Interview with Peter Hahn

PETER HAHN, one of Germany’s leading cashmere retailers, has been the first retail partner of The Good Cashmere Standard. We had the chance to interview Heike Hillebrecht, Head of Buying at PETER HAHN, and get an exclusive insight into their business. For more than 20 years Mrs. Hillebrecht has been focusing on cashmere – every year she travels to Inner Mongolia to get an on-site impression of the local cashmere production.

What is the significance of cashmere wool for your company?

PETER HAHN has been working with natural fibres for a long time. Since 1964, when we established our company and reputation with our exclusive llama hair coats, we have remained true to our love for durable and valuable materials. As one of nature’s finest and choicest fibres, cashmere therefore represents an important resource for our collection.
Quality is our priority. Enforcing the strictest standards throughout the entire manufacturing process, from raw material to final product, enables us to offer our clients premium cashmere. We are campaigning for the protection of animals and the environment and have always made a point of complying with social standards. We are therefore very proud to have partnered with The Good Cashmere Standard from the very beginning, helping develop it through our many years of expertise in cashmere.

What led you to partner with the Aid by Trade Foundation, which administers The Good Cashmere Standard, and to use certified sustainable cashmere in your products?

PETER HAHN has been running a fully transparent cashmere supply chain for many years. Transparency is a good and important step — but only the first. And none of the existing standards comprehensively guaranteed animal protection.

Heike Hillebrecht, Head of Buying at PETER HAHN, during one of her frequent visits to Inner Mongolia

With The Good Cashmere Standard, we have now gained a reliable standard that ensures the wellbeing of cashmere goats as well as the consideration of social and environmental criteria in cashmere production.
The experience of the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF) in developing a standard for sustainable cotton and the involvement of internationally recognised animal-protection expert Anna Heaton convinced us to become part of The Good Cashmere Standard.
When AbTF asked us to help develop the standard by incorporating our many years of expertise, we immediately said yes. We are proud to be a partner of the Good Cashmere Standard by the AbTF from the very start. Since our initial discussion in April 2019, when the first draft of the standard was presented to us, we have remained in close communication, visiting suppliers together and informing them about our new project: producing sustainable cashmere.
The standard also lets our customers know that PETER HAHN cashmere is produced in accordance with sustainable criteria.

What are you hoping to achieve through your collaboration with the foundation?

Based on our conviction that collaborations can make a great difference, we are working with recognised institutions such as amfori BSCI to monitor and improve social standards in the supply chain and with AbTF to procure standardised, sustainable cashmere.

We are pleased that other companies have already joined the standard and would welcome additional partners to this network. If the demand for sustainable cashmere rises, the supply will rise as well, and we will be able to achieve more for animal welfare, environmental protection, and sustainable cashmere production.

Why did you choose the Good Cashmere Standard in particular?

We have been advocating for the introduction of a sustainable cashmere standard for many years.
The Good Cashmere Standard lays out a clear and comprehensive set of criteria that govern all aspects of sustainable cashmere production. Besides, it’s the only standard which exists in Inner Mongalia, from where we obtain our premium cashmere. And the first one which is certified.
The active involvement of animal-protection and environmental organisations is another key point in favour of the standard. We look forward to offering our clients the first products labelled with The Good Cashmere Standard in winter/spring 2020/2021.

What do consumers gain from the collaboration?

PETER HAHN has been running a fully transparent cashmere supply chain. The new standard is proof that our premium cashmere wool has been obtained by protecting animal welfare and the environment. Our collaboration with AbTF allows us to let our customers know for certain, directly on the product, that the same high quality of cashmere wool was obtained in compliance with animal welfare criteria.

How can your customers recognise products containing certified sustainable cashmere?

The clothing made of certified cashmere is labelled in accordance.
We are currently evaluating various labelling options, for example adding a sewn-in label or inserting a notice into our cashmere booklet, which is attached directly to the product.

The relevant information about our cashmere products will also be included in our catalogues, online shop, and social media channels. Further measures are being planned and evaluated.

About Peter Hahn

Since 1964, when founders Margrit and Peter Hahn began selling jackets, coats, and blankets made of exotic llama wool, the fashion company has grown to enjoy international success, now operating throughout Europe with over 1,000 employees.
PETER HAHN is active in a total of ten European sales markets. Positioned as a multi-channel distributor, the company successfully serves customers through its catalogue, online shop, and 21 PETER HAHN branches in Germany and Switzerland.
More information can be found here: www.peterhahn.de/magazin/peter-hahn-kaschmir (in German)

Header image: © Erdos Cashmere Group