Carl Klostermann and Sons

Sustainable shoe accessories

The family business Carl Klostermann and Sons (CKS) has been producing shoe accessories for 127 years and attaches great importance to sustainability, particularly with regard to social aspects such as loyalty to its location and staff responsibility. However, the shoelace manufacturer from Wuppertal is also aware of its ecological responsibility and contributes to climate protection, not only through measures aimed at energy efficiency implemented within the company, but also by developing sustainable products. In future, the packaging for shipping products will also be made more sustainable.

Carl Klostermann Söhne GmbH & Co. KG is a company with a long history. It is a good example of Wuppertal’s history as a textile manufacturing city: Carl Klostermann, who was the great-grandfather of Jutta Platz, the current owner of the business, founded the company on 1st October 1891 to produce various types of braided articles. In 1922, his two sons, Carl and Heinrich, joined the company and specialised in the production of shoelaces. At the end of the war, the next generation once again took over responsibility and further expanded the company – finally handing it over to the fourth generation of the family in the 1990s.

Climate protection objective:

  • More sustainable packaging for shipping goods
  • Constant increase in efficiency (energy and resources)
  • Continued development of more sustainable products

1 of 4

Photo: Giorgio Pastore

A view of the braiding department: in the braiding department, metres of tape for making shoelaces are produced on around 400 braiding bobbins. The employees need a lot of skill and experience to operate the machines.

Regional value chains

With its total of 37 employees, the family business now produces mainly shoelaces, lanyards and elastic straps. The entire production process takes place at the company in Wuppertal. To remain competitive on the market, despite the higher prices that are involved in manufacturing products in Germany, CKS positioned itself as a high-quality supplier in the premium segment. CKS also has the yarns, which are woven and braided into the laces, dyed and finished locally. Alongside quality, this is how the company is able to compete with lower-priced suppliers.

Environmental and climate protection impacts result from the geographically restricted supply chains and the reduced need for transport that these entail, as well as from the improved possibilities for supervision due to personal contact with the suppliers. The latter also helps the company to negotiate on and ensure the absence of pollutants.

Within the company, CKS is also working on improving its carbon footprint: the company uses only green electricity for its entire operation and has converted the lighting to use LED lamps. In addition, various energy-saving alterations have been made in the building: a new heating system has been installed and the use of waste heat was introduced to reduce energy consumption. The existing production processes are constantly being improved; the heating system, for example, has been fitted with automatic control valves.

Development of compostable shoelaces

Furthermore, the shoelace manufacturer would like to ensure that its products are sustainable. To this end, back in 2014, CKS developed a sustainable yarn in collaboration with a well-known children’s shoe manufacturer in order to produce resource-conserving, extremely durable laces that are virtually toxin-free – Tencel™ shoelaces. Instead of using cotton, as is the norm for shoelaces, the fibres used are extracted from the wood pulp of the eucalyptus tree. Growing eucalyptus not only requires a lot less space compared to cotton, it also requires less water and no pesticides. The Tencel™ fibre is produced by the company Lenzing in an innovative closed system, then coloured in Bavaria using dyes that are Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)-certified, and finally processed into shoelaces in Wuppertal.

Regional and large enough

Alongside the constant increase in the efficiency of its processes and the development of more sustainable products, CKS has set itself a concrete target for the coming years: the packaging for shipping the products will be made more sustainable – until now the products were packed in plastic bags. The plan is to achieve this target by the end of 2020. Corporate growth, on the other hand, is not a declared strategic aim. On the contrary: the company knows from bad experience that its current size is what makes its business strategy, which is focused on quality and sustainability, feasible in the first place.

Photo: Giorgio Pastore

“In line with the Council’s quotation supporting sustainable development, I would also like to say: we must leave behind an intact ecological, social and economic structure for our children and grandchildren!”

Jutta Platz, Managing Director