Photo: Hacoy

Hacoy: Ethical fashion with an endless lifespan

Maximilian Rupp wants to make the fashion world a better place with his label Hacoy. The founder sees Hacoy not only as a brand, but also as a mission to have a positive impact on the status quo of the fashion industry - with sustainable and fairly produced, circular clothing.

Munich Startup: What does your startup do? What problem do you solve?

Maximilian Rupp, Hacoy: Hacoy is not a fashion brand in the conventional sense. We see ourselves as missionaries for sustainable and ethical fashion. Our clothing collections are made from high-quality, sustainable materials that are produced in a fair working environment and ensure respect and care for everyone involved in the process. We not only place value on functionality, but also on timeless, outstanding design.

We can tackle the problem of clothing waste and have launched an initiative, the Circular Fashion Orbit, as our commitment to the planet and future generations. With this program, we ensure that every Hacoy garment has an “endless lifespan”. Whether recycling, reselling or upcycling, we are committed to ensuring that our products do not end up in landfills and remain in the fashion cycle.

Hacoy wants to show a different way in the fashion industry. We reduce waste with a “no overproduction, no sale” policy and focus on sustainable quality and fair working conditions. Our ultimate goal is not only to clothe people, but to do so in a way that is kind to our planet and its inhabitants.

Munich Startup: But that’s nothing out of the box!

Maximilian Rupp, Hacoy: The concept of ethical fashion is indeed not new and it is encouraging to see that awareness and implementation of these principles is increasing over the years. However, what sets Hacoy apart is our approach to integrating sustainability and ethics not as an afterthought, but as a core foundation for everything we do. While many brands have only gradually moved to more sustainable practices, Hacoy was born out of a desire to create a fashion line that is ethical from the ground up. Our approach to a ‘circular fashion cycle’ is testament to this and ensures that our products are not only ethically made, but also have a sustainable life cycle. This holistic approach is still quite rare in the industry. Our commitment goes far beyond our products. We strive to positively influence every aspect of our operations, from a harmonious working environment with fair working conditions for our employees to our commitment to the community. All of this combined with our innovative strategies such as zero overproduction and a sales-free model sets Hacoy apart in a sector that has been evolving for years.

Munich Startup: What’s your founding story?

Maximilian Rupp, Hacoy: My journey as an entrepreneur has been a colorful one, characterized by a spirit of innovation and a desire to do things differently. My first business was a fictitious restaurant in my childhood bedroom, my first customer was my mother, who kindly supplemented my pocket money with drinking water from our house, and during my studies at Polimoda in Florence, I developed “Studibon”, an app for student discounts. Entrepreneurship has always been part of my DNA.

The desire to make the fashion world a better place arose during my first job at a handbag label in Munich. Here I experienced first-hand the often overlooked ethical and moral aspects of the fashion industry. This realization made me decide that I wanted to create something that stood for more than pure profit and fast-moving trends. I decided to create a brand rooted in ethics and sustainability. A brand that can proudly bear witness to the fact that fashion can be made in a better way.

Our designer Romana, a brilliant creative mind I met in my last job, shared this vision. Together as a team we embarked on the founding adventure, with her bringing invaluable creativity to the unique design of our collection, while I took on the full entrepreneurial responsibilities. We see Hacoy not just as a brand, but as our mission to make a positive impact on the status quo of the fashion industry. Hacoy initially started as an online store during the pandemic with our best-selling model at the time, the Hacoy linen shirt with detachable tie for working from home.

Munich Startup: What have been your biggest challenges so far?

Maximilian Rupp, Hacoy: Every entrepreneurial journey is peppered with a number of challenges, including ours. One of the biggest hurdles we have faced is gaining visibility in the highly competitive fashion world. Despite our unique value proposition, it was and still is not easy to adequately communicate our recognition value to the public. However, we are proud and grateful that our targeted PR strategy has enabled us to achieve coverage in renowned publications such as Textil Wirtschaft, InStyle Men and Vanity Fair as well as other smaller media outlets.

Another challenge was the search for a retail space in a good location in Munich. Despite increased vacancies, we encountered numerous obstacles, especially the usual long-term leases, which are not exactly founder-friendly. After months of searching, we were lucky enough to find a store in a very good location that offered a one-year lease. A rarity in the industry. We were happy that we now had the flexibility we needed as a young, growing brand.

Perhaps the biggest challenge, however, was and is educating consumers about the importance of ethical fashion. In a society that is used to the lure of cheap, fast fashion, rethinking is a very slow process. Many people are not yet willing to pay money for sustainability in fashion and prefer to go down the route of loss-leader offers and inferior quality of apparently trendy fashion that is propagated via social media, among other things. It will continue to be our mission to influence positive changes that protect people and the environment and to remain true to our principles.

Munich Startup: Where would you like to be in one year, where would you like to be in five years?

Maximilian Rupp, Hacoy: Our goal is to make the Hacoy brand a household name in the Munich area over the next year. We want more and more people in the city to know our brand and what we stand for. It’s not just about the recognition value of our brand, but about anchoring the ethos of sustainable and ethical fashion in the local culture. We want our mission to resonate with the people here in Munich.

In five years, I would like to be able to raise the Hacoy brand to a level of prestige that matches the quality and value of the brand. I would like to be able to expand my flagship store in a location where we can reach as many people as possible, and I would like to create more sustainable jobs. I want our mission to grow and to create new ideas and projects that reach more and more people. To achieve this, Hacoy needs more customers, more awareness beyond Munich and the conviction of consumers that holistically sustainable fashion is good for people and the planet. This is what we are working towards.

Munich Startup: How have you experienced Munich as a startup location so far?

Maximilian Rupp, Hacoy: As a startup hub, Munich offers a mix of opportunities and challenges that have also shaped our path. There’s no shortage of networking events in the city, but I’ll be honest – I often shy away from them. The reason is that such events feel more like a performance competition than a real opportunity for constructive collaboration or exchange of learning.

For the practical aspect of being a startups in Munich, such as finding affordable store rent, Munich is not an easy location for us in retail. However, a physical presence in Munich is crucial for Hacoy to test and validate our brand in a real environment and to be close to our customers. It’s a risk, but one that I believe is essential for our growth.

One thing I have observed in Munich is that Munich is full of creative minds and innovative ideas. However, there seems to be a gap in the implementation of these ideas. Many aspiring entrepreneurs could benefit from more accessible information and support, for example in the form of incubators or mentoring programs to help them take the crucial step from idea to implementation. Munich certainly has the potential to be not only a city of ideas, but also a cradle for successful startups.

Munich Startup: Hidden Champion or Shooting Star?

Maximilian Rupp, Hacoy: At Hacoy, we see ourselves as a hidden champion rather than a shooting star. This is in line with our approach to growth and impact. We don’t chase fleeting fame or quick wins. Instead, we focus on building a solid foundation based on ethical practices, quality products and a sustainable business model. Our path is characterized by steady progress, not a sudden leap into the limelight. We have set ourselves a high goal, which first of all requires a change in awareness of fashion among consumers, which cannot happen overnight. As a hidden champion, we want to accompany this change with our commitment to a better fashion world. We see ourselves as missionaries who strive to build an image with our brand that will enable us to bring about positive changes in the fashion industry in the long term that will benefit people and the environment.