Why Kulson stands for european production

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WHY KULSON STANDS FOR EUROPEAN PRODUCTION

 

“EXPENSIVE IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER, BUT SUSTAINABLE TRULY IS”.

 

Every consumer should ask himself the question under which conditions the products he buys were manufactured. The price alone cannot always give an indication. Because it is a fallacy that expensive also means better! A higher price does not ensure that fair working conditions and environmental regulations prevail and are observed.

Stiftung Warentest has given a very vivid example: If products are produced very cheaply, for example a T-shirt for only 3 euros, then the seamstress can hardly earn anything from it. If you buy a T-shirt for ten or 30 euros, the more expensive T-shirt may have even been produced under worse conditions than the cheaper one.

This is not always transparent. Basically, a seamstress earns about one percent of what the consumer pays in the shop. Half of the price usually stays in the target country and only about 20 percent goes back to the country of production.

 

HEALTH-ENDANGERING CONDITIONS ARE A BIG PROBLEM

 

In the countries where shoes, but also other textile products, are commonly manufactured, miserable and health-endangering conditions are a big problem, especially in Asia. Because there are few guidelines and existing laws are not observed.

A low wage for workers is just one of many construction sites. Even with the legal minimum wage, it is not possible for workers to make a living from it. In China, for example, the minimum wage is only half of what a decent life would need, in Bangladesh even only a fifth. Low wages also lead to illegal overtime due to lack of money.

 

In addition, most factories do not provide safe working conditions, especially in tanneries. For example, animal hides soaked in chemicals are often used there without protection or appropriate safety measures. The handling of such toxic chemicals, chlorine or pesticides can lead to cancer and skin diseases, eye damage and a shorter life expectancy if used improperly.

 

Health problems do not only occur in tanneries, but also in the shoe factories themselves. These are mostly related to the handling of toxic adhesives, cuts and respiratory air contaminated by the toxins from tanned leather.

Therefore each kūlson sneaker is part of the kūlson Underwater Project and 3% of the gross purchase price goes to various environmental projects worldwide.

This often leads to back and vision problems. However, due to poor social welfare, there is no possibility of regular monitoring.

 

One of these organizations is 1% for the Planet. It is a global movement that inspires companies and individuals to support environmental solutions through annual membership and daily actions. The organization advises on the implementation of strategies, certifies donations and strengthens the network’s impact.

 

DON’T HARM THE PLANET WITH TOXINS

 

Apart from unfair working conditions, the use of pesticides, chlorine and toxic chemicals causes an enormous burden on the environment. Waste water is often untreated and discharged directly from the factory into the surrounding waters.

There are many stages in the production of textile and especially leather goods where the environment is heavily polluted. The cultivation of wool, for example, entails enormous water consumption and the use of pesticides, as the processing of fibres is also carried out with the help of mostly strong chemicals.

All in all, the improper use of chemicals also causes the ruthless disposal of those that are harmful to humans, animals and the environment. However, the conditions do not only affect the workers themselves, but also the people who live near such factories. In part, this deprives them of any livelihood, as they are no longer self-sufficient when land, air and water around them are poisoned.

 

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The topic of child labour is also still an issue. In China, for example, there are officially no more children working in textile production, but in Pakistan and Bangladesh this is still the norm.

Of course, this does not mean that you should no longer buy products from developing or emerging countries.

It also offers many people the opportunity to develop economically, earn money and thus achieve a higher standard of living. However, reasonable conditions must be created for the workers with regard to occupational safety, wages and the environment.

 

But one does not always have to look into the far distance. The textile and clothing sector is also an important part of the European economy. It is an industry that provides jobs for more than two million people. “Made in Europe’ basically stands for fair working conditions and quality.

But just like production in Asia, production in Europe is also under criticism. Research by the “Clean Clothes Campaign” and the “Change Your Shoes” initiative shows the reality in the European shoe industry. Starting with the tanneries in Italy to the factories in Central and Southern Europe.

Tens of thousands of workers produce Italian or German shoes there, sometimes at even lower wages than in China, for example! Incredible, isn’t it? Each of us has an average of eight to 13 pairs of shoes. In Europe shoes are particularly in demand, which is why Europe is also the world’s strongest importer of shoes.

In numerical terms, this means that 40% of the shoes produced worldwide are sold in Europe. Only 10% of the world’s population lives in Europe.

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CHOOSE FAIR CONDITIONS AND HIGH QUALITY

 

Asia is the largest shoe producer in the world. In 2014, China led the market with around 64%, followed closely by Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. The low production costs are of course the reason why the production volume abroad and especially in Asia is so extremely high. But in the area of high-priced leather shoes, the European share is considerable.

Fortunately, many consumers are becoming increasingly aware that they prefer sustainable goods produced under fair working conditions to cheaper and often harmful products, at least when they have a choice. This trend is not confined to textile and shoe production, but is fortunately also evident in a number of other sectors. Unfortunately, however, many companies still lack transparency and it is not clear to the customer under what conditions a product was manufactured.

 

Due to the sometimes fatal conditions in Asia, the minds behind the kulson brand knew from the very beginning that they wanted to have their fashion produced not in Asia but locally in Europe. After all, sustainability, transparency, fair working conditions and short transport routes are all important concerns to the founders.

They want the shoe to shine not only through its timeless design and craftsmanship, but also through ethically justifiable production conditions and an additionally launched project that supports the cleaning of the seas from plastic waste with every pair of kulson sneakers sold.

 

THE POWER OF COLLECTIVE INFLUENCE

 

The fashion label kulson is thus dedicated to manufacturing in Portugal close to the beautiful city of Porto. The leather and all other components of the shoe are European and the production site and the production site has been strictly selected according to the above-mentioned aspects and is subject to continuous strict controls.

It is important that the people’s awareness in this field is also increased and that products manufactured under fair conditions are purchased. This must not be limited to the textile and footwear industry, but it would at least be a start.

Just like the in-house Kulson Underwater Project, the same applies here: The power of collective influence should never be underestimated. The more people pay attention to buying only certain products, the more companies are forced to rethink their production chain and adapt to the needs of consumers. Until then, we need to go ahead as a good example and with a clear message.

Do your part.
biodiversity

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The Power of collective influence – Kulson’s Underwater Project

THE POWER OF COLLECTIVE INFLUENCE – KULSON’s UNDERWATER PROJECT

 

The threat to our Earth’s ecosystem is more topical than ever and the evidence is overwhelming: Climate change is ever-present, our food systems are under increasing pressure, and our soils, waters and species are threatened like never before.

Unfortunately, the global community is far from meeting this challenge and public funding of the environment is variable even in the best of times. So it is up to us to take responsibility for the planet and drive positive change.

The founders of kulson care about the environment and the issue of sustainability. That is why Benjamin and Jakob decided to launch the kulson Underwater Project when they founded the fashion brand.

 

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“CLEAN WHITE SNEAKERS FOR A CLEAN BLUE OCEAN” IS THE PHILOSOPHY.

 

The project is aimed at actively freeing the oceans of plastic waste as well as raising awareness for the plastic problem in the seas. Every year, new record quantities of micro- and macroplastics in the oceans are discovered during trials.
In this context, it is only a logical consequence that these plastic parts migrate up the food chain living creatures by living creatures and that we ultimately poison ourselves.

But the worst thing about it for the founders is not the fact that humans will sooner or later poison themselves, because we have at least ourselves to blame for this dilemma. The greatest injustice, in the eyes of the founders, is that millions and millions of sea dwellers and other animals perish from this plastic vortex. It is in many cases deadly for them, and they are not even a tiny bit to blame for this tragedy, as without us they probably would have never even experienced what plastic is at all.

Three hundred thousand dolphins and porpoises die every year because, among other things, they get caught in lost fishing nets, so called ghost nets, floating in the sea.

More than a million seabirds are killed yearly by marine pollution because they confuse plastic particles with food and as a consequence die miserably.

 

The WWF predicts that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the sea.

