Sustainability at FALKE 2020

Released June 2020

Mission statement

Since 1895, the FALKE family business has been standing for modern legwear made from high-quality materials, finished with handcrafted perfection and an eye for detail. A deep understanding of yarns and manufacturing techniques handed down from generation to generation and continuously refined is the basis for all our products. This also includes functional underwear, sportswear and knitwear for women, men and children.

Customers who decide upon FALKE products not only trust in FALKE's promise of quality. They also make a conscious choice in favour of a manufacturer who has always given priority to acting in a socially and environmentally conscious manner. Instead of outsourcing our production, like many others in the fashion industry did, we continued to run our own production sites. 89% of our legwear articles are manufactured in our own factories in Germany, Italy, Serbia, Slovakia and South Africa.

As part of our philosophy, our international business processes and operations as well as the cooperation with external partners orientate on three action fields:

Product Quality – Social Responsibility – Environment Protection

The following report will provide you with detailed information about valid guidelines and ongoing activities that support these three action fields along our supply chain. Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information.

How we make our products

The FALKE GROUP produces legwear, underwear and apparel of the brands FALKE and Burlington. Furthermore, FALKE is licensee for ESPRIT legwear.
FALKE operates own facilities within Germany and Europe in which 89% of our legwear articles are produced. Since 1974, we also own an independent subsidiary in South Africa to supply to markets mainly in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and North America. Selected global suppliers supply yarn and fabrics for our in-house production. To compensate capacity constraints and to extend the range of technology FALKE also selected and developed strategic suppliers for finished goods within Europe and Asia.

Our drive and basic principles

Our business operations are determined by the action fields Product Quality, Social Responsibility and Environment Protection. Corresponding guidelines set the framework of thinking and acting for us and also for our suppliers. These guidelines base on internationally accepted standards as Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex®, the Amfori BSCI1 Code of Conduct and the ZDHC2 initiative.

Accordingly, before supplying goods to FALKE we request conformity to our guidelines from each supplier of material and finished goods.
Through our FALKE Buying Conditions and the FALKE Quality Guideline including RSL3 and MRSL4 our suppliers accept on following these guidelines and to supply the demanded goods in the quality we expect.

To verify the compliance to our requirements we assess our suppliers on a regular basis regarding working conditions, environment protection and chemical management. The audits focus on risk countries as classified by Amfori BSCI and are performed either by our specially trained employees or by independent external institutes. Based on the audit results we accompany the relevant suppliers closely to support them implementing our high standards.

Product Quality

We design and develop our products to be in line with the FALKE quality requirements. Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex® is the basis for the FALKE Quality Guideline which is provided to our material suppliers, our own production facilities as well as external manufacturers of finished goods. We assess quality along four categories:

Physical characteristics
  • Pilling
  • Abrasion
  • Change of colour shade
Using Characteristics
  • Shrinkage after washing according to care labelling
  • Visual appearance after washing
  • Lose thread ends
  • Colourfastness to washing
  • Colourfastness to heavy water
  • Colourfastness to rubbing
  • Colourfastness to sweat (alkaline and acid)
  • Colourfastness to saliva and perspiration
Prohibited substances
  • Conformity to Restricted Substances List (RSL)
  • Conformity to REACh

Meeting the FALKE Quality Guideline starts by purchasing material preferably holding an appropriate Oeko-Tex certificate. Regardless of whether a certificate is in place or not our own laboratory performs standard random incoming controls regarding the above-mentioned criteria on all materials before being processed in our facilities. The finished goods are tested during the subsequent product creation process. This applies to both, products from our own facilities and products sourced from external partners.

The tests performed in our laboratory cover the requirements of physical characteristics, using characteristics and colourfastness as figured above. Independent research and testing institutes verify compliance with the FALKE RSL, which sets the limits of certain substances that must not be exceeded in our products. The FALKE RSL considers relevant requirements of Oeko-Tex and REACh. Any exception from our guideline will be declared and results in root cause analyses with subsequent corrective actions.

Should there be any reason for complaint – we look forward to receiving your feedback for consideration in our product development and improvement process.

Social Responsibility

To be in line with our definition of social responsibility the conformity to the BSCI Code of Conduct along the supply chain is an essential part of our Buying Conditions. BSCI is an optional initiative for companies to support the improvement of working conditions along their supply chains. Specific institutes perform audits on a regular basis at participating companies around the world. FALKE is BSCI participant for years and performs audits in all own facilities in BSCI risk countries.

