The Founder of Dolce Vita Returns With a Sustainable Shoe Brand

For Nick Lucio, the former founder of Dolce Vita, launching a new brand meant moving in a totally different direction where less equals more. Enter Oncept, a new label from Lucio and former Dolce Vita creative director Megan Key Campos.

“We would make thousands of samples and they would all go in the trash, so we’re not going to do it the old way,” said Lucio. “We don’t need as much product, but we need better quality, we need lasting, versatile, and things that are less harmful to the planet.” Oncept, which oƒofficially launched in May, consists of five seasonless styles: a slide sandal, mule, flat and two sneakers created with comfort in mind.

oncept shoes
Shoes arrive in a reusable, organic tote bag, without the use<br />of tissue or any plastic materials inside the box.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Oncept

“As a designer, a small edit allows you to step back, take your time, be inspired and really concentrate,” added Campos, who said she was inspired by furniture and botanical hues. “This is enjoyable. I’ll be honest — you get burned out the other way when you’re just making things, churning out shoes as fast as you can go.”

The styles, retailing from $250 to $300, are also made through a “fashion conscious” lens via a female-owned and operated factory in China, using responsible materials such as recycled nylons, sugarcane EVA, Tencel linings and bio-based insole foam.

While Oncept is available online via direct-to-consumer, Lucio and Campos are focused on supporting independent businesses through their wholesale strategy, rather than retail in department stores.

Anthony Brown, manager of the Shoes on King boutique in Charleston, S.C., said, “The line is so different than what he did at Dolce Vita, and it’s a refreshing new entry to the marketplace. The fit, the price point and materials — we’ve had an amazing reaction to the product.”

Oncept sandals
Oncept Athens sandal.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Oncept

Lucio explained, “It’s no secret that direct-to-consumer is the future. But in my experience, the true love comes from amazing boutiques that exist. The mom-and-pop shops have been the biggest supporters. That’s what put Dolce Vita on the map. We just want a positive energy and the boutiques to align.”

For Campos, launching during a pandemic couldn’t have come at a better moment. “Brands are going to come out of the woodwork. I think it’s a chance for people to regroup and it’s time — people need newness.”

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