Brands that make a Difference. #3 – Howies

by Ophelia Xerri

I’ve kept an eye on Howies for a long time and have always appreciated the effort they make to create something a little bit different. What’s more, they’re based just up the road in Carmarthen. I grabbed half an hour with managing director Ade to talk about the Howies approach to creating a sustainable brand.


Can you tell me about Howies ethos and production?

As brands our impact on the planet can be huge. We take money, we make profit, and a lot of brands do it without paying back. The idea of Howies is that we make clothing for the sports that we like; running, cycling, and the general outdoors and that we give something back while doing it. We want to be gentle on the planet, so we use factories and fabrics that have low impact. We make clothing that will last a long time and the construction of our products is of very high quality.


Was there anything in particular that inspired you as a brand (and that may inspire us)?

People are talking more about circular economy a lot more which is inspiring! Howies have removed PTFE/PET from our range this season. It would make sense for surfers to like that we are PTFE/PET free!

What is PFC PTFE?

It’s the stuff sprayed on outdoor jackets to stop the rain being absorbed. Nano particles of the PTFE/PET (plastics) wash off into rivers and end up in the sea. When you look into the effect of these micro-plastics on the environment, it becomes clear very quickly that it’s not good.

Green Peace are doing a lot for the awareness of fabric treatments like PFC and PTFA and they have been naming specific big brands telling them to change.

Thanks to Green Peace we are seeing alternative fabrics becoming more available to us, and so we’ve cleared our range for this season. By 2020 we should see a total ban of those treatments to fabrics.


Can you choose an outfit for a man and a lady, for a windy/cold January post surf?

We aren’t specifically a surf brand, but when you get out of the water you want to be warm and comfortable quickly. All of our outdoor clothing is designed to do just that.

  • Underneath – Marino Mid Layers, Base layers and Long Johns -prices varied

All naturally antibacterial and itch free. These are warm when the weather is cold post surf, cool when it’s hot. Made from 100% Merino wool and polyester microfibre.


  • On the legs- Cords!- £69.00

We have some amazing 100% organic cotton cords, no pesticides. And the added elastane gives them plenty of stretch. We have some fantastic colours as well – check out these in Tyrian colour for women!

howies 5


PTFE/PET free. Stretchy, fleece-lined softshell with a free waterproof membrane. Almost like a hoody, but wind and waterproof which is pretty cool!


Your website shows someone wearing it under a waterfall?!

Yes! We didn’t realise quite how good the jacket is at keeping water out until we stuck Amy under a waterfall!

howies 6.jpg

Do you have a particular favourite location to explore in the UK?

West Wales of course! Take your board west of Carmarthen, until you reach the coastline, it is very beautiful. Specific places to check out would be the Marloes Peninsula coastal walk, or The Blue Lagoon near St Davids.

There is also lots of trail running around, with challenging terrain. You can run all day and not see anybody….but you might see some seals, dolphins, porpoise and the odd sheep.


Finally, what are your hopes for you and other brands in 2017, and also any hopes for the world and us all as consumers?

We’ve tried to do be PTFE/PET free a number of years, so we are very excited about our newest range and love what we are making.

Unless you’re a gigantic outdoors brand, it’s very hard to affect the fabrics made and treatments applied in mills and factories.The brand Nikwax have been treading that path for years, and as lots of other small brands are looking that way. It can be a real push for the bigger brands.

Also, as consumers we vote with our purchase and that can make a huge impact on changing the economy. Big companies want to make money, and if they know they can make money by selling organic, recycled, low impact materials, they’ll do it!

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