What is Outdoor Gientai?
Since 1975, Montbell has been a premier outdoor product maker rooted in the "Light & Fast®" and "Function is Beauty" design philosophy. As we have grown, our focus has shifted from being not just an international brand that produces quality clothing and equipment, but to one that does so while giving back to the global community.
With this priority shift in mind, Montbell founder and CEO, Isamu Tatsuno, established Montbell’s 7 missions of social and environmental responsibility. As a commitment to these missions, Tatsuno also created Outdoor Gientai, an organization dedicated to channeling the resources and know-how of the outdoor industry to assist in preparation and relief in times of disaster.
THE FOUNDING OF OUTDOOR GIENTAI
In the immediate aftermath of the 1995 Kobe earthquake that claimed more than 6,000 lives, Montbell initiated a rapid mobilization of people, materials, and equipment to support those that were affected. However, the scope and magnitude of the earthquake’s destruction was so great that CEO Tatsuno quickly realized that there was a limit to what one company could do. Driven to do more, he quickly committed to the formation of an independent and more comprehensive relief organization which called upon other companies within the outdoor industry to pool resources, in order to create a more effective assistance campaign. He dubbed this disaster relief effort “Outdoor Gientai”, meaning “outdoor relief group” in Japanese. The response to Tatsuno's calls for unified mobilization in the Kobe region were swift, with donations and volunteers coming in from all over Japan and abroad. Outdoor Gientai’s formation and actions were a success, proving that outdoor knowledge and experiences are applicable in times of disaster. Rather than disband the initiative after the clean-up and rebuilding activities were over, Tatsuno and others decided to preserve the organization. To this day, Outdoor Gientai continues to provide disaster relief in Japan and internationally, doing everything that it can with the resources available.
RESPONDING TO COVID-19
With the rise of COVID-19 infections in April 2020, staff from a hospital near Montbell’s corporate headquarters, approached the company and Outdoor Gientai, asking for help due to global supply shortages in basic medical supplies. In response, CEO Tatsuno himself began designing a medical gown at Montbell’s main office in Osaka, Japan. The gowns are made from Tyvek that was originally slated for use in the production of sleeping bag covers. Tyvek was chosen because it is lightweight, strong, and has excellent water resistance. The design allows the user to remove the medical gown without touching any possibly contaminated fabric. Taking inspiration from Tibetan garments, the gown features strings in key locations, allowing the gown to be removed by simply untying the strings. Five prototype gowns were developed and sent for testing by medical experts at Sumitomo Hospital in Osaka.
After receiving the hospital’s feedback, a final pattern was created, and 600 medical gowns will be produced at two Montbell sewing factories located in Japan. Since Tyvek is commonly used in the construction industry, efforts wee made to source additional Tyvek to make an additional 1,600 medical gowns.
In addition to these gowns, Montbell and Outdoor Gientai are importing 60,000 medical gowns to donate to medical institutions that are in need of supplies. Outdoor Gientai also maintains a stockpile of outdoor clothing and equipment ready for donating in the event of a disaster. It is currently coordinating with medical institutions to verify if its supply of 4,000 to 5,000 sets of rain jackets and pants can be used as a safe substitute for medical gowns in certain circumstances. A new face shield was also developed and we began donating face shields to medical institutions requesting them.
Outdoor Gientai started accepting donations on April 17th, to help those affected by coronavirus (COVID-19).
RESPONDING TO COVID-19 IN COLORADO, USA
With cooperation from the Japan America Society of Colorado, Outdoor Gientai donated 3,000 medical gowns and 3,000 face shields to the state of Colorado. Colorado allocated all of the medical gowns to Boulder County Public Health to be issued to medical centers in the area that had immediate need. The face shields were divided between Boulder Valley School District and Denver Public Schools.
RESPONDING TO COVID-19 IN OREGON, USA
100 medical gowns and 100 face shields were donated to the Mid Columbia Medical Center.
PAST AND CURRENT GIENTAI MOBILIZATIONS
2020 July: Kyushu Floods
2019: Typhoon Hagibis
2018: Japan Floods
2016: Kumamoto Earthquake
2015: Nepal Earthquake and Aftershock
2011: Great East Japan Earthquake
2007: The Chuetsu Offshore Earthquake
2005: Pakistan Earthquake
2004: The Chuetsu Earthquakes
1995: The Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake