CANO is the new kid on the block when it comes to ethical fashion. They design ethically handcrafted huaraches (sandals) that hold Mexican traditions and empower artisans all around the world to follow their passion while being able to provide for their families.
I was lucky enough to interview Lukas and Phillip, founders behind CANO, all about their brand and a bit about their personal lives too. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed interviewing them!
Who or what inspired you to create Cano?
When we were in Mexico, we were amazed by the rich culture and the colorful and unique fashion. Mostly, we were stunned by the huarache – a traditional handwoven leather sandal that has its roots in the Aztec culture and that is until today very popular in Mexico. The first pair Philipp has received from his Mexican girlfriend and once we were back in Germany, we could not forget about these shoes. So we returned to the place where it all started to look for a sustainable and ethical way to create our own huaraches. And now, Philipp always has good reason to visit his girlfriend in Mexico.
What are your main aims of Cano?
With CANO, we want to create a brand that stands for authentic Mexican craftsmanship. We want to ensure that the Mexican artisans behind our huaraches receive the credit they deserve. In the age of fast fashion and immense price competition, true craftsmanship, with the detail and time invested in each piece of work, is not valued as it should be. Therefore, it is not unusual that artisans live in humble circumstances despite the exceptional skills they have. Taking away the pressure of the price competition by ensuring a fair salary and offering better working and living conditions for them and their families is a key part of our vision.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Only do something and take action, when it is completely in line with your values. But if it is, then give it you’re all. Otherwise, you will always regret it at a later point in your life.
How do you relax after a hard day of work and what are some little things that make your day better?
Currently, work is nothing that stresses us. Working on CANO and turning our vision into reality, is something that gives us energy and drive. Of course, there are always hard days and challenges. But the feedback we get makes us go on. Nonetheless, we are both outgoing and love spending time with our friends. So this is probably still the best way to relax.
Where do you see Cano in the future, let’s say 4-5 years?
A very good question. CANO stands for authentic Mexican craftsmanship. Currently, we completely focus on huaraches, as these caught our attention first. However, Mexican craftsmanship is not limited to creating this amazing footwear. Mexico has so many different facets to offer and so does its craftsmanship – from handcrafted footwear over carefully distilled tequila to handpicked coffee beans or just other leather wear and so much more. Why not extend the brand and supporting other artisans of these professions?
What is behind the name Cano?
We wanted something easy but also something that is related to our vision and product. After many brainstorming sessions, we finally came up with CANO, as the third syllabus from “Mexicano” and we directly liked it. And here we go, CANO it is!
If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
We are actually working on another project during night times. We are in direct contact with a community of coffee farmers in Chiapas (South of Mexico). They produce one of the best organic coffee in the world but receive only about $1.50 per kg while the coffee is sold to the final consumer for $20. We don’t think this is fair, so we are looking for ways to increase their wages and make people even more aware of this issue. So, if we didn’t have to sleep, we would probably invest the extra time into this project.
Who made your beautiful leather shoes?
Our huaraches are 100% from Mexico – starting with the leather sourcing to the finalization of the huarache. The leather hides come from wide open ranches from the states of Michoacán, Jalisco, and Colima. Our artisans are all located in a small town called Sahuayo in the state of Michoacán. To ensure a well-structured manufacturing process, we work together with a workshop that prepares the individual parts of our shoes. These parts are then distributed to our tejedoras, which means weaving artisans. These are mostly women that work from their homes so that they can care for their children while earning some money. After that, the shoes are picked up again and soled and polished at the workshop.
What is your favourite style of shoe that you sell?
Another good question that is very tough to answer. We both really like the BENITO, as it comes closest to the original huarache. But also think that the HIDALGO and ZAPATA look amazing and all of them are all super comfortable. That’s why we both have all models in our wardrobe so that we can wear whatever fits our mood and outfit the best.
If you would like to support CANO on Kickstarter, check them out here! Or, check out their website, Instagram, and Facebook.