Sustainable TreeCaps from Europe - much easier said than done!

A sustainable TreeCap, made in Europe. For a long time, this was high on our list of aspired goals. From now on, our TreeCaps will be manufactured exclusively in Europe. A goal we have been striving for for a long time has finally been achieved, but it has been an incredibly long and nerve-racking road to get here. Learn more about the lengthy development of the new European-made TreeCaps.

A sustainable TreeCap, made in Europe. For a long time, this was high on our list of aspired goals. From now on, our TreeCaps will be manufactured exclusively in Europe. A goal we have been striving for for a long time has finally been achieved, but it has been an incredibly long and nerve-racking road to get here. Learn more about the lengthy development of the new European-made TreeCaps.


Summer has definitely arrived - and when it's hot, it's important to protect yourself while sunbathing. The new TreeCaps are the perfect remedy and keep your head from overheating. And what's more, for every TreeCap, a Tree is planted in a needy place in the world.

We are very proud to now also produce our TreeCaps in Europe. The cotton used is BCI (Better Cotton Initiative) certified and the design was completely created in Switzerland. We were convinced of the quality and production on site in Bulgaria and are therefore looking forward to a successful cooperation with our new European partner.

The first series of TreeCaps

The first series of our TreeCaps was one of the last of our products to be produced in Asia. Via a middleman from Austria who sewed the NIKIN labels onto the raw caps, the caps finally reached us in Lenzburg and from there all over Europe. We had a first series produced and tested their popularity with our customers. The TreeCaps, whether snapback or 5-panel, were an instant hit, with almost more TreeCaps ordered in summer than Treeanies in winter.

Our criteria were clear from the start

It was clear to us from the beginning that if the TreeCaps were well received, we would strive for sustainable and fair production in Europe as soon as possible. next we also wanted to implement our own designs and cuts for the caps. This means that we no longer have our logo sewn onto a raw standard cap, but that the design with cut and dimensions is completely determined by us and we thus offer "our own" cap that stands out from conventional standard caps.

Design of the TreeCaps

The search began

"Unfortunately, the supplier I had in mind also produces in China. So I'm at the end of my tether. I even checked all our Turkish contacts, they know each other. But unfortunately without success..." - Excerpt from the email of a trader

We were shocked to discover that of the 60 or so "European" manufacturers and distributors we wrote to, around 99% do not produce in Europe at all, but in the Far East or America. Many of them even replied with the advice not to even try and give up the search for truly European manufacturers. One of our set criteria, European production, was already a first big hurdle.

This 1% had to be found

We persisted and hired a Swiss trading company to help us find it. After a few weeks and a lot of research, a glimmer of hope suddenly appeared: A Turkish producer (on European soil) was found. We were eager to be ready for the start of the upcoming cap season (spring/summer 2019) and since it was only summer 2018 at the time, we thought we still had enough time left to make the European-produced cap a reality.

Time began to run away from us

Of course we were relieved that we were finally able to find a European producer, even though this manufacturer had never produced caps before. This was not a problem, however, because he let other partners help him. It all sounded a bit suspicious, but since we were under a lot of time pressure and we really wanted to move forward, we took the risk and had samples produced according to our expectations for CHF 1000. At the time, we were told that it would take between two and four weeks for the first samples to be delivered. We communicated with next via the trading company, which gave the Turkish manufacturer our ideas from cut to embroidery. We heard nothing for a long time and became impatient.

"We have been waiting for the delivery of the samples for quite a long time now. There was once talk of 2-4 weeks for the first samples. But now it's been months. We actually wanted to start production in December 2018 so that we would be ready for spring. It's all getting pretty tight now."Excerpt from the email to the trading company

A setback, but we did not give up

In the meantime, in order not to lose any more time, we started looking for producers at next . At the same time, we asked the Austrian trader of our first cap series to help us. He apparently had contact to a producer in the Czech Republic who was also willing to produce some samples for us. At that time it was already autumn and time started to run faster and faster.

