Firefighters may know where their boots will take them, but do they know where they came from? As the world calls for greater supply-chain transparency, it may matter more than ever before.
Supply-chain transparency and ethical production are no longer marketing buzzwords but corporate commitments demanding the attention of businesses across a broad spectrum of industries. Businesses should ensure that their workwear suppliers use procedures to minimise social and environmental impacts, factory workers are safe, and working conditions are fair and hygienic.
German global footwear manufacturer HAIX made a corporate responsibility promise on MADE IN EUROPE manufacturing, which encompasses fair working conditions, sustainable practices and modern testing facilities.
Dr Djavid Salehi, Sales Manager Asia/Pacific region at HAIX, shares how the family business has stayed true to its promise since its founding in 1948.
What does the MADE IN EUROPE label mean?
Dr Salehi: ‘The MADE IN EUROPE label was created to demonstrate that a product was manufactured following European regulations, making products safer and less damaging to the environment. However, European regulations can be lax and repeatedly allow for loopholes. For example, if the upper and sole of a shoe are put together in an EU member state, the shoe is allowed to bear the MADE IN EUROPE label – regardless of whether the two components were originally manufactured elsewhere in the world. HAIX shoes, however, are 100% manufactured in Europe and adhere to socially responsible guidelines. Looking for the label is one thing, but businesses still need to ask questions – for example, where different product parts are manufactured and put together.’
Why would an organisation choose to manufacture every part of a shoe in Europe?
Dr Salehi: ‘Although European manufacturing is frequently associated with higher costs, HAIX chooses Europe because regulations protect worker rights and ensure a certain level of environmental and social consideration. For example, leather tanneries in certain parts of the world use toxic chemicals and dyes that place workers at risk of cancer, eczema, blindness and asthma and put the environment at risk of pollution should these harmful substances transfer to water waste. Leather is the most important material in our shoes, so HAIX only uses certified suppliers that guarantee animal welfare and toxin-free processing.’
How does HAIX ensure its materials are high quality?
Dr Salehi: ‘HAIX’s production sites in Mainburg, Germany and Mala Subotica, Croatia are among the world’s most modern shoe production facilities. HAIX shoes are put through their paces to ensure that they exceed the minimum standards as much as possible, including undergoing a series of over 100 material and quality assurance tests, replicating the day-to-day challenges of wearers, who spend most of their time on their feet. Using high-quality materials can extend the life of footwear and encourage prolonged use.’
What does the future of workwear production look like?
Dr Salehi: ‘Both suppliers and buyers will need to demonstrate ethical practices to ensure products are being manufactured in a responsible and sustainable way, that the workers involved are treated fairly and safely, and that environmental and social impacts have been considered. It will be no longer be a “nice to have” but a necessity as a business’s employees, customers and other stakeholders demand action against issues such as climate change, modern slavery and achieving a circular economy. The MADE IN EUROPE label may have loopholes, but those who live out its true meaning are and will continue to make a difference to our people and planet. When choosing your footwear, take it seriously, because when the reputation of your supply chain hangs in the balance, it won’t just be factory workers and the environment paying the price.’
For more information, go to www.haix.co.uk