Koio Collective is a high-end footwear brand for the modern traveler. It was founded by Johannes Quodt and Chris Wichert, two Germans who met at Wharton during their MBA. “We started the brand with the vision of making European luxury more accessible to fashion lovers in the US. In the beginning of the year, we launched Koio Collective with a minimalist and ultra-high-quality sneaker line,” says Chris.
Just six months after launch, Esquire featured Koio’s debut collection on spot 1 of the list of “Coolest Sneakers of 2015”. They were also picked up by Forbes, Business Insider, Bloomberg, and many other media outlets. Their celebrity fan base already reaches from Hollywood stars (e.g., Jake Gyllenhaal, Whoopi Goldberg), to musicians (e.g., Tyrese, Ne-Yo), world-famous athletes (e.g., Lewis Hamilton, Lennox Lewis), and top models (e.g., Jon Kortajarena).
Koio’s debut collection — the Koio Collective Primo — is versatile perfect fit for any journey, whether you’re on a business meeting in New York or going clubbing in Berlin. Each pair is handcrafted in Le Marche, Italy, by one of the most prestigious manufacturers in the country. The entire journey of Koio Collective, though, is really a fascinating one.
Read Chris Wichert’s intriguing story on how Koio Collective came to fruition:
“Johannes and I grew up in many different countries all over the world and travel has always been an essential part of our lives. For our travels, we wanted a high-end and versatile sneaker, so that we could pack light and don’t have to bring 5 pairs of shoes. But when we looked at the market, the only suitable options out there were completely overpriced: Sneakers of traditional luxury brands ranging from $600-1,500.
So we decided to design this shoe ourselves: a high-end sneaker for the modern traveler. We were business students and outsiders to the fashion world, but we were determined to making this happen. At the end of last summer, we traveled to Italy to find the best shoe manufacturers in the world and to really understand what good craftsmanship means. We were on the road for 3 weeks and met with (and also prototyped with) more than 30 manufacturers, but we were disappointed by the quality of most of them. On the last day, a final hint led us to a century-old family business that works for Chanel. This was our holy grail. Although they typically only work with big fashion houses, we convinced them to get on board as a partner. The owner and we clicked about the idea of revolutionizing the luxury shoe industry and agreed to work together. As business students, we had managed to break into the secret circles of luxury shoe making!
Over the following weeks we spent countless hours and created a dozen prototypes, working through each round to perfect the comfort and the design of the shoe. When we held the final prototype in our hands, we knew that this collaboration had brought about something special: a direct and physical manifestation of our dream — far more so than anything else that currently exists in the market: A minimalist shoe of highest-quality that you can easily wear to business meetings, nights out with friends, and on many other occasions.
Each pair of Koio Collective shoes is constructed of only the finest materials. We choose pebble-grain calf leather from Northern Italy for the upper of the shoe, and our manufacturer selects only the best parts of the leather to be cut and stitched. The lining is made of buttery soft tan calf leather from the same region. On top of that, our manufacturer finishes the shoe with an attention to detail that is unseen in even the most expensive sneakers. For example, each leather edge is handpainted to create a clean and elegant finish, an Old World technique that is usually reserved for highest-quality handbags-virtually never for sneakers.
With a direct-to-consumer approach, we are able to offer a quality-price ratio that is unseen in luxury footwear. In the long term, our vision is to be the number one high-end fashion footwear brand for men and women – and to make traditional luxury labels obsolete.”
To learn more about Koio Collective or to cop a pair of their sneaks, visit www.koiocollective.com.