Founder and creator of Radii (ray-dee-eye) Footwear, Casey Arisohn knows sneakers. With design lines boasting bad-ass names like Straight Jackets, Stranglers and Thrillers, itâ€™s no surprise these hip pieces have aroused attention from music moguls and fashion-forward dudes and divas the world over. Still in his mid-twenties, this sneakerhead got going in the industry early on. A little over a year ago he made a move and branched out on his own. Now heâ€™s sitting pretty and sharing shelf space with myriad top brands, from Cr8tive Recreation to Alife, Reebok to adidas. Stiff competition? Hardly. Looks like this California dreamer has the right attitude. See what we mean by reading on.
“We went from being a brand that no one had ever heard of, with a few people seeing potential in us, to having an icon like Jay-Z wearing our shoes.”
Format: Tell me a little bit about your background, how you got started in the shoe biz?
Casey Arisohn: I was born and raised in Huntington Beach, which is basically the hub of the action sports industry. I grew up with the ownersâ€™ sons of an iconic shop in Huntington, so I started in retail as soon as I turned 16. Iâ€™ve always been a shoe guy. Some people like sunglasses or watches; Iâ€™ve always been a sneakerhead. Most people that know me will attest to me having too many shoes to even fit in my closet.
Format: My friends could say the same, though less sneakers, more vintage high heels. So, what inspires you?
Casey Arisohn: Iâ€™m influenced by other shoes. Anybody in the shoe game is. Itâ€™s our passion. Right now, Iâ€™m into Christian Dior, Android Homme and Common Projects. Iâ€™m influenced by history. Fashion trends from different eras [hint at] where the new era is headed.
Format: Viewing the current collection live online, the look is Ã¼ber urban. As it stands, these shoes are awesome, but not always 9-5 appropriate, unfortunately.
Casey Arisohn: I agree with you. These are not always 9-5 appropriate if youâ€™re a suit-and-tie type person. Itâ€™s all perspective. They are 9-5 for athletes, entertainers and young entrepreneurs. We are striving to take over the shoe market, so, for the future, there will be more clean, mature styles that will cater to the true 9-5 person. Weâ€™re taking baby steps. Weâ€™re still a brand new company.
Format: Despite being little more than a year old, I understand the brand has done quite well. Can you comment on this success?
Casey Arisohn: I am slightly pessimistic when in comes to forecasting. I am hard on myself and would rather be pleasantly surprised than let down. That being said, our first year of business has surpassed my expectations. We went from being a brand that no one had ever heard of, with a few people seeing potential in us, to having an icon like Jay-Z wearing our shoes. The even better news is our sell-throughs have been out of control. Accounts are re-ordering weekly, until weâ€™re completely sold out.
Format: Thatâ€™s stellar news. Congrats! So, how does it make you feel to see Jay-Z and The Black Eyed Peas, among others, rocking your designs? Who else has been caught donning Radii?
Casey Arisohn: It was pretty crazy to hear that Jay-Z had bought two pairs of our shoes and was wearing them on tour. We have tons of celebrities wearing our shoes. We have athletes, from Martellus Bennett (Dallas Cowboys) to Ryan Grant (Green Bay Packers) to Joba Chamberlain (New York Yankees), and many more.
Format: What sets you apart from the competition?
Casey Arisohn: I really listen to my customers. We donâ€™t have egos here. We donâ€™t think weâ€™re going to design something that only we like and then try to force customers to buy the product. We make what our customers want. This is the reason weâ€™ve been so successful. From our prices [$80-$120] to our styles, I think you can see what sets us apart from the competition at first sight.
Format: What has the response been from skaters? Are these skate-friendly shoes?
Casey Arisohn: We have a great response from the skate customers. By no means are we producing skate shoes. We donâ€™t spend any more on R & D to help develop shoes that are skate-able. We donâ€™t target any skate shops as our retailers either. That said, we make very comfortable shoes. You can skate in our shoes and they would hold up pretty well. We have a handful of skate stores that carry our shoes and they do very well. We have that crossover customer.
Format: Who are your biggest customers?
Casey Arisohn: Our biggest customers are the streetwear customers. Itâ€™s definitely a sneakerhead type following we have right now. The U.S. is still our best country, but our Korean distributors opened up a Radii store in Seoul. And Japan does very well with our kicks too. They are more edgy when it comes to fashion, so they donâ€™t hesitate when they see the bright colors.
Format: In general, which style is the most popular?
Casey Arisohn: To date, our 420 Top is the best selling style weâ€™ve had, but that is also due to the fact it has been in the line since the first season. Our Straight Jackets have done very well, even at the higher price point ($120). For Holiday weâ€™ve had a huge buzz on our Timeless Deluxe style, so weâ€™ll see how it sells over Christmas.
Format: Are the Thrillers named after MJ?
Casey Arisohn: Actually, yes. They were named long before he passed, though. Our shoes remind me of the 80s and that vibe. We have some cool throwback names in our new line too.
Format: Have you considered creating a vegan version?
Casey Arisohn: We are constantly working with new materials and styles that will help us broaden our customer base. We havenâ€™t specifically set forth to make a vegan shoe yet, but Iâ€™m sure itâ€™s only a matter of time. If our customers want it, who are we to deny them what they want?
Format: Do you plan to branch out into other accessories or clothing?
Casey Arisohn: Eventually, yes. Weâ€™d like to be a well-rounded accessory company. My vision is to have pieces that donâ€™t say â€˜Radiiâ€™ all over them. Weâ€™d rather make amazing pieces where people have to ask you what youâ€™re wearing because itâ€™s so dope. Iâ€™m talking jackets, wallets, hats, bags.
Format: Speaking of the new line, whatâ€™s next?
Casey Arisohn: Weâ€™re just going to continue to try to make shoes that are fun. Weâ€™re really excited for what 2010 has in store for us. Weâ€™ve got some new materials and color combos that will have heads spinning. Weâ€™re going to add more business casual shoes to the line to help diversify and gain more followers. We have some stuff in store. I canâ€™t give it all up, though. We have to keep you wanting more. Iâ€™ll end withâ€¦stay tuned!
More Info: www.radiifootwear.com