Koio Looks to a More Sustainable Future With Regenerative Leather Launch

Koio is taking the next step in its sustainability journey with the introduction of a sneaker made from regenerative leather.

Driven by a desire to reverse the environmental impact of an industry that Koio relies on, co-founders Johannes Quodt and Chris Wichert set out to find a new way of creating their collections—one that holistically addresses some of the world’s most pressing climate issues — including carbon emissions, biodiversity loss, and depletion of the planet’s arable soils. Their research led them to regenerative agriculture.

“Regenerative agriculture is a system of farming that mimics the natural movements and processes of animals and plants,” explained Quodt. “What’s remarkable about this system is that it sequesters atmospheric carbon in the ground, reviving soils that have been depleted by industrial agriculture and creating healthy ecosystems where biodiversity flourishes.”

The shoe, which is an updated version of the brand’s best-selling Capri style, has been in development for over a year. During that year of development, the team reimagined their entire supply chain in order to accomplish their goal of making regenerative products. “We set up a completely new supply chain for this new shoe, one that doesn’t exist for anyone else or in any other way,” Quodt told FN. “We connected farms that work regionally in the Alpine region of Surselva, Switzerland with a tannery in Germany that can work with these non-industrial hides and vegetable tan them. These hides then move to our manufacturer in Italy which turns that vegetable tanned leather into shoes.”

The finished product, dubbed the “Capri Regenerative,” is made available in the brand’s popular brown “Castagna” and black “Onyx” colorways. Due to natural variations in the hides, each shoe is unique to the wearer.

Koio's new Capri Regenerative sneaker in Onyx
Koio’s new Capri Regenerative sneaker in Onyx.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Koio

Asked whether the brand will shift all of its production to this new supply chain, Quodt told FN that for now, it will only be used for Koio’s regenerative leather product. “My dream would be to have the regenerative line take over our complete business, and for us to be going forward just as a regenerative footwear brand,” Quodt said. “But the way we’re going to do it now is allow our customers to select which shoe they want to buy – our traditional leather shoe or regenerative leather shoe.”

Quodt did note that there is a price difference between the two sneakers given the sustainable elements. The original Capri retails for $268 while the new Capri Regenerative retails for $328.

The brand’s non-regenerative leathers are sourced from LWG-certified Italian tanneries, its cottons are GOTS-certified organic or Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified — and the vast majority of its soles are made with Forest Stewardship Council-certified and recycled rubbers.

“Regenerative leathers are only the first step toward achieving our larger goals,” said Quodt. “By 2025, all of our materials — rubber, cotton, and so on — will be sourced from regenerative farms.”

Reflecting on big accomplishments from 2021, Quodt noted that Koio grew its business 54% while maintaining its core distribution online. The brand also debuted women’s and launched men’s boots. Both categories are expected to expand in 2022.

The brand also is looking into expanding its distribution in Europe. “We are just starting to respond to the demand that we’ve been seeing in the continent. So, we’ll see,” Quodt said.

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