Functional Urban Bags
Introducing the quattro messenger bag and quattro backpack from Audi: two products that are as suited to everyday use as they are to adventurous outdoor activities. The bags are made by the outdoor gear manufacturer VAUDE, based in Tettnang in southern Germany. We spoke to Antje von Dewitz, CEO of the family-run company, and Kristina Friesen and Manuela Reinwald from the Audi collection team about the outdoors mindset, Made in Germany production, and eco-friendly business practice.
Manuela, where does the quattro collection fit within the Audi collection as a whole?
Manuela Reinwald: “The Audi collection consists of four subcollections aimed at different groups. quattro is one of those subcollections. It’s aimed at a younger target group that lives in cities but also enjoys outdoor activities. The basic color palette for the collection is fairly conservative, with colors like gray, black, and white, but it’s livened up with vivid accent colors (like avocado green in these two bags). The products are also strikingly emblazoned with a big quattro logo.”
The backpack and messenger bag from VAUDE are new additions to the quattro collection. What was it about these products that impressed you?
Manuela: “First, their minimalist style, which is very on-trend at the moment. Second, their incredible functionality; they’re made with robust, waterproof materials that allow them to be used for many different applications. It was important for us to work with a strong brand. VAUDE is one of the biggest names in the outdoor segment. We’re proud of this partnership, which is why on both products the VAUDE logo appears alongside the quattro logo. What’s particularly impressive about VAUDE is the company’s clear stance and unrivaled eco credentials. Another factor that makes VAUDE a great fit for the Audi brand is that it produces the bags here in Germany.”
Antje, you produce the bags in the VAUDE factory in Tettnang, where your headquarters is based. What’s distinctive about the products made there?
Antje von Dewitz: “The bags produced in our factory, like the quattro bags, are made of very robust material with waterproof welded seams. For the welding process, you need not just a large, well-equipped factory, but also proven expertise – it’s “Made in Germany” at its best. The welding shop is the beating heart of our factory, which is responsible for the outstanding quality of our products.”
What sorts of everyday situations are the quattro messenger bag and quattro backpack designed for?
Kristina Friesen: “The quattro messenger bag is ideal for commuters, including people who cycle to work. The interior is organized perfectly, with a laptop compartment, a separate padded coffee cup holder, a small key pocket, and lots of other cleverly designed details. Meanwhile, the practical yet stylish quattro backpack is perfect for all sorts of different activities thanks to its large storage capacity. And with both bags, you don’t need to worry about getting caught in the rain. Your computer or groceries will stay dry, since the welded seams mean the bags are 100% waterproof.”
Look, feel, functionality: which aspect do you consider most important for VAUDE products, Antje?
Antje: “We’re an outdoor gear manufacturer, a mountain sports brand. Mountains are at the heart of what we do, and we prioritize functionality above all else. The main function of the messenger bag and backpack is to carry things around. They’ve been optimized for this function with large openings, practical compartments, adjustable straps, and the use of robust, waterproof material. The functionality is emphasized by the streamlined design, harmoniously coordinated colors, and stylish details.”
The quattro messenger bag and quattro backpack are perfect examples of the blurring line between outdoor and lifestyle products. In cities, “outdoors” has become a lifestyle trend. How do you think that came about?
Antje: “‘Outdoors’ has become a way of life, a mindset. For many people, nature acts as a counterbalance to urbanization and the stress of day-to-day life, which is why they seek out authentic experiences in unspoiled natural settings. It’s about freedom, enjoying life, maintaining balance. And they want to bring this same mindset to their day-to-day lives in the city too. On top of that, there’s also the fact that outdoor products are so incredibly functional and practical for everyday use. These two factors explain why outdoor products are so popular in cities. I think it’s a very welcome development: this outdoors mindset is fantastic, and it’s one that we share as a manufacturer of sustainable outdoor gear for everyday 21st-century life.”
What marks out the quattro backpack and quattro messenger bag as exceptionally sustainable?
Antje: “The bags have our Green Shape label, which designates environmentally friendly products made using sustainable materials. It’s awarded based on strict criteria that take account of the whole product lifecycle. The bags are PVC-free, carbon-neutral and built to last. The material is also coated with Eco Finish, an eco-friendly, PFC-free water repellent. Our headquarters and factory in Tettnang are carbon-neutral and EMAS-certified. One of our major goals is to minimize the footprint left by our operations and our products. We strive to reduce all emissions resulting from energy and transport and offset any that can’t be eliminated by supporting environmental projects. That’s how we achieve our ecological equilibrium.”
Kristina: “We were impressed by VAUDE’s firm principles, and by how seriously this modern family-run company takes its responsibility for people and planet. Their expertise and attitude are incredible. We attach great importance to sustainability in the products that we offer, and VAUDE already has a well-established reputation as a sustainable brand among many Audi customers.”
Antje, over the past ten years you’ve dedicated yourself to strengthening VAUDE’s commitment to sustainability.
