With the crisis in Ukraine following Russia’s invasion worsening with each passing day, leading organisations in the outdoor industry are offering their support and imploring others to follow suit.
The European Outdoor Group (EOG) recently issued a statement highlighting the important role outdoor brands can play. “Our industry specialises in the design, manufacture, and production of kit that can help people in the harshest conditions, and we can step up now to provide assistance,” said Dan Thompson, the organisation’s Head of Communications. “This is not a marketing opportunity, it’s a call to action.”
The EOG team are working alongside the Polish Outdoor Group, the Scandinavian Outdoor Group, and global footwear company KEEN to provide financial and material support to those who have fled Ukraine. KEEN has teamed up with distributors in Poland and the Czeck Republic (MM Sport and Outdoor Concept) to deliver footwear and other essentials to refugees at the Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary border.
In total, KEEN has committed €50,000 in cash and products to aid those affected by the conflict. They’ve supported Global Giving, and asked that other companies, groups, and individuals join them in donating to the Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund.
This Monday, the head of the UN’s refugee agency commented “”More than half a million people have fled Ukraine since Russia began its invasion last week […] some walked many miles through the night.” Hopefully, as other brands join KEEN in donating funds and equipment, this effort can supply those in need with warm clothes and footwear during this icy winter.
“The numbers, and the ensuing need, are expected to increase.” Concluded the UN speaker, hopeful that more corporate entities will join this effort, and urging the outdoor industry to use the resources at its disposal to support those who have been removed from their homes however we can.
Many smaller players have already taken up this call. Norwegian functional wool wear specialists Aclima are providing apparel designed for extreme conditions, while Reima are donating their activewear for kids. These and “several other members” of the Scandinavian Outdoor Group have been coordinating a response since the day after Russia launched their invasion according to David Nordblad, General Secretary for SOG. While many brands are quick to offer clothing, the primary obstacle is now safely and efficiently distributing said clothing.
“The motivation is huge – basically all our members want to contribute in some way. At the same time, it’s important that we respond properly and strategically”
At this point, some of the donated clothing and equipment is failing to reach its intended destination. The will of the people all across Europe is clear, but it isn’t matched by the infrastructure around the Ukrainian border. Fortunately, companies are stepping in to help. The most successful and coordinated effort so far is from Naturkompaniet, a Swedish outdoor retailer, who is working with small aid organisation, Filippus, and Swedish postal company, Postnord, to send truckloads of donations to the border.
While this effort has been a huge success, Filipus is already at maximum capacity for clothing donations. It seems the best option right now for key companies in the outdoor industry is to follow other large retailers – John Lewis has donated £100,000 – and provide financial support for organisations like British Red Cross and UNICEF who can boost the local infrastructure and ensure that no more warm clothes are left in the cold.
To learn more or get involved with KEEN and the collective Outdoor Groups, contact them here: