Culture, Travel & Sport

The Georgian sneakers spreading a message of freedom and hope

Since its conception in 2015, Georgian sneaker brand Crosty has been making waves in the fashion industry. Created by two brothers, George and Shota Mikaia, Crosty’s ethos goes beyond fashion. Rather, it explores the medium of design through symbolism evoking a powerful narrative that speaks of progress, modernity and most importantly freedom. 

Growing up in Georgia, the pair have a unique personal understanding of freedom in its most fundamental form.

“For us, freedom is not an abstract concept, it is a way of life. Our motivation, the way we see and react to certain events in our lives, is reflected in our thinking and perception,” George Mikaia tells Emerging Europe.

For years, Georgia was shaped by conflict, and the brothers’ home region of Abkhazia was hardest hit. Yet these difficulties also provided an unrivalled understanding of creativity and freedom.

“From childhood, we saw many difficulties that led us to this vision, where freedom is the most important value,” continues George. “I would say that wars and difficulties affected many people in Georgia, time taught us that we must fight for our freedom of choice, which, apparently, was taken away in Soviet times. The new generation had to use their creative thinking to create something new, with very limited resources that we had because of the wars. I think this is the reason why we have a lot of creative and talented people in Georgia nowadays.” 

For the brothers behind Crosty, freedom is why they founded the business. They provided a guiding light in the struggle for freedom and their strong belief of individual liberty and the responsibility that comes with that is what sets the brand’s philosophy apart.

This is a message that the Mikaia brothers have taken with them into every aspect of Crosty, with Freedom inscribed on almost every pair of the brand’s shoes using the unique Georgian alphabet, symbolic of individuality. 

The designs of each shoe are harmoniously modern, yet clean, expressive and electrically bright. George tells Emerging Europe that  “delivering the right messages to customers is more important than trends.”

In an industry so heavily dictated to by fast consumption, celebrity style and ever-changing fads, this self affirmative belief in the brand as a stand alone, rather than a product of the industry is what truly sets it apart.

“Today, customers choose brands not only by design or product quality, they choose brands whose values they share. Crosty designs are influenced by the brand philosophy. In each collection I try to express the brand’s values and deliver a vision that we could share with our customers,” explains George.

For example, Crosty’s latest DRO collection is named after the Georgian word დრო, meaning timeand takes inspiration from time in its design. The handwritten packaging aims to reminds customers that “time is the most important resource they have, and they should use it with care.”

With this ethos, the brand has flourished. It has been endorsed by the likes of Forbes, Vogue and HighSnobiety and worn by celebrities such as American basketball star Stephen Curry.

George says that he has always had an interest in starting a sneaker brand, but it wasn’t all easy sailing.

“At school I used to draw very well and always wanted to create something new to express myself, but I never thought that it could be sneakers. My first attempt at fashion was in 2009, when I tried to create a streetwear brand, but it ended in failure. I always liked sneakers, and after a few years I decided to design sneakers in my friend’s little atelier, and I really liked to do it.”

It is always a gamble launching a brand and engaging with a global audience, particularly with the US market from Georgia, Crosty however has proven that it is possible. 

“Georgia is an ideal place for a good start. It’s easy to do business here, you can create a company in a few days, there are no complicated tax rules and administrative expenses are much lower than in EU or the US,” Shota Mikaia tells Emerging Europe. 

Shota explains that from the outset, the brand looked to go global, setting them apart from their competitors and enabling a unique understanding of customer needs, as well as the importance of product quality and ethos. 

“I think what makes Crosty truly unique in the industry is the story of every product that inspires design, lines and colours. We are trying to create an impression that applies not only to wearing beautiful sneakers, but also to reminding our customers of the important values that we share with them,” George says. 

And for Crosty, this is just the beginning, with big things in store for 2020.

“This year we plan to expand our collection with new models and colourways. We are also considering options for adding vegan materials to our collections as we think more about brand sustainability,” says Shota.

“We are also actively working to increase the number of sale spots in the United States and EU. This is not an easy task, but we know that we are on the right path.”