Meet Friedrich Baur - CEO at Baur Vliesstoffe - and find out how he invented lavalan®
Were you born with a passion for wool?
Yes definitively. My family has been dealing with wool for over 100 years. You could say I'm a wool man through and through. Our family business has been around since 1913, which means that I am in the fourth generation to work with wool. Even as a child, I accompanied my parents to wool collections. Wool is definitely in my DNA.
How did you come up with the idea for lavalan® - the first washable wool insulation?
We at Baur Vliesstoffe have been in the mattress business for a long time. About 15 years ago the demand for a washable wool fleece for the mattress industry increased. So we developed a fleece that met these requirements. As I am an active mountain biker and ski tourer myself, there has always been a desire to use wool with its great functions in outdoor products. So one thing led to another and we applied for a patent for our new washable wool fleece.
Did that pave the way to step into a new industry?
Yes - through the cooperation with the IWS / Woolmark, the outdoor industry became aware of us. We can offer our customers the complete wool story. Our wool is traceable. Who knows exactly where the fiber filling in their product comes from? That makes us unique - we know the way from the sheep farmer to the wool collection to the processing into the washable wool fleece.
What were the challenges leading up to the final product?
Of course, outdoor products have different product properties than mattresses. Manufacturing the insulation in light weights most suitable for garments was a challenge, as was the need for washability and processability. In addition, there are animal and environmental protection standards that are extremely important to us. We want to contribute to giving European wool back its value. For too long, wool was just a waste product that was used for fertilization or was often simply burned.
How did the manufacturers react to lavalan® in the first meetings?
Our first customer was Nicolas Rochat with his luxury brand Mover. He was an enthusiastic supporter who had been looking for a fleece made from natural raw materials that retains the unique and inherent natural properties of wool - its breathability, thermoregulating and odor neutralizing properties. In principle, I believe that we were ahead of our time. Gradually due to increased product awareness, more and more customers have included lavalan into their collections. Brands are paying particular attention to where their textile products and ingredients are sourced from. Attention is also being paid to how the fibers are procured and processed.
What is the attraction of working with such a traditional and yet progressive material?
It is fascinating which problems can be solved with wool. There are always ideas for new products and applications. From geotextile to snow and glacier cover to acoustic elements made of wool (WOOPIES). Together with our partner ALPINA, we have managed to use wool in helmets and protectors. We are very proud of this new application. We are currently working on a new lavalan product again, so it will remain exciting.