 

The founding team originally had the plan to start their own Ocean Cleaning initiatives and to remove garbage from non-tourist beaches in self-initiated collection campaigns. Thus, for every pair of shoes sold, a pound of plastic was to be collected from beaches and recycled.

During the project evaluation, however, the constant urge for the greatest possible efficiency, effectiveness and transparency led to the decision to initially provide financial support to external organizations who could tackle the plastic problem in the oceans more effectively than them with their own hands. For the founders it is about the greatest possible effect and the most effective assistance, not about an image film.

 

kulson wants to make a difference, so in the long run further and own Ocean Cleanup initiatives are planned.

 

In the initial phase of the project, however, it seemed more sensible to the brand to bundle the resources in the best possible way and to lead them to where the big screws can be turned until the company itself is in the position to do so.

Therefore each kūlson sneaker is part of the kūlson Underwater Project and 4% of our Sales goes to various environmental projects worldwide.

Additionally, a memory footbed made of recycled materials has been integrated into the shoe and material suppliers are chosen locally in Portugal. Every pair of kulson sneakers sold contributes to the fight against plastic in the ocean.

 

One of these organizations is 1% for the Planet. It is a global movement that inspires companies and individuals to support environmental solutions through annual membership and daily actions. The organization advises on the implementation of strategies, certifies donations and strengthens the network’s impact.

 

1% for the Planet was founded in 2002 by Yvon Chouinard (founder of Patagonia) and Craig Mathews (founder of Blue Ribbon Flies). The two successful entrepreneurs recognized the power of acting together to protect the environment.

They work with individuals and business people to identify environmental organizations that have the greatest impact and are consistent with their own goals. Upon request, it is confirmed that every dollar donated goes to an audited, trusted non-profit organization.

 

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The members of this organization have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on the environment, and the nonprofit partners are working hard to restore our planet for the future.

The foundation of the 1% for the Planet Network is the non-profit partnership of its members. Business and individual members work directly with recognized nonprofit partners or provide financial contributions, volunteering, in-kind contributions, and other collaborations of shared value. The network consists of more than 1,200 member companies, numerous individuals and thousands of non-profit partners in more than 40 countries.

kulson has opted for the element of water, because the ocean has a very special meaning and significance for them. If we want to preserve the ocean and its natural beauty, drastic measures must finally be taken.

In the past, it was assumed that due to the size of the ocean, the effects of the disposal of garbage and litter into the sea would be minimal. Since 71% of the earth is covered with water, people assumed that all pollutants would be sufficiently diluted and eliminated.

Until the 1970s, it was common practice to deliberately dispose chemicals and waste in the oceans. But as we now see, this belief has not proved right – quite the contrary. While the oceans have been suffering human consequences for centuries, the scale has accelerated rapidly in recent decades: Oil spills, toxic waste and tons over tons of plastic in the sea have become the norm. Whole floating islands consisting of rubbish and growing in size have formed in the sea.

In the Pacific Ocean, for example, there is an island of garbage twice as large as Texas. The North Pacific Gyre off the coast of California is the largest oceanic garbage dump in the world (Great Pacific garbage patch).

There, the number of floating plastic parts exceeds the entire marine life by six to one in the immediate vicinity.

Plastics are the greatest evil because they do not decompose easily and are often regarded as food by marine animals. As time goes by, the particles become smaller and smaller (microplastic) and thus penetrate deeper and deeper into our ecosystem, until they finally reach our plates.

Plastic deposits also have the ability to absorb other toxic chemicals from the sea. Animals that confuse plastic with food are poisoned on another level and carry this on. In fact, plastic pollution is one of the most serious threats to the ocean.

It is up to us to do something about it and everyone can contribute something to it.

Start to reconsider your plastic consumption, keep garbage away from the beaches and pick up the plastic straw or the bottle lid if you stumble over one again the next time barefoot on the beach.

Spread the message, get up and do something about the plastic problem in our seas.

They are unique.

