The word “startup” might conjure images of Silicon Valley, but Koio Collective is an independently minded company selling a product that’s much more timeless than gadgets or apps: sneakers. Co-founders Johannes Quodt and Chris Wichert saw a need for a high-end shoe that they could bring on their travels and wear for any occasion, so they set out for Italy in search of a manufacturer. After a series of disappointments, they found what they were looking for.
“On the last day, by following a few leads, we ended up in a small, family-owned business that was doing so well that they were producing shoes for Chanel and Alexander McQueen,” says Wichert. “After meeting with the owners and talking with them for several hours, we convinced them of our concept and got them on board.”
Now, one year after the brand launched, the handmade, minimalistic sneakers have caught the eye of numerous celebrities and fashion bloggers. Samira Wiley of Orange is the New Black, ballerina Misty Copeland and Teen Wolf actor Cody Saintgnue have been spotted in the stylish shoes.
In the spirit of modern convenience, Koio Collective does business primarily online, but the brand does maintain a Brooklyn showroom and often hosts pop-up shops in different locations. New Yorkers can check out the sneakers in person at the Seaport Studios at South Street Seaport through this weekend.