KOIO vs. Esquivel Shoes: What’s the difference?

With sneakers as popular as ever and a footwear market feeding that demand, it can be difficult to decipher one brand’s offer from another, particularly when they’re not jarringly different in style.

If you’re committed to the clean sneaker look, you might be considering a purchase from at least a couple of brands. Perhaps you’re thinking about a pair of sneakers from KOIO, as they’ve recently garnered a following of minimalists. However, Esquivel Shoes offer some subtle touches that are unique to the brand.

If you haven’t yet decided on the best minimalistic luxury sneaker for you, this post is for you. So, without further adieu, here are the differences between KOIO shoes and Esquivel Shoes.

KOIO: A 21st-century brand whose sharp minimalist sneakers are strikingly similar to its competitors

Before we get into the details of the shoes, here’s some background on the brand: KOIO is the brainchild of German natives Johannes Quodt and Chris Wichert. The duo founded the label in 2015 as MBA students at The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, a decade after modern sneaker extraordinaire Common Projects® was established. Headquartered in New York City with production in Italy, KOIO offers a line of handmade sneakers for minimalists, thanks to a simple approach to design (e.g., clean lines and a mostly muted color palette with an emphasis on monochromatism) that makes each pair of KOIO shoes easy to dress up or down.

In terms of silhouettes, KOIO sneakers are a mix of high tops and low tops. The brand’s Capri sneaker, which editors have deemed a great choice if you’re looking for a classic white sneaker, is the simplest design in the collection and comes in a slew of other easy-to-wear colors, like mossy green, dusty rose and navy blue. Meanwhile, the Retro Runner is a modern take on a classic runner, with a cleaner sensibility for a very streamlined look.

Price-wise, KOIO offers great options for those channeling luxurious minimalism for a lesser price (roughly $150 to $200 less) than major competitors like Common Projects and Golden Goose®. According to its website, KOIO shoes are made in similar high-end factories with premium Italian leather for its styles, and they offer great support (e.g., extra heel padding).


Esquivel: A modern footwear and accessory brand channeling casual sophistication and fair pricing

Esquivel was founded about 20 years ago based on a love and appreciation for the handmade and made-to-order shoe processes. It started small and grew steadily, as those at the helm kept in mind that rapid growth could mean losing the integrity of the business, which was handcrafting high-quality shoes for select retailers and private clients throughout the world, with an emphasis on personalization.

Esquivel loves the personalized experience that comes with specializing primarily in handmade and made-to-order shoe-making. The materials used are on par with other luxury sneaker brands, but the price points are lower. Like KOIO sneakers, Esquivel sneakers generally run less than the competition without sacrificing modernity or comfort, because a supreme handmade sneaker shouldn’t cost you the same as, say, a dress shoe or boot. They’re not the same!

Other companies use less refined materials, like cardboard and sponge, for insoles. However, this sacrifices comfort and quality for the consumer. Founder George Esquivel maintains that leather insoles are the best at providing maximum comfort, supreme quality and, as a result, the best possible value for a pair of shoes. Sneakers should feel as comfortable as bedroom slippers from your first time wearing them.

The Takeaway

Each brand has its appeal and value. Something I say pridefully is that these respective brands are very well-made, as they (we) use handmade techniques cultivated over many years. From an aesthetic perspective, we each have our own, though I like to think we’ve both bred our brands from our senses of innovation and wearability. KOIO is extremely modern and minimalistic, while I still tend to take a more playful, vintage-inspired approach to shoe design by incorporating color, mixing texture and experimenting with finishes. But frankly, in purchasing a pair of luxury handmade sneakers, you can’t go wrong with either brand, as both are designed with timelessness and suitability in mind.


Ready to order a pair of luxury sneakers?

As always, these are just guidelines for purchasing luxury sneakers. With over 20 years in the fashion industry, Esquivel Shoes takes pride in being a valuable resource for shoppers. To learn more about our own sneaker collection or any other products we offer, send us a message through this link. We’re here to give you peace of mind and help you find the best sneakers for you.

George Esquivel

George Esquivel

George is a Southern California-based designer and craftsman who designed his first pair of shoes in 1994 and began honing his craft thereafter. For over 20 years, he’s operated his namesake brand, Esquivel, which specializes in handmade shoes and accessories. In the last decade, George served as Creative Director of renowned luxury bag and luggage brand Tumi Inc. and as Creative Consultant for Italian heritage brand Fratelli Rossetti, and has collaborated with many others for his own brand. George was a 2009 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist, and has been a CFDA member since 2010. When he’s not working alongside his team of artisans at his atelier, Esquivel House, in Downtown Los Angeles, George is enjoying time with his wife and high school sweetheart, Shelley, and their three grown children. He also loves mountain biking and hosting good friends for dinners and fêtes.