 

biodiversity

 

KŪLSON – TIMELESS SNEAKERS WITHOUT COMPROMISES

KULSON – TIMELESS SNEAKERS WITHOUT COMPROMISES

In the Berlin fashion scene there is a new label that has launched its first exciting product on the market:

A white sneaker that combines timeless purism, fine leather and exceptional European craftsmanship.

Kulson is a young fashion label from Berlin, which has made it its business to bridge the gap between business and sports shoes while cooperating with organizations that protect our oceans in a sustainable manner.

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THE CREATIVE MINDS BEHIND THE IDEA

But who are the faces behind the new Berlin Sneaker Company kulson? Benjamin and Jakob have known each other since the nineties from their native Berlin. Originally, however, the two founders did not come from the fashion sector. Both have a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.

Benjamin then went to the Copenhagen Business School in Copenhagen for a Master’s in Innovation Management & Business Development, while Jakob completed his Master’s in Management and Technology (TUM-BWL) at the TU in Munich. But their fable for timeless design and clothing that doesn’t come off the peg got the whole idea rolling:

“I love good shoes, Jakob loves good shoes and we were both constantly surprised by the sometimes absurdly ugly fashion in the shops, most of which we probably didn’t even want to have for free. Also in the conversation with friends and acquaintances we noticed more and more often that there are actually hardly any sneakers left, which correspond to our personal taste and requirement, and we seemed to be absolutely not the only ones. What else could we do but develop our own sneaker?

Just like Jakob, I wear almost exclusively white sneakers, but the standard models, which we used over and over again due to a lack of alternatives, bored us with time. From now on no more compromises when it comes to shoes, because your feet carry you through life, right?

No matter if winter or summer, I feel most comfortable with this shoe. We simply wanted to create the perfect minimalist sneaker, that can be worn on almost any occasion and in combination with anything. Then Jakob and I sat down and started to think about what the ideal shoe would look like for us: minimalistic, unisex, casual but also elegant. That was important to us and that’s how we designed the kūlson sneaker,” says Benjamin.

PROTOTYPING ISN’T EASY – A LONG WAY TO THE FINISHED PRODUCT

By the time the current sales model was ready and the Berlin boys were satisfied, the prototype had been modified around 22 times and constantly perfected. During this time two more people and close friends came on board, Andreas and Patrick, because at the label kūlson all tasks except the ultimate production of the sneaker are done by themselves.

All in all, the pure development process took almost two years although the label was officially founded just this year, after Benjamin and Jakob were satisfied with their final product and it was clear that the sale could start.

SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTION IS BEST POSSIBLE IN EUROPE

While they had already dealt with management and marketing during their studies, they first had to find their way into design and production and learn a lot. They have dealt with different designs and production methods and locations. The shoe is influenced above all by Classic Scandinavian Design.

“It was clear to us from the very beginning that we did not want our shoe to be produced in Asia. Sustainability, transparency, fair working conditions and short transport distances are very important to both of us. Made in Germany is unfortunately not possible due to the high production costs, but this was not necessarily our goal, because there are countries in Europe that are much more experienced in the production of leather goods.

We then had to choose between Portugal and Italy. Benni and I often went surfing in Portugal. We know the country and the people and we love it there, so we decided to have it produced near Porto, after we had better informed ourselves locally and visited many manufactories – until we found our dream match,”, Jakob reports.

On site and after consultation between the manufacturer and the young entrepreneurs, this shoe was created with a lot of work and attention to detail – not made in Germany, but handmade in Portugal! The special thing about the shoe is that each pair is unique in a certain way due to the handicraft.

FINEST MATERIALS – FROM REGIONAL PRODUCTION

As already mentioned, the aspect of sustainability was also important for our production. Environmental awareness and the need for sustainability are now penetrating all areas of life. This refers not only to ecological aspects, but above all to the social conscience that motivates consumers and entrepreneurs to rethink.

For Benjamin and Jakob, this also includes fair working conditions, short trade routes, transparent corporate structures, resource-saving work and consistent recycling.

“There is no infinite supply of natural raw materials and it is up to our generation, especially in times of climate change and attempts to stop it, to make a contribution and to think about future generations.

