I Tried Princess Diana-Inspired Sneakers at a Live Fashion Event During COVID — Here’s How It Went

As the world slowly begins to inch its way back towards normal life, the fashion industry is now moving forward with business during the time of the coronavirus. On Tuesday, Italian-made sneaker brand Koio held its first in-person event since the pandemic hit New York in March. To celebrate the launch of Koio’s new aerobics-inspired shoe, the event included a workout class led by Megan Roup, founder of celebrity-approved dance cardio company The Sculpt Society.

Naturally, I couldn’t help but contemplate the logistics of it all: How many people would attend? What social distancing measures would be in place? And is it really safe to be exercising (read: breathing heavily) in somewhat close proximity to others? Despite my initial qualms, however, the event seemingly went off without a hitch.

I arrived at Spring Studios at 9 a.m. for the event, decked out head to toe in my workout gear and cloth face mask. Upon entering the building, I was greeted by two mask-clad individuals sitting behind a desk with an attached plastic barrier. One checked my temperature, had me sign in on an iPad and sent me on my way to the rooftop.

The rooftop’s expansive size, coupled with its stunning views of the city skyline, immediately calmed my nerves. I was also put at ease by the event setup. All attendees, including the PR staff, were required to wear masks until the class started, and everyone thoroughly obliged. The event invite also prefaced that the staff would be taking, “exemplary measures to ensure everyone’s comfort and safety in entry, distance and deep cleaning.” Approximately 15 mats were set up at at least 6 feet apart from one another, following CDC guidelines for social distancing measures. Each mat was accompanied by a set of dumbbells, an exercise bag filled with Koio merchandise and bottle of hand sanitizing gel for use at any time. The staff also informed us that we could take our mats home for sanitary purposes.

In the end, only about half the mats were occupied — possibly a result of people backing out at the last minute or being unable to roll out of bed for the early call time. Either way, the smaller group gave us even more room to spread out, which made me feel better about the fact that we were all allowed to remove our masks once we reached our individual mats and started exercising.

A look at the Koio’s New York workout class on Wednesday, Sept. 9.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Purple PR

The 30-minute routine was butt-kicking, but in the best way possible. Accompanied by a live DJ set and instructor Roup’s encouraging smile, the high-energy sequence definitely gave me a rush of endorphins. Plus, having the opportunity to exercise in a safe group setting was a welcome reprieve from my daily solo runs. Even Koio co-founders Johannes Quodt and Chris Wichert took part in the workout.

Catching up with Quodt at the end of the class, I asked him about the company’s decision to hold a live event. “During this time that has been really rough on everyone, we wanted to offer an experience that’s fun and positive — while of course taking proper protective measures,” he said. “It’s a subtle reminder of simpler times.”

Koio’s latest sneaker also exemplifies this nostalgic ethos. Inspired by Princess Diana’s iconic athleisure style, the high-top silhouette (which is technically a street shoe, not a workout-specific style) features velcro ankle straps, a chunky outsole and comes in an all-white or purple colorblock finish with reflective side details. For breathable comfort, it includes 3D mesh and fine calfskin leather. And, like the rest of the brand’s high-quality offerings, it’s crafted by the same Italian artisans who make leather goods for Chanel and Hermès.

Britain's Princess of Wales leaves the Chelsea Harbour Club, in London Monday morning November 20, 1995 after a fitness workout on the day the BBC were due to screen a 60-minute Panorama interview given by the Princess. The BBC has kept details of what Princess Diana says in the interview a close secret. (AP Photo/Neil Munns) --UNITED KINGDOM OUT--
Princess Diana leaves the Chelsea Harbour Club in London in 1995 after a fitness workout.

Both colorways of the style are currently available for $348 on Koio.com.

Koio Aerobics Pearl
CREDIT: Courtesy of Koio

All in all, I was impressed by the attention to detail that went into Koio’s event. As New York Fashion Week commences Sept. 13 with certain restrictions and safety measures in place, we have yet to see if these presentations will flow just as smoothly.

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