We are building AUAU Athletics on three core values: Functional Design, Inclusivity and Sustainability.
All three are big words. Today we are taking a closer look at Sustainability (FI: "kestävä kehitys"), our definition of sustainability, how this core value affects us as a sports brand and the choices we make when sourcing materials.
If you ask ChatGPT for a definition of "Sustainability" you receive the following answer:“Sustainability refers to the ability of a system or process to be maintained over a long period of time, without depleting natural resources, causing significant harm to the environment, or compromising the well-being of future generations. It involves balancing economic, environmental, and social factors to ensure that the needs of the present are met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainability is often associated with the concept of sustainable development, which seeks to promote economic growth and social well-being in ways that do not harm the environment or deplete natural resources.”
When brands speak of sustainable or green fashion, this can mean so many different concepts that it can be hard to understand and keep track of them all. It can be challenging to differentiate between deceptive greenwashing corporations and true eco-heroes. The hard truth is that every single purchasable product can potentially become trash. If you are not purchasing second-hand, resources and energy has been used to produce the product.
For this reason, we must question the environmental impact of our products, no matter their state. May they be brand-new, loved, broken or discharged products. These questions start while sourcing materials.
During our material research and sourcing process, we have defined 4 AUAU Athletics must-have standards and attributes.
#1 Eco-friendly Material suitable for Team, Contact and Combat Sports
What does eco-friendly material manufacturing mean? Materials that call themselves eco-friendly can do so for various reasons. They can be made of natural and regenerative materials, for instance. Eco-friendly fabrics can also be made from recycled materials. Each manufacturing method has its pros and cons. We have opted to work with recycled nylons and polyesters.
The pros of recycled nylons and polyesters are that they are highly suitable for our purpose, which is their use in sports that tend to be a bit rougher. Our materials must have a high resistance to pilling and be suitable for use in team sports, contact- and combat sports. Our materials are used in athletic activities, which may cause material abrasion due to the nature of the individual games and competitions. Our materials must be tested for these types of use. Additionally, recycled nylons and polyesters help clear out the oceans and reduce some of the plastic waste humanity has created.
The con of these materials is that they - like all other materials made from synthetic fibre, release microplastics into the water when they are washed. But there is a solution to this problem.
GUPPYFRIEND® has developed a washing bag for your clothes made from synthetic fibres. The bag reduces and catches the shed fabrics, and prevents microplastics from entering the water systems. Another benefit of washing your clothing in a GUPPYFRIEND® bag is that your garments are protected, increasing longevity. This brings us to our second material must-have attribute.
#2 Material and Product Longevity
When speaking of sustainability, one major aspect is often overlooked: longevity. This is especially important for materials such as impact foam, which cannot be made from sustainable materials. All impact foams currently available on the market are made from new (vs recycled) synthetic materials. The difference between the various options is their longevity. Some foams on the market start breaking down the moment they are put to use.
The impact foam we work with is unrivalled in quality and functionality. It has open-cell technology and the withstand repeated impact. The material is also antimicrobial and can withstand a certain amount of sweat and funk. These attributes decrease the necessity of replacement purchases due to stinky, broken down and nonfunctional impact protection. In short: AUAU Athletics' impact protection will last you longer compared to impact protection made from inferior materials.
We have conducted durability tests to see how well the combined impact material and fabric perform. The durability tests were so convincing that we can offer a 6-month warranty for each product from our impact protection collection, which holds if the item is treated according to the care instructions.
#3 Material Effectiveness and Skin-Safety
Our third must-have standard addresses two aspects barely broached when speaking of sustainability: quality and comfort. You know what we are talking about if you have opted to purchase a product in the past and chose it due to it being more affordable, only to replace it shortly after with a less affordable product. A more sustainable solution is to only buy once.
Our impact material is very soft, non-bulky and comfortable to wear while having the ability to absorb 90% of impact energy, reducing pressure and shock. It works for the intended use while guaranteeing absolute freedom of movement. We know, and the customers of STEAKS® Contact Wear know, as we have been using the same material since 2014.
Our fabrics are soft, stretchable and comfortable while guaranteeing skin safety, as they are certified with the OEKO-TEX® Standard 100. This means that the fabric has been independently tested for harmful substances and is harmless to human health.
These attributes allow us to produce impact protection that you will want to wear. Impact protection, you can feel safe and comfortable in, on more levels than just one.
#4 Material Production Location
While some of you might have been working on reducing your carbon footprint, you might have never second-guessed the carbon footprint of products and their components. Hard fact: some products can carry an eco-label even though their components have racked up extensive mileage before arriving at your doorstep.
We have seen many intelligent, sustainable innovations from all over the world. However, when sourcing our materials, we decided to stay close to home. We source close to our production site within Europe to decrease transportation distances and unnecessary carbon emissions. All materials we currently use are sourced from Italy. This means they do not travel too far before arriving at our production site in Portugal.
So…what DOES sustainability mean?
As you might have guessed by now, sustainability is a huge and complex topic with more layers than one might expect. In our definition of sustainability, material attributes such as longevity and durability play a key role and go hand-in-hand with our timeless and functional designs and small-batch productions (topics for another day). We believe the wise, late Vivienne Westwood said it best: “Buy Less, Choose Well, Make it Last.”
We want our material choices to enable you to do just that and to consume critically. Sourcing recycled or high-performing and long-lasting materials from Europe is our solution for you.