An unexpected glimmer of hope

Suddenly, we receive an e-mail from one of the manufacturers we had contacted earlier, who replied to our enquiry and claimed that they actually produce caps in Bulgaria.

"Thank you for your enquiry regarding snapback caps. We are familiar with this type of caps, but it will be difficult for us to offer a better quote than Asian manufacturers. But please give us more information regarding the quality, colours etc. so that we can specify our offer." - Excerpt from the translated mail of the Bulgarian manufacturer

Things are finally moving forward

A reputable and suitable manufacturer was finally found. But one hurdle was that he only worked with the conventional materials, polyester and acrylic. After a lot of back and forth, we were finally able to convince him to look for more sustainable materials. The material we were actually aiming for was certified organic cotton, but we had to compromise on that first. We were then able to agree together on a certified cotton (BetterCottonInitiative;, with the clear goal of switching to organic cotton soon, should the cooperation have a future.

We wanted to know exactly

A European producer who came pretty close to our ideas has now been found. But to be absolutely sure, we wanted to check and make sure that our caps were really European, because apparently there are many companies that sell "European" productions but actually make them in Asia. We asked the Bulgarian owner, George:

"Just to be sure, the production of these caps takes place in Bulgaria, right? Does your company have international certifications?" - Excerpt from the translated mail to George

"Production takes place in our factory in Bulgaria. We don't have international certification, but we are SMETA (Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit; certified to guarantee good and ethical practices." - Excerpt from George's translated response

next we requested an evidence video to show us the conditions in production, as well as any further information about this company.

Finally the samples appear with us

It took a few weeks again and just before Christmas we received samples from Turkey and the Czech Republic, although these overran the deadline by several months, and a sample from Bulgaria which arrived quite punctually.

We examined the different samples closely according to our criteria and noticed that our satisfaction with the first two samples was quite limited. The Turkish sample was not bad in quality, but it did not respond to our wishes at all and it turned out that its production did not even take place on European soil. The Czech cap did not look promising and was far from our expectations.

We were only satisfied with the Bulgarian producer, with whom we noticed that he really tried to get a good sample.

Our further decisions

Before placing a bulk order, we decided to request another sample from all three producers, giving them as much detail as possible about our improvements.

Design adjustments

Many of the samples were far from what we had in mind and so further adjustments had to be made.

The time passed next rapidly and became increasingly scarce. We had announced the release of the European TreeCaps for spring 2019 and since all three producers reported further delays, we had to decide on one of the three producers before the requested samples arrived. After weighing up all the factors, we decided on the Bulgarian producer. A release in spring was already very close, but as we were now focusing on only one producer, it sped up the process.

"Thank you very much for choosing our company. We agree that there will be some adjustment to the samples and we are waiting for the details from you. This morning I requested the colour samples from the factory, mid-week we will have a deadline to receive them. In response to your question about a weekly shipment, I confirm that this is doable. Once I have the price for the thicker fabric, I will send you our final quote. I hope to have the price before the end of the week." - Excerpt from George's translated response to our commitment

He was of course happy that we chose him and from then on we started to build a good partnership, further adjustments were made to the cap and the material still has room for improvement, but it is already much better than before. We can be very proud to be possibly one of the only brands that manufactures its caps in Europe.

A long and nerve-wracking journey with a happy ending

The road to this point was hard and, as we were disappointed again and again, often depressing. But we did not give up and always believed: a cap produced in Europe must be possible! We made it, even though the European production costs us much more than it would cost us in Asia, from now on we offer our completely self-designed and European-produced cap, made of sustainable materials and at a fair and yet affordable price.

Visit to the TreeCap production in Bulgaria

After the long but successful search for a suitable European producer of our TreeCaps, we also wanted to get an on-site impression of the production in Northwest Bulgaria. The owner, George, took us through his facilities, demonstrated every single production step and left a really great impression. We are looking forward to a successful cooperation with our new European partner. Watch our visit in the video!

Visit to Bulgaria

The visit to Bulgaria was a great success!

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