Antje: “The initial years were really tough; we had to do our homework first. Textiles is a dirty industry that’s awash with pollutants and harmful substances. Getting our global supply chain completely clean, including all our certifications and production locations, is a huge, demanding task. But we’ve made a lot of progress and learned a great deal. Now we can increasingly be part of the solution instead of part of the problem. It’s also made us a lot more innovative: we’re moving away from petroleum and toward buckles and zippers made with castor-oil-based plastic, and toward jackets made with natural materials like cellulose fiber that don’t leave microplastic residues in the oceans. Although we’re a small player in the global textile industry, we have an international reputation as an eco-pioneer and are a sought-after research partner. Our eight-strong innovation team is involved in lots of research projects, some of them with partners from very different industries. We are always looking for natural materials that replicate the functionality outdoor enthusiasts are used to from synthetic, petroleum-based materials.”
Do customers appreciate this attitude? And are they also willing to pay more for sustainable products?
Antje: “Our economic system doesn’t exactly reward acting sustainably, which involves a lot more work and much higher costs. We are successful, but it’s a challenging path to follow, since our competitors haven’t changed. Worldwide studies have shown that consumers are aware that their purchasing habits contribute to global problems. They want to be able to buy things with a good conscience. In the outdoor segment, we’ve seen a marked growth in awareness of sustainability, and people are willing to pay more if they understand why it’s necessary – though the amount extra they’re willing to pay still falls short of the actual increase in costs. But we’re not letting that deter us. Sustainability demands perseverance.”
The tastes of Audi’s customers are just as varied as its cars. In order to cater to all interests, the Audi collection is divided into four subcollections. The Audi collection has stylishly designed products for all occasions. The products in the Audi Sport collection are aimed at Audi fans with sporty lifestyles. The heritage collection has 80s-style apparel and accessories for motorsport enthusiasts.
For 40 years, VAUDE has been manufacturing innovative, high-quality, and sustainable outdoor clothing and gear for mountain sports and cycling fans. The modern family business takes its responsibility for people and planet very seriously across all three of its divisions: Mountain Sports, Bike Sports, and Packs ’n Bags. Ever since 2001, VAUDE has operated in compliance with the strict environmental standard bluesign®, which takes account of the entire textile value chain. The company was also the first outdoor gear manufacturer to be EMAS-certified. In 2010, VAUDE launched the Green Shape label, which is awarded to functional, environmentally friendly products that have been manufactured ethically using sustainable materials. The stringent criteria cover the complete product lifecycle – from design and production through to product care, repair, and recycling. Since 2012, the company headquarters in Tettnang and all products manufactured there have been carbon-neutral. The company’s commitment to sustainability has been recognized by numerous awards. For instance, in 2015 VAUDE was named Germany’s Most Sustainable Brand by the judges of the National German Sustainability Award. VAUDE has enjoyed years of successful growth, proving that being eco-friendly and socially responsible can make good business sense too.
quattro backpack / quattro messenger bag
Made in Germany: the quattro backpack and quattro messenger bag are made at the VAUDE factory in Tettnang, south Germany, where the company’s headquarter is based. The factory is the main VAUDE production site, with a workforce of 49 employees from 19 countries.
Production of the backpack and messenger bag begins with die-cutting the individual parts and affixing pads and smaller elements. The parts are then seam-welded together into the final, waterproof form. Lastly, the lining, straps, buckles, and panels are variously sewn in, riveted on, and bordered, and then a final check is carried out.
A quattro backpack, made from 12 individual parts; production takes 30 minutes and involves 16 separate stages.
|Waterproof zipper on main compartment||Material: 100 % polyamide|
|Waterproof roll closure||Weight: 770 g|
|Front pocket with zipper||Volume: 27 l|
|Padded back||Dimensions: 50 x 38 x 24 cm|
|Blinking light holder||Made in Germany|
|Interior in accent color|
|quattro and VAUDE branding|
quattro messenger bag
A quattro messenger bag, made from 17 individual parts; production takes 28 minutes and involves 18 separate stages.
|Cleverly organized with multiple compartments||Material: 100 % polyamide|
|13,3" laptop compartment||Weight: 650 g|
Padded bottle holder
||Volume: 14 l|
|Adjustable lid||Dimensions: 34 x 37 x 16 cm|
|Front pocket with zipper||
Made in Germany
|Webbing shoulder strap|
Felt shoulder pad
Interior in accent color
|quattro and VAUDE branding|
Environmentally friendly, climate-neutral and sustainable production.
Both the quattro backpack and the quattro messenger bag are carbon-neutral, PVC-free, and PFC-free. Emissions resulting from the materials, manufacturing process, and shipping have been systematically reduced and fully offset. Both products are completely PVC-free. PVC often contains plasticizers (phthalates), which have given rise to health concerns. In addition, both the backpack and messenger bag are coated with VAUDE Eco Finish, an eco-friendly, PFC-free water repellent. PFCs belong to a group of chemical compounds often used to impregnate outdoor products. They have come under criticism because they are not biodegradable and can build up in the body over time, leading to concerns that they may have adverse effects on health.
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