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Made in Europe Begins in the Pasture

Leather, suppliers and high production levels

Leather is a natural product and an ideal material to make comfortable and high-quality shoes. Unfortunately, from time to time, images of unspeakable conditions in Asian tanneries put this natural raw material into a questionable light. Not with us! Never at HAIX!

Sustainability in production is as natural to HAIX as the high-quality of its products. “Clean, ecologically sustainable practices combined with high social standards for employees" are indispensable criteria of HAIX's corporate philosophy. This applies to leather as well as to all other parts and materials of the shoe collections of the Bavarian functional shoe specialist.

“That's why we like to show where our leather comes from," says Christian Tasch, Head of Strategic Purchasing at HAIX: The Heinen leather factory, located in the Rhineland and the main supplier of HAIX, gives visitors an open and transparent look behind the scenes. Heinen has been producing shoe uppers at its Wegberg site in Germany for 130 years. Environmental protection has been actively practiced at Heinen for decades.

The terracare® label, launched by the traditional tannery itself, meets the highest standards in terms of the environment, production and social standards – in keeping with the HAIX philosophy.

“This was a happy bull," says Thomas Heinen, flipping a freshly tanned hide from the pile in the spick-and-span tannery. No scars, no discoloration, no unevenness – a piece of leather of perfect quality. Since 1891, the traditional family business has been producing leather for shoemakers – for decades on a large scale for HAIX. Thomas Heinen is the fourth generation to lead the family business. The quality of its products enjoys a worldwide reputation. Cheap competition from the Far East? Not an issue for him! There is a reason for that: With the terracare® label, Heinen has subjected itself to the very highest production standards for many years.

"There is no such thing as an absolutely bio-, eco-, organic- or allergy-free leather," says the leather specialist. You always have to be aware of that, he said. “But there is environmentally optimal production of leather," says the company boss from Wegberg in the Rhineland. That is what terracare® stands for.

Terracare® is exemplary manufactured leather from Germany

Three things are particularly important to the responsible entrepreneur in manufacturing: "We produce at our site in Germany. We produce as environmentally friendly as possible. And: We take our social responsibility very seriously."

Heinen's quality starts with the raw material, with hides exclusively from Europe. Certified chemicals from European suppliers are used in the tanning process. The hides are processed under the strictest control to ensure compliance with environmental and social standards, and production takes place under safe and controlled conditions in Germany.

The result is the highest quality leather with thicknesses between 1.3 and 3.0 millimeters. Leather of the highest level of quality, perfect for functional shoes. 

Terracare® also includes the atmospheric CO2 impact of the leather produced per item and per square meter. This enables the consumer to make a conscious decision in favor of leather produced in an ecologically optimal way. Leather as it should be: produced in an environmentally friendly way, 100% transparent raw material origin, 100% clean auxiliary materials, at least 97% recycling/reuse at least 40% less water consumption and at least 30% less CO2 emissions during production.

The second major HAIX supplier for leather, the Croatian family business Viviani, is also committed to these high HAIX standards in leather production: Top-maintained production facilities, the use of geothermal and solar energy, biological and chemical wastewater treatment, which even allow connected greenhouses to be irrigated with the "wastewater" from the tannery. It goes without saying that high social standards for the employees are also a matter of course for the production company. “We expect standards like these from our suppliers right down 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 leather hide ensures continuous transparency. Through them, its origin can be traced from the grazing cattle to the shoebox.

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