Never before has the outdoors been so important to us. In the past few months the benefits of pulling on your walking boots and heading out to your local piece of green space has been appreciated by many. It doesn’t cost a lot – no expensive gym fees (well, they haven’t been open anyway) – but the positive effect of being at one with nature to your mental health is priceless.
Craghoppers, experts in outdoor and adventure clothing and accessories, started back in 1965 when two young men turned their passion for the outdoors into an honest business. Brian Gaskin and Roy Holmes created clothing that would keep them warm and dry, wherever they went and whatever they did. They tested it far and wide, from local crags to the top of Everest – proving that their designs were tough enough for even the world’s highest mountain!
Their legacy of innovation lives on. They created fabric technologies such as the Breakthrough System, which today we call AquaDry waterproof technology, making our outdoor jackets waterproof and breathable. And since being bought by the Regatta Group in 1995, Craghoppers has continued to innovate, from shirts and trousers with UV sun protective SolarShield technology to the anti-insect properties of its NosiLife travel clothing range.
Craghoppers even set the standard in walking trousers with its world-renowned Kiwi trousers – becoming the go-to brand for outdoor adventure and travel clothing! In the past year alone the company has received Industry awards for its footwear, luggage and, most recently, new Dynamic 12,000 technology, which will launch instore and online in September.
Still, these days a successful business can’t rely on producing excellent products alone.
A solid, sustainable business
One of the owners of Craghoppers, Joanne Black, spearheads the Regatta Group’s sustainability programme. “While we are creating these fantastic products for the outdoors,” she says, “we also want to make sure that we are having a positive effect on everyone that comes into contact with our business.”
From consumers to retailers to factory workers, as a family-run business, people are at the heart of Craghoppers. For example, the company works closely with all its factories to ensure workers have safe working conditions and that their wellbeing is looked after.
“The welfare of our factory workers is so important to us,” Black says. “We have been members of the Ethical Trading Initiative [ETI] since 2012. We have also built good relations up with our suppliers over many years.”
Black also initiated working with likeminded organisations such as Bluesign, Higg Index, Microfibre Consortium and BCI Cotton to ensure that the production processes, fabric sourcing and products are as sustainable and mindful of the planet as possible. “We know we still have some way to go, but we are making positive steps every year. And it’s exciting to see just how far we can go.”
This was a very proud moment for the whole team! We have been using recycled bottles in our microfleeces since 2015 but now we use recycled content throughout the ranges
Last year Craghoppers increased the number of recycled products to 70 per cent from 12 per cent the previous winter. In the same year, the company was also awarded Brand of the Year 2020 by Drapers magazine in its Sustainable Fashion Awards.
“This was a very proud moment for the whole team!” Black enthuses. “We have been using recycled bottles in our microfleeces since 2015 but now we use recycled content throughout the ranges. And we are delighted that, by the end of 2021, we will have recycled more than 50 million plastic bottles!”
Since 2008, the company has also supported a school in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where more than 260 four- to 14-year-olds, including those with learning or physical disabilities, can learn and play in a fun, safe environment and receive a balanced meal every day. “With a big focus on literacy, we have a well-stocked library full of books and we are thrilled that an old pupil has returned to work as our librarian!”
It has been difficult over lockdown with the school closed, as many have been across the world, but Craghoppers has continued to support the pupils and their families with regular food and activity parcels.
In addition, for more than five years the company has provided workshops and training for female workers in the factories through the Regatta Health Education Programme (RHEP). “Gender equality is high on our agenda,” Black says, “and we want to empower our female workers by providing basic information on health, hygiene, nutrition and finance: all the skills needed to lead a healthy life.”
So, as lockdown lifts, what outdoor clothing and accessories will you be investing in?
For many years, Craghoppers has supported Irish adventurers who have tested its kit to the max. From explorers on top of Everest to supporting Aid agencies in South Africa, this passion is equally shared with the weekend trekkers on the Wicklow Mountains and the walkers along the Wild Atlantic Way.
Everyone needs a decent pair of walking trousers; over the years Craghoppers has sold millions of pairs of Kiwi trousers. The Kiwi Pro trouser remains a firm favourite, even more so now that they are made from 280g of recycled yarns. Thanks to the company's Smartdry Eco and SolarShield technologies, they will protect from the rain and sun. And the genius sunglasses wipe added to the pocket is also perfect for keeping your camera lens smudge-free.
The Kiwi Trek boots have been put through their paces since launch last December. They look like a traditional leather walking boot but extra technical appeal with the addition of NosiLife anti-insect treatment to the mesh collar, AquaDry membrane for waterproof protection and the EVA footbed and midsole for instant out-of-the-box comfort.