Freedom: a simple two-syllable word with such a subjective, complex meaning. In 2019’s divisive culture, it seems like freedom is an ideology far beyond reach to marginalized people. But as the old saying goes, when there is a will there is always a way to grace unbound self-expression—even if it’s through a minimally styled sneaker.
If you haven’t heard of CROSTY by now, you should get yourself acquainted with the brand. Created by brothers George and Shota Mikaia, the label was conceived with the idea of celebrating one’s freedom of expression. Through their childhood and adolescence in war-torn Georgia during the 1990s, the brothers were able to examine the nation’s blossoming evolution from turmoil to its current uprisal as Europe’s next big fashion capital. Thus, they tied their love of their heritage, the rebirthed beauty of Tbilisi, and soccer into a single athleisure-aesthetic shoe.
A genderless, subtle aesthetic rooted from the nation of Georgia, these sneakers are becoming a global phenomena for the hypebeast generation. Below, we talked to the Mikaia brothers about the inception of CROSTY, their inspirations, and more.
Why did you decide to create CROSTY?
George Mikaia: “In 2015, I decided to quit my job and start the brand. At the time, I was already working in the Georgian fashion industry, and there are so many talented designers in the country. But, I wanted to create a brand with values. I wanted to tell my story of freedom, and I wanted to share the story of Georgian freedom.”
Shota Mikaia: “It was initially George’s idea to create the sneakers in the vein that they’re in. We decided to create a luxury product with unlimited results, and we wanted to create the perfect quality for an international level. We were so excited to create this and show that we can portray our entire life and our country in one symbol.”
Who or what inspired you when you were creating the brand’s designs?
SM: “George previously worked with a Georgian designer to create the sneaker with crocodile leather, which is where we got the name “CROSTY” from. But the designer wanted to focus on a local market, whereas we wanted to go global. So we decided to take CROSTY in a new direction without the designer. The inspiration for the new model, “ONDA,” was created by George and I—especially on George’s end—on snowboarding. We would always go to the mountains and get inspiration from there. In Georgia, the energy and elegance of the mountain environment always inspired us, so we decided to tie in those elements with our latest design.”
Could you tell me a little more about your experience growing up in Georgia?
GM: “During teenage years I played football, or soccer as you call it in the US, a lot. Football helped me to develop creative mind and made me fall in love with activewear and sneakers of course. Then it was computers which got me into graphic design. My first interaction with fashion was designing athletic jerseys for different sports teams as a hobby. Later, I quit sports and became a full time graphic designer. As most graphic designers, I assume, I experimented with putting my designs on T-shirts. These experiments brought me closer to fashion. In 2015, I started creating sneakers.”
How has growing up in war-torn Georgia influenced your perspective on style, and the world as a whole?
GM: “We had to fight for survival and Georgia had to fight for freedom. The ‘90s were very tough. Our teenage years were spent in that cold, dark period where nothing happened and going out after dark was dangerous. The only positive thing in ‘90s was that people had plenty of time to interact, talk, and just be together. I think the love for minimalism was developed back then. I was always searching for new colors and opportunities, and in the end I developed freedom of mind and action.“
How would you describe the aesthetic of CROSTY?
GM: “Our design is simple and minimal, and relays the magic of our story, which roots from our heritage, our history, and the people of Georgia.”
GM: “To be free, you must be moving, and if you’re always moving, you definitely need a good pair of shoes. I played football when I was 10. I wanted to become a pro, but my life took a different turn. I started to look up to David Beckham: his style; his sportsmanship; it all inspired me. And through football, my love for sneakers also grew. Football is my favorite sport, and I decided to create sneakers that I could play in while being able to tie them to my wardrobe.”
How has the modern evolution of Tbilisi as a fashion capital inspired you and CROSTY?
GM: “It’s played a significant role in my motivation. It gave me courage to pursue the goal. Looking at so many great designers putting great products and having positive feedback from the best names in the industry just adds more wood to the fire and keeps you going. Tbilisi is a very beautiful and inspiring city by itself.”
What’s next for CROSTY?
SM: “In May, we’re launching our new product, running sneakers called DRO. They’re going to tell a very interesting story, but we’re keeping that aspect under wraps for now. We’re going to present the collection at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi in May. We’re very excited about it!”