The Ecological Footprint, which is seen as an indicator of sustainability, is also finding its way into the fashion industry, which is generally associated with fast-moving lifestyles. We want to keep our footprint in this world as green and small as possible,” says Benjamin about the production.

The leather comes from Italian cattle and the footbed – which is really incredibly comfortable – is made of recycled materials. The use of even more recycled raw materials is planned, but the kulson team will have to deal further with different techniques. “We are constantly evolving in this area and have a lot to do” , Jakob adds.

HIGH QUALITY RESOURCES FOR EXCLUSIVE FASHION

The sneaker thus follows the Slow Fashion trend. It is a shoe that has dedicated itself to the highest quality and is not simply a fashion shoe that ends up in the trash can after a season. The shoe has a high-quality finish and is robust, which means that it is also well thought-out on this level.

The kulson label is certainly positioned in the upper price segment and is therefore not a sneaker for everybody, but it should not be. The brand only places itself in selected boutiques far away from the masses and sells primarily via the label’s own online shop at www.kulson.de and so it should remain according to the founders also.

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THE KULSON UNDERWATER PROJECT

Due to the longevity of the product, the complex production as well as the cooperation with several non-profit enterprises, which made it their business to free the oceans from plastic waste and are financially supported with every pair of sneakers sold by the Berlin fashion label, the slightly higher purchase price is legitimized again. The customer enables the Clean Design Label kūlson to continue manufacturing the shoes locally under fair working conditions and to support the great love of the founders – our oceans, its inhabitants and the beaches of this world.

“At the end of the day, it is up to the customer to decide how sustainable a manufacturer can be. They can influence this positively through their purchasing behaviour. Every sustainably produced, purchased fashion item is a voice for more environmental awareness. If sustainability and fairness become real awards, then certainly more manufacturers are willing to change their production process, at least in part”, Jakob says about sustainability.

However, the Berlin-based designer duo is not only focusing on sustainability, but is also actively supporting the environment, as already mentioned. In 2013, the two already worked voluntarily in Kenya. For the Denver-based company Nokero, which stands for No Kerosene, Benjamin and Jakob in Nairobi and Mombasa have replaced kerosene lamps with solar lamps. This is why the Kūlson Underwater Project was launched at the same time as the fashion label was founded. The project aims to rid the oceans of plastic waste and abandoned fishing nets that can become deadly traps for fish, dolphins, whales, sea turtles, sharks and other sea creatures.

Each kūlson sneaker is part of the kūlson Underwater Project and 4% of the purchase price goes to various environmental projects. “I love the sea. It’s the most majestic thing there is,” says Benjamin. “What could be more beautiful than spending time at or on the sea? What really bothers me, is when I see how carelessly this so important and beautiful element is treated. That’s why we decided to support projects that are effectively and thoughtfully committed to cleaning up the oceans. I deeply admire these people. We want to take an active part in the conservation of the oceans. The generations after us should later be able to experience the sea with all its beauties and wonders as I was allowed to experience it since my childhood. The sea is the greatest thing there is, but we are well on the way to destroying it if we haven’t already done so. But I am an optimist and I think we can still save a lot if global consciousness is finally created. The vast amounts of plastic waste that are dumped carelessly in our oceans every day inevitably affect every one of us, starting with those who are at the mercy of our actions and deserve it least. If the current pollution of the seas is not contained and combated, this majestic ecosystem will contain more plastic than fish over the next 30 years, scientists say.”

The selected initiatives for example include 1% for the Planet, which is active and efficiently working in this sector, furthermore the great bubble barrier and healthyseas.

“Do more together than you can alone” is the motto of 1% for the Planet and at the same time underlines the way young entrepreneurs think:

“With the purchase of a kūlson shoe, the consumer also makes an active contribution to do something for the ocean.”

The sparrow adorns the logo of the kūlson fashion label. “This bird is a smart and actually also very beautiful but by far underestimated small cosmopolitan, who is at home all over the world. Urban, elegant, stylish, classy and yet very robust. That’s us,” say the founders about the label logo.