SEATTLE – Each day through its stores, website and app, REI Co-op offers customers the best outdoor gear and apparel from thousands of established and up-and-coming outdoor brands. This week, REI presented its 2023 Vendor Partner of the Year awards to brands that help make a significant impact, inspire and enable a life outside for everyone.
REI Vendor Partner of the Year overall award recipient
This year, footwear and apparel manufacturer On, with a US base in Portland, Oregon, received the co-op’s overall 2023 Vendor Partner of the Year award. By marrying style, comfort and functional performance, On continues to bring compelling, functional innovation to REI and attracts customers of all ages and backgrounds to running and hiking season after season. On is a values-driven company, leading the industry in sustainable footwear innovation and development. Through programs like Cleancloud technology, On captures carbon and ferments it, then turns it into EVA foam for midsoles. Through its Cyclon shoe program, shoes are made out of castor beans.
“Our vendors and their offerings play a vital role in keep REI relevant to the consumer and our members,” said Chris Speyer, REI senior vice president and chief merchandising officer. “It’s always a challenge to select one partner as our vendor of the year, but for 2023 On stood out for being one of the fastest growing brands in footwear, and its commitment to empowering more people to get outside to run and hike. Most importantly, we’re excited about On’s continued enthusiasm to bring industry-disrupting innovation and sustainability efforts to our customers all while continuing to be collaborative and agile through variable market conditions.”
REI Vendor Partner of the Year divisional award recipients
- Footwear and basics: Danner (based in Portland, Oregon), celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2022, and is known for its long-time brand identity of independence, and “find your own path” mantra. Danner continues to offer REI’s customers specialty, quality, and innovative products that stand the test of time. Even with long-lasting quality, Danner is exceptional at keeping its brand fresh and bringing new designs to customers while executing leading sustainability efforts such as its Recrafting Program, that encourages customers to send their boots in for resoling and refurbishing.
- Camp: Exped (with a US base in Tacoma, Washington), is a values-driven company known for high-quality materials and construction to ensure a comfortable sleep outside. For decades, Exped has worked closely with REI, putting the customer first, and expanding their lines where customers need it most. In addition, Exped is committed to reducing its environmental impact using recycled materials and improving their manufacturing process across development.
- Action sports: Quality Bicycle Products (QBP, headquartered in Bloomington, Minnesota) has a long history focused on inspiring and enhancing the overall bicycling experience. Across its broad portfolio of brands that REI carries, including Salsa bicycles, 45NRTH cold weather gear, and Teravail tires, QBP brings innovation and accessibility to make it easier for customers to keep their bikes geared-up and ready for new adventures. As a certified B Corporation, QBP is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion, sustainability, community and its vision of “Every Butt on a Bike.”
- Apparel: Smartwool (headquartered in Denver, Colorado) is known as an industry leader for quality merino wool products, delivering timeless, durable apparel designs keeping people comfortable in the outdoors. Smartwool, an overall REI Vendor Partner of the Year award winner in 2018, and nine-time divisional award winner, continues to innovate, bringing inclusive designs and leading sustainability efforts in the outdoor and merino wool industry. From a partnership perspective, Smartwool continues to look to REI to launch exclusive product collections and is a pioneer in wool sustainability, reinforced by initiatives like their ‘Second Cut’ circular and recycled sock program that were supported in REI stores this spring. All this, while being a critical partner for long-term sustainable growth.
The Vendor Partner of the Year awards program was established by REI in 1993. Each year, companies are nominated by the co-op’s four merchandising divisions – action sports, camp, apparel, and footwear and basics – for partnering with REI to meet customer needs, raise the bar for product quality and drive sustainable business practices.
For the first time, REI will donate $500 on behalf of each divisional category winner, and $1,000 on behalf of the overall vendor partner of the year to the REI Cooperative Action Fund. The Fund is a 501(c)(3) public charity launched in 2021 by REI Co-op to create a more equitable outdoors by bringing together the collective strength of the co-op community.
The Fund aims to inspire millions of REI members, thousands of REI employees, and hundreds of nonprofit partners and community leaders to support organizations that are improving the well-being of all people through time outside. With ongoing support from REI, 100% of donations from the general public to the Fund go to the people and organizations leading this work in communities across the country.
About the REI Co-op
REI is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. The nation’s largest consumer co-op, REI is a growing community of 23 million members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips, and outstanding customer service. REI has 181 locations in 42 states and the District of Columbia. If you can’t visit a store, you can shop at REI.com, REI Outlet or the REI shopping app. REI isn’t just about gear. Adventurers can take the trip of a lifetime with REI’s active adventure travel company that runs more than 100 itineraries across the country. In many communities where REI has a presence, professionally trained instructors share their expertise by hosting beginner-to advanced-level classes and workshops about a wide range of activities. To build on the infrastructure that makes life outside possible, REI invests millions annually in hundreds of local and national nonprofits that create access to—and steward—the outdoor places that inspire us all.
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