We are in conversation with two young founders of CANO, Phillip and Lukas, who are producing the worlds most comfortable handcrafted shoes in Mexico and believe changing consumer shopping behavior will enable brands like CANO to succeed. 100% handmade and vegetable tanned these stylish huaraches are a summer must have!
Also if you are wondering what huaraches are they are a type of Mexican leather sandals originating from pre- Columbian time. Fun fact – Though many shoes claim to be huaraches, but they are traditionally only considered a huarache if they are handmade, and have a woven-leather form in the upper.
Tell us about your brand? What do you guys do?
With CANO, we want to create a brand that stands for ethically handcrafted huaraches. We have the vision to ensure a fair work environment, including fair salary and good working conditions for our artisans so that they can follow their craftsmanship and create outstanding huaraches. Our huaraches are a blend of the traditional weaving patterns and modern shoe designs to give our CANO shoes a unique twist. Everything of our shoes is ethically handmade and the leather we use is vegetable tanned to keep the environmental impact as low as possible. With this approach, we want to show that there are different ways to create fashion without relying on cheap labor and wasteful manufacturing.
What inspired you to start Cano?
During our time in Mexico, we loved to experience the lively and colorful culture. We got to know so many different traditions and habits, which all fascinated us. We especially enjoyed learning about the traditional Mexican craftsmanship, above all the one behind the huarache. A traditional shoe that has its origin in the Aztec culture and has been popular in Mexico ever since. We directly fell in love with the unique weaves and the great level of detail behind the shoe and even after we returned to Germany, we could not forget about the shoes. That was the moment, we decided to do something out of it.
What is your brand ethos?
Above all, we want to support our artisans, as they are the heart and the soul of our products. Without them and their input for new models and designs, CANO would not be where it is right now.
This idea of fairness, we also mirror on how we deal with our environment. Therefore, we decided to only use vegetable-tanned leather coming from wide-open ranches that are close to our artisans. Besides that, we strive for zero waste in our manufacturing process through following the old production process of the huaraches. As the leather strings can be cut out of almost every part of the hide, we can avoid significant amounts of leather rests, contrary to ordinary shoe manufacturing.
Why do you think Sustainability in fashion is essential?
Well, we only have one world. This is something we should remember when we make a choice that might impact the world and its resources. The fashion industry is gigantic. Hence, its impact on the world is enormous, too! Sourcing of materials, employing people or transportation are just some examples in which the fashion industry has a huge impact. And until now, the fashion industry has not understood this importance, unfortunately. Besides that, we are convinced that the focus on sustainability is nothing that limits a company’s potential. There are already so many great brands that do an amazing job in promoting sustainability and are very successful with it.
What are some of the challenges of being a sustainable brand?
As mentioned above, we think that a focus on sustainability can go hand-in-hand with your company’s success. But, of course, there are challenges that one has to face. Most obvious, these issues can be found in the manufacturing or sourcing and the higher expenses that might arise. With these higher expenses, of course, you cannot compete with brands that are built on cheap labor or on excessive use of the world’s resources. This is, however, not necessarily a problem, as we think. Customers start to rethink their shopping behavior. They start to question brands and what they do. Therefore, the biggest struggle deals with differentiating from less sustainable brands. You have to make sure that the customers understand and believe in your idea of fair and sustainable fashion.
What do you envision for your brand in the coming years?
With CANO, we want to support Mexican craftsmanship. Currently, we focus on the craftsmanship behind the huarache. But we think about extending this focus on other fields, in which Mexico also has a great tradition. These are, for example, coffee or leather bags. These projects are still in the planning phase, but why not?
Biggest milestone for the brand?
Currently, we want to grow our impact in the world and want to share our message with more people. To do so, we needed to ramp up our production. To finance this step, we are currently running our Kickstarter Campaign. Completing it successfully is our current milestone. Afterward, we will use the summer to meet more interesting people and to share our idea of fair fashion.
Which other sustainable brands do you think does a great job?
To be honest, there are numerous brands out there that also do an amazing job and naming just some is very tough. There are many different solutions that brands follow to be sustainable from recycling old clothes or waste, over developing new materials for clothes to fostering fair working conditions for their employees. For us, all approaches are inspiring but, of course, we love to see other brands that also support traditional craftsmanship and fair working conditions. Especially those that also focus on South and Central America. These are, for example, Bufandy (http://www.bufandy.com/) , Zazu Amsterdam (http://www.zazuamsterdam.nl/) or Salqapacha (https://salqapacha.com/).
What does sustainability mean to you?
Sustainability is a very trending word right now. It is often linked to consumer decisions. But for us, sustainability is much more. It is not only about what you buy, it is also about what you do with your waste, how you move around or what you eat.
In other words, it is a lifestyle.
Another important point for us is that sustainability not only focused on the use of the world’s resources but also on sustainable living together. Caring for each other and treating each other fairly is one major reason why we founded CANO.