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- You’ve probably seen these trendy sneakers before on social media, and if you didn’t know already, they’re from Koio.
- Koio makes luxury sneakers in the same factories as high-end brands like Chanel and Hermes, but for a fraction of what those designers pairs go for. Koio’s shoes range from $180 to $370.
- We spoke to Johannes Quodt and Chris Wichert — Koio’s founders and Co-CEOs — to learn more about what sets the brand apart.
- After trying the shoes for ourselves, we thought that while pricey, they were super comfortable, high quality, stylish, and easy to clean, making them worth it if you have the room in your budget.
I’m a sucker for sneakers. I’d take high-tops over high heels just about any day, because when it comes to footwear, there’s nothing more reliable than your favorite kicks. Like a little black dress, a durable pair of jeans, or a simple white T-shirt, a great pair of sneakers is a wardrobe essential you can always count on for comfort and style. Gone are the days when sneakers were reserved for gym class, commuting, and athletic endeavors — today you’re just as likely to find sneakers on runways as you are at the gym.
Luxury sneakers are all the rage, and Koio is one of the brands leading the charge. For Johannes Quodt and Chris Wichert — Koio’s founders and Co-CEOs — a shared passion for sneakers brought them together. The duo grew up in Germany and both had an infatuation with high-end sneakers, spending "much of their young adult lives saving up to purchase luxury sneakers when they went on sale," they told Business Insider. Still, there was something about the old-school luxury labels that never really felt like them — sneakers at luxury prices seemed more like precious objects that should be stored in the closet than actually worn everyday. When the two met at Wharton Business School, they realized this passion had potential to become a real business.
Capitalizing on social and fashion trends
Quodt and Wichert recognized that there was a shift in the fashion world — brands were moving towards more comfortable and casual styles. Consumers, similar to themselves, were looking (and continue to look) for shoes that could transition from day to night, from professional life to social life — and to this need, the duo had the perfect answer: sneakers.
Businessperson, student, and millennial are just some of the titles the pair respectively found themselves taking on at the time, and thus, they wanted to create a shoe that could reflect that. "We both lived extremely busy lives that required us to seamlessly walk between different worlds and into a variety of different situations every day," the pair told Business Insider, "so we wanted to create the highest quality, most versatile sneakers that would allow us to do just that."
The pair bought a one-way ticket to Italy when they were ready to make their first prototype — they were prepared to spend as much time as needed to find the perfect partners — leather suppliers, shoe manufacturers, and classic lastmakers. After three weeks, they ended up finding a manufacturer that was already producing products for luxury brands like Chanel, Hermes, and Saint Laurent, among others. Given their high-end company, you’d probably expect Koio shoes to go for upwards of $500. While they’re not cheap, Koio shoes instead range from about $180 to $300 — unless you count the extremely adorable Baby Koios, which retail for $78.
With their business school backgrounds, Wichert and Quodt weren’t too focused on following the traditional fashion industry path. Instead, they focused on maintaining a direct-to-consumer approach, which not only helps keep prices low, but also helps retailers engage with consumers. "From the beginning, we focused on leveraging Instagram as a main medium to communicate our aesthetic." If you’ve seen their page — which you probably have — you’d know that they’re doing a great job. It’s an aesthetically pleasing feed full of minimalist photos, with close-ups of high-quality, pebbled leather, soft suede, and the simple, stamped logo — it’s just enough to let you know these are great products, but it leaves plenty of us curious enough to engage further.
Whether it’s their simple, minimalist styles or their more bold options, people are loving Koio’s take on high-end sneakers. In 2018 they grew revenue by 150%.
Comfort and style
Even as someone who counts sneakers as her favorite type of shoe, $250 seemed pretty steep, especially when you consider how many budget-friendly options are on the market. Objectively, they’re still a good chunk of money and may not be worth it for you if you just want a basic pair of sneakers — you could probably be happy with a cheaper pair. But, if you’ve been eyeing their Instagram ads for a while now, or are willing to shell out a little extra on your sneakers, I think Koio is worth it.
After wearing these shoes for about a month now, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy another pair. Here’s why:
If you’re purely in it for style, Koio is a great choice. The brand works with seasoned designers who have experience working for high-fashion names like Balenciaga and Gucci — so expect looks that are just as trendy as they are timeless. If you’re looking for a pair that is not just fashionable, but functional, Koio is still a winner. From my experience, they’re really comfortable, made with high-quality leather that lasts, and they’re easy to clean — making them easy to wear for just about any occasion.
The Capri Bianco ($248) is now my go-to, everyday white sneaker. The leather is supple, making them really easy to break in. The all-white look is modern and matches everything, while the gray suede accent makes these stand out just a little. I was nervous that white leather would be a nightmare to clean, but a damp cloth was enough to wash away any visible wear and tear.
Then there is the Avalanche Nude ($298), Koio’s take on the clunky "dad sneakers" trend.
On a recent vacation, I was dealing with some serious ankle pain. I didn’t want to wear my Asics running sneakers, because frankly, while they’re super comfortable, they didn’t match any of my outfits, but my ankle boots did not have enough support to get me through long days of exploring a new city. Luckily, I realized I had packed my Koio Avalanche sneakers. The all-nude colorway is simple, but the mix of leather and suede make for a more bold style. The chunky sole and monochromatic look makes this a very trendy pair — they looked great with everything I put on, and I was happy to not be wearing my athletic, colorful trainers — but, most importantly, these kept my feet really comfortable and provided more than enough support. The perfect combination of comfort and style make these a pair that I will keep coming back to.
After hearing from Wichert and Quodt, I was left thinking about sneakers in a new light. They compared sneakers to denim, saying "It’s a trend that certainly isn’t going away or slowing down, as we can’t see a world where people revert back to wearing dress shoes in casual settings once they’ve started wearing sneakers." After wearing their shoes to work, on a plane, and to dinner with friends, it’s not hard to believe that these will probably become as much a part of my daily uniform as my favorite pair of jeans.
If you have the budget to spare, or think they’re a worthy investment, maybe a pair of Koio shoes will make it into your everyday rotation, too.
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