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A Cut Above

Leather. Most of us own leather goods—shoes, purses, wallets, belts—and most of us have some knowledge of how it’s made. Leather is a natural material with properties that make it ideal for footwear. Unfortunately, this dream material can come at a huge cost to humans, animals and the environment when improperly handled. However, at HAIX® we handle things differently.

Leather has unique breathability and waterproofing properties that make it an ideal material, especially when partnered with a GORE-TEX® lining for the industry's best water resistance. HAIX® also uses thicker bullhide leather compared to cowhide, which is thinner due to the need for stretching during pregnancy. The breathability is also unique. Leather retains its ability to allow vapor to escape while also preventing a certain amount of larger water molecules from getting through.

Recently, leather has gotten a bad rap. Horrible conditions in Asian tanneries have made the news. HAIX® is different. We source all our leather in Europe from tanneries that not only adhere to the highest safety regulations, they have created their own standards for workers and for the environment. "We are happy to show where our leather comes from," says Christian Tasch, Head of the Strategic Purchasing Department at HAIX®. The Heinen leather factory, the main supplier of HAIX®, is also happy to open its doors for a glimpse behind-the-scenes.

Heinen Leather

"Was a happy bull," says Thomas Heinen as he pulls a freshly tanned piece of leather from the stack in the sparkling white tannery. No scars, no discoloration, no unevenness - a perfect piece of leather by any standard. Since 1891, the Heinen family business has been producing leather for many shoemakers in the area, including HAIX®, on a large scale. Thomas Heinen is a fourth-generation leatherworker, and his products have a great reputation worldwide.

Heinen Leather created their terracare® label several years ago, the highest standards for leather production and protection in the industry. "There is no absolute organic or allergy-free leather," says the leather specialist. "But there is an ecologically optimally produced leather," says the company boss. And that's what terracare® stands for. Three things are particularly important to the responsible entrepreneur in production: "We produce in Germany. We produce as environmentally friendly as possible. And we take our social responsibility very seriously."

The quality of Heinen starts with the raw material with skins exclusively from Europe. Certified chemicals from European suppliers are used in the tanning process. The skin processing is subject to the strictest environmental and social standards and is produced under safe and controlled conditions. The result is the highest quality leather with thicknesses between 1.3 and 3.0 millimeters.

terracare® also includes the atmospheric CO2 pollution of the leather produced per article and per square meter. This allows the consumer to consciously choose an ecologically optimally produced leather. Leather as it should be—environmentally friendly, 100% transparent raw material origin, 100% clean excipients, at least 97% recycling/recycling, at least 40% less water consumption and at least 30% less CO2 emissions during production.

Viviani Leather

The second major HAIX® leather supplier is the Croatian family business Viviani, a tannery that is also committed to high HAIX® standards in its leather production. Viviani has well-maintained production facilities, the use of geothermal energy and solar energy, biological and chemical wastewater treatment, which even allows connected greenhouses to be irrigated with the "wastewater" from the tannery. Of course, high social standards for employees are also among the natural foundations of the production company.

"We expect standards like these from our suppliers to the last link in the supply chain," says HAIX® purchasing strategist Tasch. In the case of leather, for example, a product number on each piece ensures continuous transparency. Through them, its origin can be traced from the grazing cattle back to the shoe box.

The HAIX® Promise

Sustainability in production is as self-evident for HAIX® as the quality of its products. Clean, ecologically sustainable and combined with high social standards for employees are indispensable criteria of our corporate philosophy. This applies to leather as well as to all other parts and materials used in our innovative boots.

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