Kicking back in Koio's

Preamble: the footwear industry was valued at over $222 billion in 2017 by Credence Research, Inc. Shoes offer different values from functionality, aesthetics, and as trophies. In order to assign an appropriate rating, this review is catered towards a customer who finds wearable premium footwear appealing.   

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A banker and a consultant walk into a Wharton classroom...and cofound a luxury sneaker brand. Chris Wichert and Johannes Quodt were fond of shoes produced by Prada, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton but were suspicious of the $600+ price tags. Perhaps they were inspired by their fellow alums disrupting the eyewear industry, but a trip to Le Marche region in Italy was the step the pair needed to launch their own disruptor, the Koio Collective.

The premise is a limited product offering across low & high top sneakers and a version of the Balenciaga “dad shoe” that has been proliferating fashion week. The more popular Capri style comes in several colors and materials, primarily leather and suede, mirroring cult favorite Common Project’s Achilles low top.

When my prior pair of leather sneakers were about end of life, I ordered the all gray Capri Perla’s. I’ve been wearing these sneakers to work and on the weekends paired with jeans or midi skirts and have found they’re quite versatile and have gotten more comfortable with wear. This review is based on six months worth of wear:

Serving: 🥟🍜🥢🥡

  • Quality 🥟 probably the strongest category Koio fulfills, the calf skin leather looks and feels high-quality and despite creasing in the toe box from walking over time, is retaining shape and doesn’t feel at risk for cracking. Unlike my other sneakers, there is a nice cushion behind the heel where the suede detailing loops around. The structure and sturdiness of the Koios also meant I didn’t need to add gel cushioning to the footbed. Keep in mind, these did take some time to break in. The shoes weren’t as pliable as other shoes I’ve had in the past, but the sturdiness of material has allowed the shoe to maintain its appearance over time. On a side-by-side basis, the sneakers look very similar to CP’s Achilles, and I think if I want to get another pair, I would go back to Koio. I’m normally a size 8.5, but they don’t come in half sizes, so I sized down per the recommendation to an 8.  

  • Pricing 🍜 keep in mind, these are a pair of leather sneakers and in comparison to CP’s $415 Achilles and Gucci’s $580 New Ace low tops. For $248, this price point isn’t for everyone, but since I anticipate being able to wear these for years, I am quite content with the cost versus other luxury brands.

  • Happy Customers 🥢 admittedly, I don’t have much to say in this category as I had a very simple transaction and didn’t require any customer service contact. I checked a few Reddit threads and sensed most customers came away with similar experiences (but if you personally didn’t, please let me know).

  • Delivery & Returns 🥡shipping in the U.S. is free for both delivery and returns (except Alaska, US Territories & Hawaii). My shoes were shipped the day after I made my purchase, and I received them a few days later.

minor meddling: what could be better

  • Transparency 🍚 while there is a lovely video describing the handmade and intricate craftsmanship of their shoes, I had a difficult time determining how the materials were sourced and whether the markups attributed to luxury brands were well warranted. I’d like to better understand each part of their supply chain as well as any efforts they’re making towards sustainability.   

  • Good Karma 🥠 unaware of any charitable or environmental associations

Additionally, Koio releases limited edition collaborations with partners from the Beverly Hills Hotel to artists such as Tyler Shields. Overall, I am quite happy with my Koio kicks. It will be interesting to see how they expand, whether it’s offering more styles or opening brick-and-mortar shops to help address an already saturated social media marketing of footwear. They recently opened a pop-up in San Francisco, and it will be interesting to see if Koio’s catch on or if the crowd stays partial to their Allbirds.   


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More Articles:

  • NY Times Koio coverage link

  • Fast Company link

  • Radiche Art Makers link

  • Le Marche region shoemakers link

  • Shoe comparison versus The Greats link