Independent of the availability of a valid BSCI audit we follow up the adherence to the intended social standards. Based on the supplier evaluation either our specially trained employees or independent external institutes visit the facilities on a regular basis. Assessments include but are not limited to monitor working conditions, fair wages and safety aspects. Based on audit results and development we provide close support to the factories to implement our high standards and to improve their BSCI rating. In addition to full audits FALKE continuously performs spot checks along the value chain during regular routine visits for status updates and progress monitoring.

Environment Protection

Environment Protection means to FALKE meeting nature with the biggest respect along the whole product creation process and supply chain. Right from the start, we develop our products under consideration of material origin and consequences of the required production process. We review our production and logistic processes continuously to reduce energy consumption, waste and rejects. We started to summarize our goals, activities and achievements regarding Environment Protection in the green box below. You will find updates of this box on a regular basis.

Animal Welfare
Beside prevention of pollution and carbon dioxide emission, animal welfare has been and is a matter of course for us. Wool is one of the most important raw materials we use in our products. Therefore, we have set animal protection as an essential principle in our FALKE Quality Guideline. Please find relevant guidelines and requirements for the individual kinds of wool below.

Material Compliance to following guideline
Sheep wool IWTO Guideline for sheep welfare and Mulesing free
Angora Certified by CaregoraTM

Mulesing is a painful treatment of sheeps to avoid infestation of special maggots. The FALKE Quality Guideline forbids the use of this method to grow wool. According to current planning figures5 compliance to our guidelines for animal welfare and requirements for the individual kinds of wool can be proved for more than 99,1% of the wool purchased in 2020. For < 0,9% of the wool we have no proof it has been won mulesing-free. In the meantime, new contracts have been concluded with our suppliers. Since April 2020, all guidelines and requirements for the purchase of wool are 100% fulfilled.

Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC)
In textile production the main concern is the exhaust of wastewater from chemical processes. These so called “wet processes” are used for dying as well as for treatment of materials to achieve certain functional or haptic product characteristics. We continuously work on innovative processes to reduce the usage of chemicals within our processes – no matter if this concerns our own or external factories. All chemicals used for the production of our products meet the statutory REACh standards of the European Union.

As a proof of conformance, we perform wastewater analyses on all our own factories with “wet processes” and request valid analyses from suppliers with wet processes. In case of non-conformance we agree on countermeasures. The analyses base on ZDHC criteria, a global initiative of fashion brands targeting to bring harmful substances within the manufacturing process to zero.

Goals, activities and achievements in Environment Protection

Plastic & Waste
  • The high quality of our products ensures long durability in the use phase - and with that, there is no need to dispose FALKE clothing after using it only a few times.
  • We started abandoning plastic from our packaging:
    • The common plastic hooks on FALKE Ergonomic Sport System products for hanging the goods at the point of sale have been replaced by an innovative paper solution. FALKE has the aim to replace the plastic hooks on all products and is currently testing new organic based materials.
    • Almost all socks ordered via the FALKE online shop are sent without additional plastic packaging – while most of the established online retailers demand plastic packaging.
  • Currently we are working on implementing recycled and recyclable packaging. FALKE Ergonomic Sport System will introduce a recycled paper quality in 2020.
CO2 & other Emission
  • We produce the majority of our products in Germany and Europe. We continuously strive to improve our logistic network to reduce transports of material and finished goods between our suppliers, our facilities and our customers.
  • Regular independent energy audits ensure that our energy concept and facilities meet state of the art requirements.
Hazardous Substances & Chemical Management
  • Necessary chemical treatment within the process underlies strict guidelines and tight controls. To track which substances are used in the process and what is released to nature we oblige our suppliers to provide wastewater and sludge analyses on a regular basis, alternatively to certify “Standard 100 by Oekotex”, class 1, annex 6. Of course, the same applies to our own facilities. The analyses are based on ZDHC requirements.
[1] Amfori Business Social Compliance Initiative
[2]  Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals
[3] Restricted Substances List (guideline for substances in the product)
[4] Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (guideline for substances used in the manufacturing process)
[5] Planning 2020 might change according to effects of COVID-19