As a hessnatur-Insider and a big fan of ethical, good quality clothing, I’ve had luck and pleasure to participate in a weekend trip of hiking and clothes’ testing with an eco-fashion manufacturer — hessnatur. And all this in a beautiful surrounding of Rheinsteig in Rheingau (Rhine District located between the German towns of Wiesbaden and Lorch) and a great company of some 20 others. We were accompanied by the hessnatur team of six employees, a scientist from the Medical University of Graz in Austria as well as a hiking expert, author and TV presenter — Manuel Andrack. It was not only having fun as we had a big mission too — to find out (or rather to prove) that wool fabrics are way better i.e. more practical and comfortable than their synthetic equivalents during a physical activity. When we do sports our bodies are exposed to different temperatures. The ideal way is to wear fabrics that cool us down as we move and to keep us warm as we rest. Wool has proved to work this way as all of us agreed on at the end of the experiment.
Established in 1976, hessnatur is a German eco-fashion manufacturer of ethical clothing made from natural and organic fabrics. There are about 5500 pieces available each season in one of the three stores (Butzbach, Hamburg and Munich) as well as online. Being a member of Fair Wear Foundation since 2005, hessnatur strives to ensure that all processes taking place in their 150 factories run according to high ethical and social standards. Some of the standards include: no child labour, decent loans and a right to negotiate about loans, decent working conditions and no discrimination in employment. Being fair towards all people involved within the production chain as well as using good quality, fine fabrics makes the garments a little pricey. However, I consider it a fair price.
This pretty package awaited me in a hotel in Wiesbaden. It’s worth mentioning that it was also a gift as each of the participants was allowed to keep the clothes after the experiment.
During our two days of hiking along the picturesque Rheinsteig we tested functional underwear long-sleeved T-shirt made from organic merino wool. To keep us warm and dry we also wore an outdoor parka-jacket made from organic cotton with an inner pure new wool lining. The parka was impregnated with a beeswax instead of widely used synthetic paraffin. The jacket comes in two colours — chinchilla (shade of khaki) and carbon (very dark blue, almost black). As the Product Developer at hessnatur, Rolf Heimann, explained to us – trying to reduce the amount of synthetics in colour dies they use, they opted for carbon instead of pure black, which normally needs more intensive synthetic colouring. Additionally, we were equipped with a so called ‘i-button’, which measured our body’s temperature. We stuck it on our chests. Every now and then we also measured our pulse and made notes. We were divided into two groups — half of us wore an organic wool long sleeve t-shirt on a first day, and the other half a synthetic one. That way we could exchange our thoughts and experiences among each other.
Our first day turned out to be a challenge. Not due to the distance of some 14 km, but due to a constant rain and fog.
However, not everybody seemed to be bothered by the bad weather… Alfie — the hessnatur dog.
The British say — “There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” Since our clothing was very appropriate, we could concentrate on the beauty of the nature instead :-)
In the early evening we reached our destination — Eberbach Abbey where we ate and had a laugh :-)
Happier, because warmer and more comfortable, were those wearing wool as it turned out. Me and Manuel Andrack.
Hurraaay! On the second day it didn’t rain!
Our destination on the day two — Benedictine Abbey of St. Hildegard in Rüdesheim on the Rhine
And for all those who still doubt that eco-fashion is sexy — our model, Tom ;-)
All we need now is a group photo! :-)
And here a few live-impressions from our trip (in German)
photos: bottom two by hessnatur