. The jacket features recycled down from Re:Down, ensuring no animals are harmed. It is composed of lightweight yet durable fabrics mixed together to achieve a beautiful monochrome finish.”

What about the FW repair service, can you tell me more about it?

“An important aspect of durability is helping the consumer to repair their garment, whatever the reasons are as to why the product is damaged (use or snag). I believe that when you invest in a garment, it’s part of the journey. For emotional and environmental reasons, it is key to have solutions to repair and increase the lifespan of our products. We have a partnership with several repair centers in Austria, the USA and Japan. They are able to repair any kind of issue using our bulk leftovers (fabrics, zippers, trims, etc.)”

Keeping our products in play is our priority. Using them for another year will reduce their impact by more than 30%. So imagine if when you’re done with it you pass it onto your friend, your neighbor, or even your kids. The more you use it, the lower its impact will be on the planet, based on a Life cycle analysis.

FW ambassador Severin van der Meer, who tests our products all year long in high-intensity situations says:

“I head to the mountains almost every day to connect with the natural elements that inspire me. I push the products pretty far in terms of durability and I provide comments and feedback to the product team when I find any issues. But I’m always happy to see that at the end of a season the gear still looks damn fresh! “

All of our products contain our team’s energy, their consciousness, engagement and confidence as well as a durable, eco-conscious mindset. That’s what we do for a living.

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