Cano reconnects consumers and makers of fashion and bring joy to both of them through transparency, fairness and sustainability across their entire value chain.
Founded by old high-school friends, Philipp and Lukas, after a trip to Mexico. Coming from Europe, the two best friends were fascinated by the vibrant cultures, warm climate and food on their trip. What interested them the most was the quality and passion behind Mexico’s handcrafted footwear and fashion. The Mexican huarache, handmade leather sandals backed by a great culture and history is what captivated their attention.
WE ASKED PHILIP AND LUKAS ABOUT THE STORY BEHIND CANO, WHAT INSPIRES THEM, AND THEIR WORK WITH ARTISANS IN MEXICO.
How did the idea and name of Cano come about?
It all started back in 2014 on study exchange. My Mexican girlfriend gifted me (Philipp) a pair of traditional huaraches and I immediately fell in love. I thought that it is the shoe that can fix all men’s summer footwear problems. Usually you are stuck in the dilemma between looking nice and being comfortable. With huaraches you get both! Also you can dress them up with a suit for a fancy dinner or dress them down with shorts to wear them on the beach. The name CANO comes from “mexicano” - we wanted it to be short, easy to remember and connected to the origin of our products.
What was the process of starting an Artisan made shoe company like?
Very tough but fun. The most difficult part was finding the best artisans in this field. So we travelled across Mexico until we ended up finding Sebastian's workshop in Sahuayo, Michoacán. And then even with his and his artisans years of expertise, we managed to produce shoes that didn’t really fit. So it was a long way for us to get to the high quality huaraches that we have right now.
How many times have you traveled to Mexico?
I (Philipp) have lived in Mexico for 15 months straight and since moving back to Germany I have travelled to Mexico 7 times and each time I stayed between 1 and 3 months. So in total I have been in Mexico for over 2 years. I actually consider myself partly Mexican now.
What are the top three places in Mexico we can’t miss at all?
Oh this is difficult. The most fascinating fact about Mexico is that you can find almost all climate zones. No matter if you are looking for a hot desert, humid tropics or snowy mountains, Mexico has it all. One of my favourite places is the pacific coast of Michaocán. It is not touristy at all and you can find miles of empty virgin beaches where they serve the freshest seafood. Then there is Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende. These are beautiful colonial Mexican cities that will make you want to take photos on every corner. And finally Chiapas. The state in the south of Mexico offers everything your outdoor heart craves - mountains, rainforests, waterfalls and ancient ruins.
If you could describe Cano in a few words, how would you describe it?
Conserving century old techniques with modern designs, while connecting the consumer with the maker.
What has been your most satisfying moment with Cano?
I don’t think there is one moment. I love it when I walk into the workshop and our artisans give me a warm welcome with hugs and kisses. But I also love to see our customers being filled with joy when wearing their CANOs.
Could you tell us more about the artisan community who create Cano shoes?
We work together with two small workshops. One in Sahuayo, Michaocan that produces the huaraches and one in Leon, Guanajuato that produces boots and mules. Both are small family run businesses that hire highly skilled artisans from the area to conserve and pass on the traditional manufacturing techniques.
How would you describe your work with the communities that manufacturer your Products in Mexico?
We have a very friendly relationship with each of our artisans. We know each of them by name and visit them every time we are in Mexico. For us it is very important that they know how much we appreciate what they do for us, because without them CANO wouldn’t exist.
Why do you believe transparency is so important in fashion supply chains? How do you share Cano’s transparency with your customers?
We at CANO believe that transparency is the only solution to make fashion more sustainable and ethical. Customers need to know more about where the products come from, which materials have been used and under which conditions they have been manufactured. This way consumers get more emotionally attached to the products they are wearing and better understand their value. Each of our huaraches for example takes 8 hours to manufacture by hand and about 20 artisans are involved in the production. Our transparency is in the shape of an app. Each of our shoes is equipped with an NFC tag that can be scanned with our app. The app will then display the supply chain of our shoes and each artisan involved in the manufacturing process.
How do you describe the Cano shoe style? And what is the best occasion to wear it?
The beauty of our CANOs is their versatility. You can literally wear them on any occasion. Many grooms buy a pair of CANOs for their wedding, others wear them to the beach and we prefer wearing them with jeans and a white t-shirt.
What is your favorite Cano shoe?
For me it’s definitely the BENITO. Doesn’t matter the color or the sole but this style is my all time favourite.
What is your favorite book? Or What book about sustainable businesses has inspired you the most?
People over Profit by Dale Partridge. A must read for everyone who wants to build a sustainable business.