Exclusive: Why Kickasso Launched a Kickstarter for His Debut Customizable Sneaker

After years of customizing kicks from today’s top brands for high profile athletes and entertainers, Troy “Kickasso” Cole is making it easier for anyone to own one of his designs.

The renowned sneaker artist is working to release his signature sneaker in spring ’18, the K_o 1, under his K_o Brand imprint. The model is customizable and allows the wearer to change the shoe’s look as often as he or she pleases.

The K_o 1, according to the artist, fills a void in the marketplace.

“I see the interest in what I do, but brands right now aren’t fulfilling this niche market, and people want to stand out,” Cole explained to Footwear News.

To get the project off the ground, Cole launched a Kickstarter campaign with a goal of $150,000.  Funding via the online platform ends on Aug. 15.

Kickasso spoke exclusively with FN and shared details on the customizable sneaker, where people can buy them once they’re available, and why he chose Kickstarter to help fund the project.

What do people need to know about the sneaker you’re creating with the Kickstarter funding? What makes this style customizable?

“I call it the K_o 1. The model is basically based off of a lifestyle, casual runner, not really performance-based but comfort-based. The straps that say ‘KO’ are removable and also the sock liner. The straps can be changed into different colors, different materials. Eventually, the plan is to have an ID type of custom website where you could print your own design on the sock part of the shoe, you’ll be able to put whatever colors or patterns right there to be custom made for you.”

Kickasso K_o 1
Another sketch of the Kickasso K_o 1.
CREDIT: Kickasso

What makes the K_o 1 different than any other customizable sneaker on the market?

“It’s a design of my own, and I’m kind of known as the guy who is the customizing guru, if you will. Putting my current customization platform that I have into my own silhouette is going to allow me to sell not other brands but my own shoe. And the backing I have and my following puts it a step above any other brand that wants to sell a customizable shoe.”

What makes the lifestyle runner such a good canvas for customization?

“The lifestyle runner is the hottest thing out right now. It’s just versatile; you can go jogging in it, you could wear it with your jeans, with your joggers. The versatility of the silhouette is not like a basketball shoe. People used to wear Jordans with anything, but the times are changing a little bit with that.”

Will you expand your line to other types of sneakers?

“In the long run, depending on the success of this silhouette, I’ll have everything from performance cleats to basketball shoes and some slides, slip-ons as well.”

Kickasso Slides
A sketch of Kickasso’s slides.
CREDIT: Kickasso

What are your sales expectations for the sneakers once they become available?

“I don’t have a goal, but I think it’s going to be successful; I already have a lot of people on board ready to purchase. I’m going to try to keep it pretty inexpensive as far as runners go, I’m going to be in the $200 price range.”

Why did you turn to Kickstarter to get this project going?

“I thought it would make the story in the long run that much better. I could use investors, but by putting the project in the people’s hands, I’m hoping people will be excited about the launch.”

When will these sneakers become available for purchase, and where will they be sold?

“I plan on selling them mainly on my website — everything will be run through there. I’d like to get into some specialty boutiques through the relationships I already have and push them out that way. They’ll be available at Agenda shows and capsule shows and things like that, too.”

Kickasso K_o 1
The K_o 1 by Kickasso.
CREDIT: Kickasso.

Who is this sneaker for? What kind of customer do you expect to attract with the K_o 1?

“This shoe is definitely for the person who wants to stand out, it’s definitely for the person that doesn’t want what everybody else has got on their feet. Anybody that wears my custom shoes knows that it’s a conversation starter, it’s going to turn heads, its going to get attention. That’s the client I’m looking for, someone that’s looking for something different.”

How do you plan to get out the word about the K_o 1?

“In the next 30 days we’re going to have a couple of events in the L.A. area, pop-ups and parties and things like that, to get the word out and drum up some interest. We’ll have some big names in the sports world and entertainment world backing it, too. But the names aren’t solidified right now.”

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