hessnatur, Butzbach, Germany

hessnatur is a company in the clothing industry with a purpose and has been for over 40 years. hessnatur was founded in 1976 by Heinz and Dorothea Hess, who were looking for skin-friendly, chemical-free clothing for their newly born son. When they couldn’t find what they were looking for, they took matters into their own hands. The mission of hessnatur was and still is to offer clothing made of natural fibers. In doing so, it started out with a mail-order catalog model for baby fashion from its basement. Today, they offer clothing for the whole family and homestyle. hessnatur continues to demonstrate today that a triad of ecological production, economic added value and social responsibility can work in the textile industry – without having to do without – and has done so for over 40 years.  hessnatur strives to consume fewer resources than can grow back, to collect residual materials and to recycle them. High-quality production residues are mixed with new fibers and reused. The design of the clothing is classic and should give customers pleasure for a long time. 

hessnatur pursues a holistic approach to sustainability – the hessnatur quality guidelines are applied in all process steps in the production chain – from growing the fiber to sewing the garment. Even the raw materials that they purchase must meet high quality standards. The brand focuses on certified organic cotton. In order to avoid bottlenecks in procurement and maintain transparency in production, they have initiated and implemented cultivation projects for organic cotton in Africa, Asia and South America. In addition to cotton, hessnatur uses new wool, silk, cashmere, linen, kapok or hemp. In doing so, they make use of the properties of cotton, such as warming, air permeability and moisture absorption.  Information on the individual raw materials can be found on the company website. In 2005, they started a project to reintroduce flax cultivation for the production of linen in Germany. This was gradually abandoned due to the competition with cheap plastic clothing. The local cultivation should avoid long transport routes and emissions. hessnatur wants to act climate-neutrally and supports among other things forest cultivation projects. 

hessnatur describes in detail on its website which toxic chemicals are avoided in the production of the clothes/accessories throughout the different production steps. For most of us, this is certainly the first time to be confronted with this concrete information and you get an idea why hessnatur was founded back then. To be able to sell textiles in Germany, it is sufficient to provide information on the raw materials contained on the label and the country of manufacture. Customers are not informed about which toxic chemicals are used in production, especially in finishing. I can buy an organic T-shirt from a well-known fashion supplier, but it has been treated with chlorine substances in the finishing process, which is not good for the environment and for us humans, I don’t know. I have the feeling that hessnatur can be trusted that they do everything to eliminate toxic substances in the manufacturing process. These include chemicals that are carcinogenic, toxic to reproduction, mutagenic, allergenic, PBT substances and vPvB substances. Detailed information is available on the website. Particularly in the case of the GOTS-certified models from hessnatur, you can be absolutely certain that sustainable environmentally friendly and pollutant-free processing has taken place. hessnatur dispenses with many colors that cannot be used in a pollutant-free manner.

hessnatur offers clothing that is GOTS certified, among other things, and is a member of the Fair Wear Foundation, which is committed to fair working conditions in the fashion industry. Through the Fair Wear Foundation, a brand check is carried out and published annually.

hessnatur is politically active and supports the Alliance for Sustainable Textiles of the German Federal Government, the Fair Fashion Revolution, the Supply Chain Law in the clothing industry in Germany as well as the “Grüner Knopf” initiative. The social standards that hessnatur demands from its contract suppliers are free choice of job, no discrimination in the workplace, no exploitation through child labor, freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining.

Other initiatives that hessnatur supports promotion of young design talents who place sustainability at the center of their designs. As well as the establishment of a customer council – in other words, the participation of customers in the company’s development. In addition, the hessnatur foundation was established in 2015 to conduct and promote research and development in the field of applied sustainability.

As far as development is concerned, hessnatur has always moved forward. The switch to online sales followed as early as 1996. However, the company no longer belongs to the founders. In 1999 the company was bought by Neckermann and in 2012 it was sold to a Swiss investor.

The approach works. In 2019, Hess Natur-Textilien GmbH had a turnover of 71 million euros in Germany (Statista) and recently recorded a growth rate of 20%.


Photo credit by hessnatur