Between tradition and innovation: thyssenkrupp Steel and Grubenhelden set up joint fashion label
Company | Engagement | Historie | People at thyssenkrupp | Sustainability and climate protection | Steel is versatile, modern and has outstanding recycling properties. The new “august & alfred” brand combines all these qualities. It’s not a new grade of steel but a unique collection of men’s and women’s clothing and accessories, created in cooperation with the fashion label Grubenhelden.
What’s unique is that the clothes are made from used aluminized coats, the special heat-resistant clothing worn by steel mill workers. The collection is a collaboration between Grubenhelden and thyssenkrupp Steel’s inclusion workshops and has been available to buy since October.
Social and local: a second chance
Accepting social responsibility is part of the core of thyssenkrupp. As early as the 19th century, August Thyssen and Alfred Krupp began building miners’ housing estates, still home to people in the Ruhr today, and looking after employees’ education, health and much more. Today, thyssenkrupp still supports education, innovation and social initiatives in the communities in which it operates. “We’re continuing what August Thyssen and Alfred Krupp started: standing up for each other and sticking together, now and in the future, as a company, as a partner in the region, as people,” says Frederik Hoffmann, head of inclusion at thyssenkrupp Steel and a driving force behind the collaboration.
The accessories and cuts for the unique items of clothing are 100% handmade by employees in the inclusion workshops at thyssenkrupp Steel in Duisburg. These are people who have overcome personal turning points in their lives and are moving forward shaping their future. “Our employees can no longer work at their original workplaces because of what they have been through, and some can’t even go back to the mill at all, for example after a long illness,” says Hoffmann. People like these are given jobs in the company’s Duisburg workshops, where they do saddlery, welding, coating, engraving and sewing work for the steel mill departments, among other things.
For Hoffmann’s employees, creating fashion was a completely new field of work and took some getting used to at first. However, the impressive results and the opportunity to sell the products beyond the factory gates quickly made them enthusiastic about their new task. Continuing to employ people whose capabilities have changed is part of the company’s social responsibility, says Hoffmann. With an inclusion rate of 9.1%, the Duisburg-based steel manufacturer significantly exceeds the official requirement of 5%.
Fair and sustainable
Even the work that is not carried out in Duisburg takes place under fair conditions and is contracted out to partners in the EU who are committed to the same standards. In addition, some of the proceeds from the sale of august & alfred products go to charities. “Our collections are meant to be high-quality and sustainable, which is why we have them sewn under fair conditions in Portugal and Gladbeck, and our customers appreciate that,” says Matthias Bohm, explaining the idea behind his Grubenhelden label.
The Ruhr region, home of Grubenhelden and thyssenkrupp, is a byword for transformation, versatility and solidarity. And likewise, steel is not only versatile and modern but also highly sustainable. “The idea of turning old steelworker clothing into new fashion is creative, exciting – and sustainable. It’s a perfect blend of tradition, future and urban lifestyle,” says Markus Grolms, CHRO of thyssenkrupp Steel. “And the fact that our employees manufacture a good part of the collection in our inclusion workshops makes the concept very special. With entrepreneurial spirit, social commitment and lots of passion, the Grubenhelden and thyssenkrupp Steel team has created a great project.”
One of the outstanding properties of steel is that it is almost 100 percent recyclable. The fashion collaboration picks up on this idea by turning used steelworker clothing into a valuable raw material. If you’re interested in the brand-new collection, it’s available online and in Grubenhelden stores.