By Krysten Brenlla
This Miami-based startup is stepping into the future of dance – and it is redefining the art form, as we know it.
“I actually launched Fuego in 2019, but we really picked up steam in 2020, right in the middle of the pandemic,” said Kevin Weschler, founder and CEO of Fuego, a Miami-based brand of premium dance sneakers. “Dance studios were closed, but you can’t keep a dancer still – they were dancing on other surfaces and environments, so we wanted to create a sneaker that was functional for dancers to wear and use anywhere.”
The idea for Fuego came through Weschler’s own experience dancing salsa and bachata. He wanted a functional dance shoe that could be used anywhere, even off the dance floor – but, after looking extensively for a shoe that was functional and fashionable for daily wear, he couldn’t find one, and saw that there was a need in the industry.
“What makes Fuego unique is its patented outsole technology made specifically for dancers,” said Weschler, in an interview with Refresh Miami. “Our sneakers include pivot points to help with spins and turns, and it also has a sole that is engineered for dance on any surface – including hardwood, tile, carpet, concrete/gravel, marley dance floors, and grass – which is proven to help alleviate knee and joint pain that dancers often experience.”
Since its inception in 2019, the company has launched 14 dance sneakers using its patented technology; 3 different collections, including a split-sole collection; and has sold sneakers to customers in more than 120 countries worldwide. In addition, the sneaker company prides itself in its unique collaborations with professional dancers and performers.
The company’s most recent collaboration launched in partnership with Jade Chynoweth, a world-class hip-hop and contemporary dancer best known for her roles in movies like Step Up and the 2016 film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
The new shoe, dubbed the Jade x Fuego, is a low-top dance sneaker completely made with recycled plastic water bottles. Although all of the Fuego shoes are vegan, the Jade x Fuego shoe is the company’s first collection made completely with recyclable materials.
“We’ve always wanted to launch a shoe using 100 percent recyclable materials, and so when we locked our partnership with Jade, it made perfect sense,” Weschler said. “Jade is very ‘earthy,’ she loves nature and the planet, so we felt this was the perfect opportunity to launch our first-ever sneaker made completely out of recycled water bottles.”
And, if you look closely, the newly launched sneakers contain a piece of the actress and professional dancer in every single pair – a jade stone, which for her, represents feeling grounded and balance.
“I wanted to create something with Fuego that was comfortable, yet stylish, and something that grounds you,” said Chynoweth in a Fuego press release. “I imagine everybody wearing this sneaker; it’s not just for dancers.”
When asked why Weschler chose to come back to his hometown to launch the startup, he had only one word in mind: community.
“I think there’s such a good energy in Miami right now; it feels like everyone is working toward the same goal, which is making Miami pop off within the startup, tech, and VC scene,’ Weschler continued.
“The name ‘Fuego’ itself is so Miami; it’s very on-brand for this community, which is so collaborative – everyone is working toward the same goal and will go out of their way to help you.”
For the future, Fuego is finalizing a new collaboration, featuring a shoe that is aesthetically different from any other shoe they have launched.
“We want to create products using technology that will solve problems for dancers across different dance styles,” Weschler said. “Through Fuego, we want to make sure we’re being inclusive and that we’re catering to everyone while meeting all of the needs of every dancer out there.”
From left to right: Jaila Johnson – marketing specialist, Fuego; Kevin Weschler – founder and CEO, Fuego; Jade Chynoweth – dancer/actress, Jade x Fuego collaborator; Carlito Olivero – dancer/actor; Leah Lapic – director of marketing, Fuego.
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