Posted by Kayleigh on 30th Sep 2021
If you had been very quiet and listened closely at 6pm this evening you might have heard everyone in GTT breath a sigh of relief that the secret we’ve been hiding for months has finally been announced. Columbia has officially been added to the constantly expanding list of our favourite brands, and we can’t wait to share it with you!
Never heard of Columbia? Where have you been girl? We don't know about you but during lockdown we found a new appreciation and love for the world around us. How could we not when exploring with your family and finding new favourite spots became a welcome break from working from home, or when restrictions began to lift and "will we meet for a walk" became the new "will we meet up for a coffee?" This appreciation for our surroundings grew as we returned to work and normal life (well, a new normal) and so has our love for athleisure and outerwear. This is where Columbia comes in, designing and manufacturing innovative, tough clothing to help us enjoy and explore the outdoors as often as possible, and for as long as possible. But as we all know, Rome wasn't built in a day, and household brands like Columbia don't just gain popularity over night!
We found the story of this brand so inspiring, it was started in 1938 by Paul Lamfrom in Portland, Oregon, after he fled Germany with his wife Marie and their young daughter Gert (If you don’t know the name Gert Boyle then we would highly suggest learning it, what a power women!) and settled in Portland, and purchased the Rosenfeld Hat Company using money borrowed from a relative, going on to rename it as the Columbia Hat Company. This really signified a fresh start for the family but little did they know the brand would become a household name! In 1964 Paul passed away and Gert’s husband Neal Boyle inherited the company and quickly expanded into outerwear for fishing, hunting, and skiing and the name of the company was changed to Columbia Sportswear. In 1970 Neal passed away suddenly aged 47 leaving Gert the president of the company (power woman, remember? The woman’s most iconic phrase was “It’s perfect. Now make it better”) Throughout the 70’s Gert and her son Timothy continued to refocus the brand on outdoor clothing and away from formal workwear, in 1975 becoming the first brand to introduce waterproof Gore-Tex Parkas. In the 80’s Gert would begin to star in ads for the company and would test products regularly, continuing to propel the company’s growth to $18.8 million in sales in 1987, which would then grow to $353.5 by 1997. The company has continued to grow and expand since then, and is now a household name when it comes to innovative outerwear.
Columbia’s goal is simple, they just want customers to love, enjoy, and appreciate the outdoors as much as they do. So it’s no wonder that sustainability is such an important to their company! They work with UK National Parks by providing clothing to the staff that work so hard that protect, maintain, and preserve Britains landscapes, and also donate to a number of non-profits dedicated to helping the environment, such as The Ocean Foundation, The Conservation Alliance, and Leave No Trace. As well as this, they have embedded sustainability into the manufacturing of their own products, as they employ a team to assess the environmental impacts of their manufacturing process using theHigg Index Facility Environmental Module. Their awareness of the environment doesn’t stop here, they also have strict guidelines when it comes to packaging and shipping their products, such as container loading and optimization standards.
One of our favourite things about this brand is their commitment to the outdoors, and ensuring that people around the world have the chance to enjoy their surroundings. They do this by partnering with communities and organizations around the world, donating often to non-profit organisations and disaster relief following hurricanes and natural disasters. And the most important part, 75% of the brand’s workforce is made up by women, who Columbia has empowered by partnering with HERproject to provide training for their female employees in women’s health, financial literacy, and gender equality.
Columbia are also very focused on the wellbeing and treatment of their workers, with standard practice guidelines outlining standards in areas such as forced labour, child labour, nondiscrimination, compensation, hours of work, and health and safety to ensure that workers are treated fairly throughout their employment.