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This sneaker startup’s explosive growth comes from creative partnerships

This sneaker startup’s explosive growth comes from creative partnerships
[Photo: courtesy of Koio]

Koio was founded by two Germans who wanted to bring Chanel-level quality to high-tops and sneakers. The brand has grown fast over the last three years, at an annual rate of 400%. A big part of this success has come from its strategy of teaming up with a wide range of other brands.

[Photo: courtesy of Koio]
Koio has partnered with everyone from James Whiteside, the principal ballerina for the American Ballet Theatre, to the Game of Thrones franchise to the Beverly Hills Hotel to tattoo artist JonBoy. This week, the brand joined forces with surfer  Quincy Davis. All of these collaborators get a say in designing the sneaker they co-create. “We’ve always approached our collaborations as opportunities to creatively target and resonate with niche demographics of consumers,” says Chris Wichert, Koio’s co-founder.

Koio’s goal is to tap into very different audiences, making the case that high-end sneakers fit into different aesthetics and lifestyles. The shoes look just as appropriate among JonBoy’s edgy downtown clientele as they do among the beachy crowd that loves Quincy Davis.

Ceramics artist Ben Medansky, for instance, helped design a shoe inspired by his own art. The upper is flecked with little dots of color, much like his sculpture. “To me, a true collaboration is when two entities come together and make a completely new thing,” he says. “Because the shoe is so on point in mirroring the aesthetic of my work, there was a very natural interest from my followers.” Medansky’s collection sold out in just a few weeks.

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