Two brothers give iconic Czech sneaker brand new lease on life

Walking through the streets of Czechia, you might spot people sporting tri-coloured sneakers in the country’s national colours; blue, white, and red. Those kicks are from an iconic brand called Botas, originally founded in 1949. Last year, the company almost went under, but two brothers came to its rescue. I caught up with 22-year-old Vít Staněk to learn more about the plans to give this classic Czech brand a new lease on life.

“In 2023, the Botas company was about to be liquidated. My brother and I had a thought that maybe we could continue the legacy of this iconic brand. We decided we would do whatever it takes to buy this company and keep it alive.”

Vít Staněk | Photo: Amelia Mola-Schmidt,  Radio Prague International

But your family had no connection to the original brand?

“No, not at all.”

Why were you interested in acquiring it? Do you both just love shoes?

“Yes, I would say so. We both love shoes and sports, and Botas is a combination of those two things, so it’s really a perfect match for us.”

I was reading that in Czech, Botas has become a word to define a sports shoe, so it’s really a part of the vocabulary.

“Yes, it’s incredible. Even in Slovakia, Botas is a word for sneakers.”

How are you guys trying to market the brand to a younger audience? The brand has been around for 75 years, so I’m sure people have their assumptions about the shoes.

“Definitely, we really want to keep the brand alive, and part of that is being relevant to a younger audience, like Gen Z. We’ve done some redesigning to make the shoes trendier or more retro looking, so young people find them cool and want to buy them.”

Photo: Amelia Mola-Schmidt,  Radio Prague International

The tri-colour shoes almost look like a Nike Cortez shoe…

“Yes, I would say so too! And what is amazing is the fact that the Botas brand started even before Nike did, so it’s really incredible.”

What have been some of the challenges you and your brother have faced while getting the brand off the ground again?

“Firstly, of course getting money to buy the brand was the most important thing, which wasn’t easy. We made up a really cool promotion for customers, and people really went crazy for them. So we made some money for the acquisition from this, and we were able to start making our dream a reality. Now, it’s on us, but we’re really happy to be continuing this legacy, it’s absolutely amazing.”

I think to Czechs, supporting national brands is very important. It must feel like you’re doing something good for your country and the economy with Botas?

Photo: Amelia Mola-Schmidt,  Radio Prague International

“I think it’s so important to make our own things in Czechia, and to not only buy cheap things. We think that Czech manufacturers and Czech shoemakers are still good enough to be around, so it’s really important for us and for people in the country.”

Are there any exciting plans to change up the styles of the shoes or bring in new models of shoes?

“We have a new website that we will be launching in two or three weeks, and after that, big things will be happening. We collaborated with one really hype company from the Czech Republic that sells shoes, and we came up with some new models of shoes. I think it’s going to be really cool for young people, I’m so excited and can’t wait to launch it.”