Q&A: Joanne Black, Craghoppers
We spoke to Craghoppers’ co-owner Joanne Black, about the firm’s new Autumn/Winter 2020 International Range, in which 70 per cent of the products will be made from recycled materials – a huge increase from the A/W2019 line, when only 12 per cent of the products were.
Firstly, what’s the reason behind this move?
We have always been a sustainable brand. Our Guarantee for Life on our clothing has been integral to what we have done from the beginning because we are confident that our products are built to last. Also recyclable materials have been used in our collections since 2015.
Has this been driven at an industry level as much as anything else? It seems every firm is launching similar ranges/initiatives.
The dramatic increase has been because the textile industry has made significant strides in making better recyclable materials and fabric mills have learnt how to use these materials in their manufacturing processes.
Logistically, how big a change is this for the company’s production processes?
It is a huge step for Craghoppers, something we have been working on for many years. The trials and testing of materials and products have been going for over two years and this is an ongoing process.
How much has been invested in that and in the marketing of the range?
We have invested considerable money and resources, working with consultants who have helped us navigate through this challenging area.
How much of this has been driven by customer feedback/demand?
We are happy it’s part of customers’ conversations. As a responsible outdoor brand, we have consumers and customers demanding to know more about our stance on sustainability and therefore this is very much a priority for us.
What does it do to the RRP? Will there be any difference?
We have managed to keep increases to a minimum for our consumers, with only slight increases on redesigned products. We are proud that we can keep prices for our sustainable products as low as possible so that everyone is able to afford them.
How has it been received by retailers that have seen it so far?
Our retailers love it and some have gone so far as to say that we are ahead of the curve as far as some brands in the market.
Performance is key, which is why we have spent so long on testing the materials and end products. Recycled fibres can be considered weaker. We have managed to overcome any weaknesses by mixing fibres and by looking at our garment construction.
What are the lead products in the range?
It’s important to us that we have lead products within each key category – trousers, mid layer and waterproof. For styles, our Kiwi trousers are now made from recycled materials and have always been key to the brand; the Lionel half zip is a retro style striped fleece made from recycled polyester and the Pember jacket which has recycled content in almost all its elements including its padding (100 per cent recycled), labels, buttons & zip tapes.
What can you tell us about the launch activity?
Our AW20 range will be launched as part of our Mindfully Made campaign in which we pledge to do what we can when we can to look after the planet, looking to progress every year. This will feature across the board online, on social, at exhibitions and in-store – providing clear messages of what we are committed to do.
Are there plans to move to 100 per cent recycled? Is that a possibility?
Our ultimate aim is to increase the percentage of recycled materials in our products. This is not an easy balance but we are working with our partners to produce better quality materials all the time.
As well as using recycled materials, we are also focusing on the chemical usage in our products, the dye stuff and water usage. This focus works in tandem with our ethical sourcing in our factories and our social impact and conservation programmes, which is why we feel this makes Craghoppers a vital brand for today’s consumer.