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Koio Co-Founder Johannes Quodt Talks First Biodegradable Shoe, Sustainability Strategy and Wholesale

Koio, Mello, biodegradable, sneaker
Courtesy of Koio

Just in time for Earth Day, Koio is taking its sustainability efforts one step further with the launch of its first 99 percent biodegradable sneaker.

According to the luxury footwear brand, the new sneaker, dubbed the “Mello,” is the product of two years of extensive research, prototyping, and wear-testing biodegradable materials. It’s handcrafted in Italy with carbon-neutral, regenerative leathers, which are tanned without using heavy metals and aldehydes, Koio added. It also has a Lactae Hevea sole that’s handmade in France from rubber-tree milk, an insole made of corn, wool, and kenaf, and certified organic cotton laces.

The sneaker is available in three colorways – Castagna, a warm brown shade, Summit, an off-white shade, and Onyx, a true-black shade in both men’s and women’s sizes.

Koio, Mello, biodegradable, sneaker

Koio co-founder Johannes Quodt told FN in an exclusive interview that this launch is the next step in its push to make the footwear industry more sustainable.

“We picked materials for this shoe that biodegrade,” Quodt noted. “It’s essentially a plant-based shoe. What we’re achieving with this shoe is that wherever it ends up at the end of its wear cycle, it has the possibility to biodegrade. So, if it were to actually end up in the ground, then the biodegradation will take place.”

Asked if he will use the learnings from this project and expand the technology across the brand, Quodt said that he wants to continue building out the brand’s regenerative line and offer more styles and colors. “We’re actually already on to the next step, where we’ve started to work with a new tannery that is able to do a wider range of colors and textures for the leather. Right now, we are featuring more muted colors, so this new tannery will allow us to do shades of greens and reds as well. This will eventually allow us to have the ability to replace some of the core leathers that we currently use in the main collection.”

As for what else is happening with Koio, Quodt noted that after a slow period in 2020, sales increased 50 percent in 2021, and another 50 percent in 2022 – with this year “already off to a nice start.”

Quodt also mentioned that while Koio does do the majority of its business online, the company has started to work with wholesale retail partners like Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Goop.

Koio, Mello, biodegradable, sneaker

The debut of Koio’s new Mello sneaker comes one year after the luxury footwear brand unveiled its first sneaker made of regenerative leather. The Capri Regenerative sneaker used leather sourced from carbon neutral and regenerative farms in the Swiss Alps. According to Koio, thanks to these regenerative farming methods, each pair of regenerative leather sneakers saves 43.75 pounds of carbon.

“Our customers have shown a genuine enthusiasm for our carbon-neutral shoes,” Chris Wichert, co-founder of Koio, added. “The first release for Earth Day 2022 sold out within a couple of weeks. Everyone’s excitement about the planet-restoring power of regenerative leather has really motivated us on this journey to create a sneaker that is both carbon-neutral and biodegradable. We can’t wait for everyone to experience the Mello.”

Koio’s new Mello sneaker, which retails for $495, is now available on koio.co.

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Koio Launches Its First 99 Percent Biodegradable Sneaker
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