Koio Collective, a new premium men’s sneaker line is taking its product straight to consumers via Koiocollective.com.
The brand, which launched online in March, was founded by German natives Johannes Quodt and Chris Wichert. The debut collection of Italian-made looks focuses on a single high-top style in four color ways, all made of pebbled calf leather. The series retails from $300 to $340.
The partners, both 28, met while attending the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where they will be graduating with master’s degrees this month. Prior to attending Wharton, Wichert had worked in investment banking and commerce start-ups before, while Quodt’s background was in consulting. The two initially self-financed the venture, but have since been tapped outside sources for additional funding.
According to Wichert, the two share a love of sneakers and were convinced the designer looks they sought could be bought at lower prices minus the luxe labels and the brick-and-mortar retail concept. With the help of professors with footwear backgrounds at The Fashion Institute of Technology and Parsons The New School of Design, they came up with a product concept and set out for Italy to find a factory. The business plan was mapped out as part of course work at Wharton. For the design part, the two have tapped an industry veteran to bring their concept to reality.
While commerce remains the brand’s main platform, Wichert said they are seeking retail partnerships with specialty stores in major cities to help build brand awareness. So far, Brooklyn, N.Y.,-based Rime, has picked up the sneakers.
While the initial offering is focused on a single style, additional looks will be added for fall in addition to a women’s line.