Words by: Johannes Quodt, CO-Founder & Co-CEO
Just catching a glimpse of a “Made in Italy” label on a shoe sparks an instant association with luxury and old-world craftsmanship – and for good reason.
There’s no other place in the world where the shoemaking industry has been so perfectly refined in tandem with the complex infrastructure required to create the highest quality footwear. Today, you’ll find many brands that believe they can replicate this infrastructure in one building – often in regions outside of Italy where low-wage labor is prevalent. But the reality remains that the specialized expertise required to create the world’s best footwear can’t be replicated and built overnight in one space – it takes a region and there’s certainly something to be said for centuries-long organic growth.
As the birthplace of luxury leather shoes, Italy’s Le Marche region is home to a myriad of specialized companies that each have honed generations upon generations of expertise in their focused field – the tanneries make the world’s softest leathers, last-makers perfectly reference the anatomy of the foot to create lasts that offer both premium comfort and beautiful shape, lace makers use wax to ensure lasting strength, outsoles are made with the perfect blend of rubber to withstand thousands of miles of wear. The Italian infrastructure is truly inimitable in excelling at the level of each individual component.
Spend a day walking around the town of Civitanova or anywhere in Le Marche and you’ll find the fervor and passion for footwear to be palpable. Stop to chat with any person on the street and you’re bound to find that they, their parents, grandparents and beyond, have all spent their lives making shoes. Footwear is the heart and soul of the region and everyone is connected and tuned it – quite literally via the Radio Scarpe (shoe radio), the name for the informal network of connections in the Marchese footwear world. As soon as something newsworthy happens, it’s passed along from telephone to telephone via Radio Scarpe.
The expertise is unparalleled and the emotional intensity high at the best manufacturers in the region, where you’ll find different people from all walks of life joining forces in producing the region’s pride and joy – leather shoes. From the Nonna who for 40+ years has been stitching the leather uppers to the tatted up 22 year-old soccer fan operating the heavy machinery, it’s a passion and mission that unites generations.
Walking through our factory, you’re bound to come across heated discussions where rationale goes out the window as emotions rise. It might be over the shape of the outsole, as voices become louder, layering over one another. This is how the culture works and how their team makes sure that only the best ideas survive. You could view it as the ultimate labor of love. It’s hard work but it’s worth it.
Widely-regarded as the premier manufacturer in the Marche region, our manufacturer boasts the expertise of a generations-old family business combined with the backing of one of the world’s greatest luxury fashion houses (Chanel acquired the facility a few years ago). Koio’s sneakers are made on the absolute highest quality last – one designed by a master last-maker with the decades of experience necessary to make a last that provides a custom-made shape and feel. We use premium materials, focusing specifically on our leather, sourced from the region’s most prestigious leather manufacturer. Double or reinforced stitching in high-stress areas ensure maximum durability and hand-painted edges act as a sealant for the leather, locking everything into place and preventing wear and tear. When you look at the final product, you see all the passion and pride that go into making each pair of Koios. The end product is a masterpiece that boasts the comfort, durability and long-term look deserving of the title, “best sneaker in the world.”