If Margarete Steiff’s nephew, Richard Steiff, were to invent the Teddy bears again today, things would be very different. The inventor would have a whole different array of materials at his disposal as well as a completely different understanding of the environmental impact of these products. “For Children, only the best is good enough” – and so the designers and product developers at Steiff are committed to using alternative materials such as hemp and linen plush in production under the motto “Teddies for tomorrow”.
It is his deep midnight blue coat that gives the After Midnight Paper Teddy bear his mysterious aura. He is made of paper plush, which was developed by Paul Steiff and Reinhard Schulte back in 1919. Today, this is one of the vegan materials of the future: a yarn is produced from twisted paper strips and woven carefully into a firm fabric. Furthermore he proudly wears his polished stainless steel chest tag with the original Company logo of 1897.
Stuffed with wood shavings, Linus Teddy bear looks at the world through gleaming wooden eyes, his copper chest tag with the original Company logo of 1897. As one of the “Teddies for tomorrow”, he sports an outfit made entirely of plant-based material. His russet coat of soft linen plush goes beautifully with its paws and soles, which are made from a high-grade vegan felt called Violan.
it’s hard to resist the subtle charms of Lavender rabbit. Her gleaming, soft plush made from soya bamboo viscose is matched with a tulle ruffle with golden dots woven in, while the recycled PET stuffing defines her elegant shape. Her expressive eyes are enhanced by a gold framed iris and airbrushed eyelids.
The fibre is very ecological because the plants don’t need a lot of water, are very resistant against pest, can be cultivated also in cooler regions and the crop is higher than one of (organic) cotton. Furthermore, hemp is hard-wearing, antibacterial and antistatic. With modern manufacturing techniques it can be treated like cotton fibres.
You can almost see it grow! Bamboo grows incredibly quickly, even without the help of fertiliser. It is an inexhaustible raw material and can be used for food, building materials, musical instruments, and much more. Bamboo can also be made into soft, fresh textiles and requires much less water than cotton.
In 1919, mohair was in short supply and so Steiff began making plush toys using paper for the first time. Strips of paper were painstakingly woven together and then made stable. We have rediscovered this craft. Today we use recycled paper and are thus able to guarantee long-term recycling – to create the most beautiful Steiff paper plush toys.
We are fascinated by the natural fibre that is linen. It has been around for more than 5,000 years, is hard-wearing and barely requires any water. Steiff Schulte in Duisburg has developed a method for turning hard linen yarn into soft linen plush. The result is a wonderful vegan material for Steiff toys.
Using recycled PET protects the environment three times over. First, the plastic doesn't end up in the sea. Secondly, it saves using new material. And thirdly, recycling uses less energy. That’s why Steiff “Teddies for tomorrow” feature PET plush fabric and PET stuffing. How good is that!
The quality feel of the plush products must be maintained, and the environmental footprint further improved. This is no mean feat and the jury is still out on the best alternative materials for plush products. But Steiff is actively addressing this topic, along with the help of suppliers such as Steiff Schulte, one of the last remaining weaving mills in Germany. The first “Teddies for tomorrow” products were released in 2020 and the line is being extended for collectors as well as children in 2021. “Teddies for tomorrow” means not settling for what has already been achieved; “Teddies for tomorrow” represents a long-term vision that is guaranteed to involve plenty of new discoveries for Steiff and its suppliers. Above all, “Teddies for tomorrow” is an expression of a responsible corporate policy, which is still going strong 140 years after the company was first founded.