On Thursday, luxury sneaker brand Koio announced a partnership that is unlike any other collab on the market. The German-owned brand partnered with New York Public School 149 Sojourner Truth in Harlem, giving students the chance to design a shoe of their own, with the most promising design selected to be produced and sold internationally. “All 225 kids from the school, ranging from Kindergarten to 8th grade, submitted a drawing of their dream sneakers using the Koio silhouettes,” Koio co-CEO Johannes Quodt explained. But it was 14-year-old Shazia Rahman whose design stood out from the rest.
For the contest, Rahman, an 8th grader, submitted an off-shoot of the brand’s popular Capri sneaker. To put her own spin on the minimal silhouette, she added an iridescent snakeskin siding, a blush-colored tint, rose gold piping, and, as an added touch, the signatures of her classmates throughout the inside.
To choose the winner, Koio gathered a handful of industry insiders, from former Refinery29 fashion editor Michelle Li to renowned tattoo artist JonBoy. “I chose this shoe because it reminded me of my favorite childhood book called The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister,” Li said. “It really took me back to elementary school and the magic of watching the librarian read the book to us and being so mesmerized by the glittery scales.”
As an added bonus, the winner also got to work with the school administration to decide where the donations and profits from the contest would go. “Shazia wanted to help her school build out new arts offerings as well as fund creative programs and initiatives,” Chris Wichert, the second half of Koio’s CEO duo, said. “The school is now home to a hydroponics lab where vegetables are grown and an imaginative curriculum augmented by trips to nearby museums.”
Unlike brands that rely on collaborations to amp up press and sales, Koio has other motivations. “Through collaborations, we hope to help inspire students to pursue creative outlets, discover their talents, and actively make one student's creative vision a reality.”
For every pair of Shazia’s shoes that are purchased, 100% of the net profits will be donated to P.S. 149 Sojourner Truth. So whether you’re in need of a last-minute holiday gift or just want a replacement for your junky old sneakers, the Koio x P.S. 149 collab is a feel-good buy that you won’t regret.