MBA Program

Bringing start-ups and fashion together

Worldwide movement Fashion Revolution hosts its second event with a focus on sustainable shoe protection.

The second Fashion Revolution Night on the Düsseldorf campus of WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management on November 6, focused on sustainable shoe production.

"Fashion Revolution" is a worldwide movement based on the quote "Buy less, choose well and make it last" by Vivienne Westwood. The central demand is greater transparency of the fashion brands and thus a higher awareness of all for the conditions under which our clothing is produced. Monika Hauck, Director of the Entrepreneurship Center at WHU, and Anja Gräf, Director of HSBC Alternative Investments, have brought the movement to the fashion city of Düsseldorf. "As a fashion metropolis and startup city, Düsseldorf is exactly the right place for this topic," explains Monika Hauck, adding "Many founders have recognized the need of the younger generation, who no longer only want to consume cheaply and a lot, but who are interested in who made their clothes and what they consist of. Young startups, in particular, have great ideas about how to change the industry and the courage to break new ground in fashion."

The two WHU alumni Philipp Mayer and Lukas Pünder demonstrated in their speech how entrepreneurship and the sustainable shoe industry go hand in hand. The two young entrepreneurs founded their startup "Cano" in November 2016 with which they sell sustainable and fair produced traditional Mexican leather shoes, so-called "Huaraches." "We do not want to harm the environment with what we do. We make sure that we don’t have any pollution," explained co-founder Lukas Pünder, adding, “We want to treat our employees fair, give them a fair wage and a good working environment.” To ensure that these principles are not just empty words, but are also visibly implemented for the customers, the two founders have also taken up another theme: Transparency. This is why they have developed the "ETHICK" application, which enables the customer to follow every single production and delivery step of the product, in the case of Cano the shoe, through an app. The two companies plan to make this technical solution for greater transparency in shoe production available to other companies as well. 

Afterward, Professor Dr. Marina-Elena Wachs gave insights into alternative materials in her speech on "The Future of Sustainable Materials - Hypes and Trends." Among other things, she showed, in addition to already established methods such as recycling, how textile-like materials can be produced from mushrooms, cork or oranges that can be used for shoe production. Andreas Tepest, Head of Quality Management at Deichmann, introduced "cads," a cooperation that has set itself the task of ensuring the quality of footwear and leather goods through defined standards, such as the regulation of pollutants in footwear and leather production. Angelika Firnrohr from Fashion Net Düsseldorf spoke about the deep connection between the fashion metropolis Düsseldorf and the fashion industry. During a concluding panel discussion Professor Dr. Marina-Elena Wachs, Lukas Pünder, Chanel Trapman (Mumster) and Andreas Tepest talked to Monika Hauck about "Changing Consumer Preferences and the Future of the Fashion Industry."