When it comes to luxury footwear, the performance sneaker category often gets overlooked. While we may splurge on designer stiletto heels or exotic skin leather boots to make a high-end style statement, we often settle for mainstream brands when it comes to casual wear. Enter Courser, a burgeoning sneaker brand founded by industry veteran Johnny Kraljevich, who spent over 25 years of his career creating clout for legacy labels like Ralph Lauren and Coach.
At $595 a pop, Courser sneakers don’t come cheap, but that’s entirely intentional. Handcrafted in Italy in small batches, Courser delivers a meticulous blend of artistry and innovation — resulting in a rare footwear experience designed to enhance any lifestyle effortlessly. The shoes are made of the finest, most supple materials that conform to your feet combined with striking design elements like metallic touches, hand-selected animal skin trims, and bold, brilliant colors, to name a few.
At first glance, Courser seamlessly fills a void in the luxury space by defining a new direction in the footwear category, but we had a hunch that Kraljevich had a bigger story to tell. Keep reading to learn more from the visionary on how he got his start and where he wants to take the future of footwear.
– Tell us about your background as a creative director and founder of Courser. How did you get started?
After graduating art school at the University of Michigan, I was fortunate to start my career designing performance and lifestyle sneakers for some cool brands. I moved to New York City and transitioned into the fashion world where I got immersed in the luxury market and Italian production. At some point it made sense to combine both of my experiences into Courser.
– You have a lot of experience in footwear. In your opinion, what was missing in the sneaker market?
There is great creativity and interest in sneakers today. They are a cultural touchpoint. I think what’s often missing is understanding the levels of craftsmanship. The same people who obsess over the smallest stitch detail or material change on a $100 sneaker may not be aware of just how much better a shoe can be when made with superior materials by highly skilled labor. It’s significant. We wanted to bring that level of craft into our sneakers.
– Courser sneakers retail for $595. Tell us about the craftsmanship, quality, and design. Which pair is your favorite?
The Courser Uno went through years of design, development, and improvement. We continue to improve it every time we go into a new production cycle. We are fortunate to work with some of the best factories in the Tuscany region, who have crafted impeccable footwear through generations. The time and skill it takes to make one pair of Unos is a considerable part of our process. We don’t like to take short cuts. At the moment my favorite pair is the White Monos, but the Golden Haze Monos are a fast second.
– Courser shoes are unlike anything I’ve laid eyes on before. What makes them the perfect sneaker?
We worked hard to design a shoe that wasn’t derivative to what was already out there. We wanted it to be unique in its aesthetic as well as its make up. Our method is to take performance technology and innovation and use it to enhance the luxury experience. Everyone’s idea of perfection is different, but we wanted to offer something made up of very considered choices knowing that it would give people a better experience.
– The brand’s motto is “where performance meets luxury.” Describe who you are designing for?
We like the idea of performance-enhanced luxury. It allows us to think outside the confines of both performance and luxury footwear to make something extraordinary. The target consumer is more of a connoisseur. Someone who is meaningful in the products they choose to make a part of their lives. They want something different, and they want something better. We are overwhelmed by the support we have received in prominent circles of celebrity, whether fashion, sports, business, or music. We wouldn’t like to name drop at this time, but definitely keep your eyes open.
– How will you innovate and evolve as a brand next?
Courser has always been a brand concept. Footwear is our strength and we will continue to build on that, but our philosophy can be applied to any product. We will push ourselves and our partners to elevate our mix of performance innovation and luxury so that the brand continues to offer compelling and relevant items. It’s a pursuit. We’ll continue to improve the Uno and are also excited to bring some new ideas to the market in the Fall and Spring. Our goal is to be a desired, meaningful part of people’s lives and wardrobes and we are very grateful to anyone who gives us a chance.