Illustration Susanne Gold/ Text by Paula Pröve
The textile start-up “VIDAR Sport” from Frankfurt by Christoph Behroz and Rouven Kneipp produces breathable, elastic, tear-resistant and durable sportswear – sustainably from eucalyptus wood.
Often heard, even more often read: The magic statement “made from recycled materials” currently appears almost always in connection with clothing. Even training clothes, which are mostly made of polyester, are sold as “sustainable”. For the young entrepreneurs Christoph Behroz and Rouven Kneipp, both active athletes, the predicate “recycled” was not good enough: they wanted to produce sports articles from truly sustainable materials.
Environmentally friendly materials are usually not designed for sport
Sportswear must be as breathable as possible. So far, polyester has been the perfect material for sports outfits. In terms of breathability, more ecological textiles like cotton, which are often worn in everyday life, are unfortunately still at a disadvantage. The problem with polyester fibres, however, is that every time it is washed, it releases microplastics into the waste water, which eventually end up in nature and cause massive harm to the environment, humans and animals. So what is the alternative?
Lyocell as a natural solution
When Behorz and Kneipp were sitting in a pub one evening after playing tennis, they came up with the idea of founding a sustainable sports brand in the first place. But right away they couldn’t think of any suitable material. After some research, they came up with Lyocell, a fabric made from wood fibres. It is obtained from natural eucalyptus wood, which is produced during forest thinning, but cannot be used for furniture or other purposes. Coming from sustainable forestry, the material is 100 per cent plastic-free, biodegradable and, of course, meets all the criteria for sportswear. Here, the two entrepreneurs work together with the “TENCEL™” brand. The natural fibre of the fabric has an odour-inhibiting effect when sweating, so that athletes can confidently sweat through the clothing, then let it dry and simply put it back on
Fair and sustainable production
Production takes place entirely in Portugal, where fair working conditions are always emphasised. Less water is used in the production of the products than in conventional sportswear or even in the production of organic cotton. The two founders have financed the company themselves right from the start without any sponsors. For the two founders, sustainability also includes environmental protection: in addition to reinvesting the profits for the further development of their brand, they already donate ten percent of their profits to organisations such as Cool Earth, an environmental protection project that aims to safeguard the survival of the rainforests
For these young entrepreneurs, one thing is clear: we use nature for sport, so we should in no way harm it, but rather protect it. We should be grateful that nature offers us the opportunity and inspiration for so many different sports.