Kūlson - timeless sneakers without compromise
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.
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.
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.