Before KOKOLU was founded in 2018, Sarah, my co-founder, and I traveled to fashion capitals like Paris and Milan, to immerse ourselves and explore the reality, and the dream, of creating a vibrant and lasting brand for women. After watching tens of hundreds of fashion shows we asked ourselves, “Beside beauty itself, how else could fashion affect us as people?” and “Can we create fashion that does not negatively affect the environment?” We are both very environmentally minded and from the very beginning of KOKOLU, we were dedicated to making our shoes both gorgeous and sustainable. That’s how the KOKOLU journey started.
We were able to work with the New Material R&D Center to reinvent velvet by making it 100% sustainable. Then, with creativity and elegance, we integrated our luxurious velvet material into women’s footwear. We spent 6 months designing and polishing our first pair of velvet sneakers to highlight feminine charm, provide the coziest wearing experience, and be as earth-friendly as possible. It’s never an easy journey from idea to reality, but we did it, and we are more than proud.
Even as an entrepreneur from China, it was difficult to find a factory that wanted to put our dream and design of environmentally friendly shoes on their production line. After visiting all 50 factories on my list and being refused 50 times, we almost gave up. But my faith in our vision and the beautiful pile of design drawings in my hand kept me going long enough to meet Lucas. Lucas is an exceptional supply chain director who has been working in the shoe industry for over 20 years. We quickly bonded over our similar aspiration for making ambitious changes to the industry and becoming a leading brand in terms of sustainability. We made up our minds to pursue the shared dream, “Never Sacrifice Nature”, no matter how bumpy or arduous the journey would be. That has been our guiding intent since the very start. It is what’s been leading us now in the selecting of our material suppliers and it has guided us through the design and iteration of every single series.
The year 2019 witnessed the birth of KOKOLU shoes: K1.0. A bio-based outsole and an upper made from post-consumer plastic bottles was our very first series of velvet sneakers. KOKOLU is the first brand to only make responsible shoe products in China. The K1.0 sneakers received 90% positive feedback and loads of love from our female consumers, which, in turn, affirmed our confidence in the continuing journey to complete sustainability. And it has been truly worth all the efforts.
The pandemic hit the world in 2020 and most brands have had it tough, especially new and emerging brands. The loss and pain caused by the pandemic caused Lucas and me to reflect even deeper on our vision and intention. Nothing was going to stop us from making industry changes and helping to preserve our vulnerable mother earth. Changes will happen, are happening because we are taking personal responsibility, and so are many people. We are beginning to wake up around the globe to our roles in protecting our environment.
Our persistence and enthusiasm rewarded us with opportunities. Our story and our brand philosophy attracted the world’s leading certified “green” manufacturing partners in the industry. Together, with these most innovative factories, we were able to upgrade our K1.0 sneakers to K2.0, an even “greener” shoe!
We use recycled materials that are strictly researched and tested before they meet the most advanced manufacturing and creation techniques. Now you can find bamboo fiber in our shoe upper, corn stalk fiber in our lining, beech tree fiber in our shoelace, and even more renewable, recycled, and recyclable materials. When you see the small colorful particles in your outsole, you are seeing a brand’s pledge of offering you the most sustainable pair of sneakers available today. We invite you to join us on this journey, a journey that leads us all to a better and healthier future.
Being the first sustainable shoe brand in China has met us with serious challenges and that there are more to come. But, our passion for creating the most beautiful and eco-conscious shoes for consumers who are just as passionate as we are will never fade. We know more and more people agree too. We hope that includes you and that you trust KOKOLU to be a part of your eco-lifestyle journey.