The materials we use

The highest quality and free from harmful substances

LOWA always provides its customers with the highest quality, from the materials used to the finished footwear. LOWA views the high expect­ations it places on itself and its service as the guiding values for the high quality of its products.

We select only the highest-quality materials that meet all requirements related to the elim­ination of harmful substances. For this reason, LOWA uses a Restricted Substances List (RSL) for all products. The list is based on inter­na­tional criteria as well as the CADS-RSL.

The company pays partic­ularly close attention to the leather it uses. This natural product is the basis of many LOWA shoes and boots. The leather used by LOWA is from European cattle. LOWA works exclusively with European tanneries that practise a sustainable production philosophy. These include the following companies: Heinen in Wegberg (Germany), VIVIANI in Zagreb (Croatia), DANI in Arzignano (Italy) and DERCOSA in Cheste (Spain). All of the tanneries were carefully selected based on their company philo­sophies of ecological and socially responsible production, which align perfectly with LOWA’s own philosophy.

Aside from leather, LOWA also uses textile uppers and linings. Guidelines regarding quality, longevity and the elim­ination of harmful substances naturally apply to all materials used, including glue, dyes, laces and soles.

In line with its own self-imposed guidelines, LOWA does not use Merino wool from sheep that have undergone mulesing, down feathers, nano-tech­nology, anti­per­spirants, biocides or anti­fungal agents in any of its footwear.

  • Image photo with the INNOX PRO GTX MID Ws, ATS und Frauenshooting Benjamin Pfitscher

Vegan collection

The word “vegan” can be defined in various ways. When it comes to footwear, using uppers made of fabric instead of leather gets you halfway there. All products in our All-Terrain Sport collection, as well as some of our other models, are made without the use of leather and animal wool. Similarly, the glue we use is free of animal products and deriv­atives.

But the process used to demon­strate that no animal products are used in all components is fairly elaborate. It takes real detective work to determine whether the dyes, chemicals, enhancement substances, etc., are free of animal products. The main reason for this is that a very large number of indi­vidual pieces and components are used to make high-quality outdoor footwear. The INNOX model, for instance, has more than 150 components. It is nearly impossible to analyse all of these according to the criteria listed above. LOWA is also unable to make any credible statement regarding the very strict vegan criteria that require, among other things, that no animal exper­iments were conducted on the materials used in the boots and that all plant fibres were produced by certified organic farms.

Life Cycle Assessments

Over the next few years, we aim to reduce the envir­on­mental footprint of our products even further with the aid of Life Cycle Assessments. For example, this can be done through the increased use of sustainable materials, which we can then be correlated to the demands for durability, repair­ability and lifespan.

CADS RSL and elim­inating harmful substances

LOWA is one of the founding members of cads e.V., an asso­ciation of manu­fac­turers and suppliers that seeks to prevent the use of harmful substances in footwear. All member companies have volun­tarily committed them­selves to meeting the delib­erately stringent requirements of the CADS guideline entitled “Catalogue of restricted substances in shoes”..

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Cads e.V. sets itself the aim of formu­lating minimum requirements and promoting dialogue with NGOs with respect to critical substances. The CADS RS list was created in close coordination with the renowned inde­pendent testing and research institute Pirmasens e. V.

In addition to this Restricted Substances List, LOWA engages accredited external labor­atories to carry out regular spot checks on its materials, testing them for harmful substances. LOWA is thus able to ensure that it does not use leather tanned with chromium (VI) and that no toxic chromium (VI) has formed from non-toxic chromium (III) during storage.

Furthermore, LOWA permits only the use of materials that meet the requirements of the EU chemical regu­lation (EG) No. 1907/2006 (REACH). With respect to Article 33 of REACH, LOWA guar­antees that its products and their packaging do not contain any of the substances specified in the latest version of the candidate list in accordance with Article 59 (1).

PFC-free altern­atives

A current challenge that we and the entire industry are facing is the discon­tinuation of fluoro­chemicals in our products: specifically, the transition from conven­tional water-repellent materials and textiles to PFC-free altern­atives.

To ensure that all shoe materials and components are water-repellent and, in combination with the membrane, waterproof as well, the outdoor industry has tradi­tionally relied on the use of impreg­nations containing PFCs. PFC stands for poly­flu­or­inated chemicals, of which there are nearly 5,000 different types. We now know that some of these can accu­mulate in our envir­onment and damage our health.

This is why it is imperative that we end the use of PFC. At LOWA, this means that all components and their raw materials should be 100% free of PFCs. This also refers, in particular, to the chemicals used in production and after-treatment, e.g. to create water-repellent finishes.

Finding PFC-free altern­atives that are water-repellent at all, let alone as water-repellent as those containing PFC, is far from straight­forward in a field like ours. Our shoes and boots are made up of a variety of different materials and indi­vidual parts, and have to withstand high levels of physical strain (robustness, wear, longevity, insu­lation etc.)

Following extensive lab and field tests, we have been able to switch a portion of our materials to PFC-free altern­atives. The transition process for all relevant materials will be completed by the end of 2024 at the latest.