Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Visit to Wolford Headquarters: Part Two - Reflections

Last month Hosiery For Men visited the Wolford headquarters in Bregenz, Austria.




Part One of our visit report has already been published and you can read it here.

Thanks for all the really positive and interesting comments.

In this final post I will share a few final reflections on the visit.

Sustainability


I wasn't fully aware of this aspect before my visit, but I learned that Wolford takes its responsibility towards the environment very seriously indeed.

It was clear to be their commitment isn't simple tokenism or a fake corporate PR manoeuvre. It really does seem to be part of the DNA of Wolford to have the highest standards in relation to sustainability, and this is reflected at every level of operation.

Wolford believes that local action is important, and that positive change must be everyone's responsibility. Wolford wishes to play a leading role in sustainability in the textile industry, which is the second largest polluter worldwide.

For Wolford this is not just about meeting current rules and regulations, but going beyond this to see opportunities to develop better processes and new products.

In 2016, Wolford voluntarily signed a target agreement with klimaaktiv, a climate protection initiative of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management. This includes taking steps towards climate protection, emissions reduction and an increase in energy efficiency.

Wolford has therefore pledged to continuously identify and implement measures to improve energy efficiency. For example, Wolford has already introduced hot water and steam systems that resulted in an annual reduction of 300 tones of CO2 and cost savings of approximately EUR 60,000 per year.



Wolford is an official partner of the independent Bluesign® system, which applies a unique approach to improve the impact of the textile industry on the environment and people. The aim is to ensure that all components and processes are audited in advance of production, eliminating unsustainable substances before they enter the production cycle. This ensures the entire supply chain of a product is audited in relation to resource productivity, consumer safety, air emission, water emission and occupational health and safety, as opposed to the finished product only.



Wolford is actually the first hosiery manufacturer in the world that ensures its processes meet these high standards.

Wolford’s newest sustainable development is the Cradle to Cradle® collection. All materials used in Cradle to Cradle® products have a completely safe biological life cycle.



We have already reviewed two products from the collection. The Wolford Aurora Leggings and the Wolford Aurora Pullover.



Quality control


I provided some information on this in the first visit report.

However, I do want to emphasise further the real and visible commitment to making sure that when you buy a Wolford product, you are getting a garment that is really the best in every respect.

As I toured around the HQ and learned about the production process, quality control was a thread running through everything. There are rigorous checks at every single stage of the production process.

The aim is to make sure that every single pair of tights is perfect in every aspect. Only when each pair of tights has passed every stage of quality checking, are they packed and made ready for sale. Before being packaged each pair of tights is checked against 21 clearly identified quality criteria such as elasticity and stretching.

I also learned that if for any reason a Wolford products is returned because of a fault, the garment is examined carefully and rigorously to identify what went wrong.

This is how a brand achieves a reputation for quality - not through slogans but by real steps.

Wolford's male customers


Throughout the visit I was reassured that Wolford genuinely values all its customers, including men buying Wolford tights, leggings and other products.

Wolford has made a number of positive steps recently to develop its inclusive ethos and target products to the male demographic.
This was confirmed in our recent MEN BUYING TIGHTS survey, that so many of you contributed to. Wolford achieved the highest recognition of any hosiery brand for inclusivity towards male customers.

Wolford are committed to making improvements in their hosiery range to ensure male needs are met. Here are some examples that many of you will already be aware of: 

  • Wolford have made improvements to the waistband design of many of their tights, so that there is more comfort and less rollover. (Keep an eye out for waistband improvements and upgrades, including to some of Wolford's key basic styles). 
  • Wolford are offering larger size options for many products, and will continue to extend this 
Of course this also builds on the other steps Wolford have taken recently, such as:
The following are some of the issues and suggestions arising from the survey that we discussed:
  • Marketing towards male customers 
  • The unisex nature of Wolford tights and other legwear products 
  • Fashion trends that are increasingly unisex and genderless 
  • How men might be shown wearing Wolford tights and other garments in marketing and retail imagery. 
Following the visit I am confident that Wolford will take further steps to include and engage with their male customers.

Thank you

Finally I would like to say a big thank you to Wolford for inviting the Hosiery For Men blog to visit their HQ. The welcome, hospitality and whole experience was memorable.


A special thanks to Matteo, the former Director of Online, as well as Tina, Astrid and Katharina.

2 comments:

  1. So no signs of male specific product. Shame however even if they do, and there are skme possible signs in the marketing, theys want a marketing coup. Fingers and dare i say legs crossed!!

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  2. I took a long break from reading your blog & came back just now (I was "TFM"). So impressive to see how things have progressed, to include this amazing trip to Wolford HQ in Austria! What a delight that must've been. Also to see them host your interview on their site shows that they are taking men's buying needs seriously. Who knows, maybe one day we'll see "waist socks" make a comeback. :-)

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