The art of shoe customizing..has been around as a step by step or organized process since at least the early to mid 1980s. Many of the shoes that are customized today and over the past 10 years are models that originally released in the 1980s or earlier like the Nike Dunk and Air Force 1, Adidas Superstar or the Vans Slip On. The current state of shoe customizing with detailed graphics, shoes completely reconstructed with new materials, and even being a full time gig for a few people was sparked essentially through one of the Internets most used form of communication called a “forum” aka a messageboard.
Custom sneakers, a subculture within a subculture that being the sneaker collector subculture(arguably) started sprouting up on the most well known sneaker forum called NikeTalk after the demise of another small Nike fan forum around 1999-2000. From that point on the art form grew as did the amount of sneaker forums each time with “Customs” or “Sneaker Art” as just another section where the main focus of the site was for people that wanted to talk about shoes you can get at a mall, eBay, or some uppity sneaker “boutique.” The one exception was a forum created by Methamphibian, an artist who made his name know through custom sneakers, which only lasted from around 2002 until a year or two tops. So for years after that the shoe customizer and custom shoe enthusiasts have gathered on a few forums cramming all the information into one section. But now there is space to breath. That space can be found at the newly created www.CustomSneakerForum.com the first forum dedicated solely to shoe customization since 2003.
For the opening of the site I took a few minutes to ask fellow shoe customizer and creator of the forum Sekure D, some questions about the site and what may be in store?
PaintOrThread: How long has this forum really been needed?
Sekure D: I would like to say its always been needed since there hasn’t been a custom specific forum structure online before but I think more realistically about a year. Customizers in general have moved on from the large sneaker forums for one reason or another so its exciting to have a place to get everyone back together.
P: Agreed. What areas of discussion and info can visitors to the forum come across?
S: so for now for the first time online we have broken down customizing into categories to more clearly demonstrate the diversity in work people put out as well as have a section for beginners to get help and tips from more experienced artists. Another cool feature will be the interviews section, we have a brief interview with customizing legend SBTG up at the moment but there will also be more to follow. To accompany this there is a section for guides and FAQs and a competition section which we hope to get up and running in the near future. These are the focus areas for the forum but like any good forum there is additional areas to cover common interest and similar arts.
P: Everyone knows any successful forum on the Internet takes a few volunteers to help run the forum, keep spam down and everything civil. Who can visitors expect to see doing this and whats their title?
S: So far we have some amazing mods involved in the board but I will definitely need a few more in the near future to help out. At the moment we have myself obviously, Diversitile, JBF and thankfully you good sir to help out. Between us we have a vast knowledge base as well as forum experience so things should run smoothly. A few new members will be added to the team in the coming weeks so stay tuned!
P: I look forward being to help out and grow the forum. It is still early but what do you think this type of open resource could do for custom shoes? Well lots of shoe customizing information is already open to whomever can find it online…so let me restate that…up to date and growing open resource?
S: I have maintained since I started customizing in 2006 that custom sneakers are an art form and I don’t believe there should be any question about that. Undoubtedly with the efforts of some great artists over the last decade and with blogs like this people have slowly begun to recognize this and things have been changing for the better. No doubt people have noticed the amount of customs being posted on some of the best sneaker sites on the net such as Sneaker Freaker and Sneakernews just to name a couple. Having a growing open resource for customizers like this can essentially provide a one stop shop for people to check up on work and be involved in the scene without having to spread themselves so thin across the internet. My main hope and drive for this forum is to have created a place for mature, respectful and helpful discussion that helps drive creativity and take custom sneakers to the next level once again.
P: That is definitely same type of goal I have had for PaintOrThread.com since I started it in 2009 and this will be a great resource to send people with questions to. Of course anyone could have all the information in the world and secret formulas and step by step guides but that doesn’t mean they’ll be some master shoe customizer just from the info. What is it in your opinion that has kept people customizing and been some reason custom shoes have started to pave their own path?
S: No doubt, I like to think that when it comes to customs experimentation is the best way to learn but having these guides will be an amazing resource for up and comers and new customizers to utilize, I am sure guys like bLue, EL, Mache etc etc would have LOVED guides when they were starting out but to help and provide information doesn’t as you say guarantee success for an individual. For me the customs that stand out are those with outstanding composition and creativity not always the most detailed or those with the most hours invested.
I think people continue to custom due to wanting products that nobody else has or just to stand out and feel that sense of satisfaction you get from creating something new and original. In a culture that prides itself on exclusivity and limited edition releases is there really anything more limited then a custom sneaker that could be a world wide one of a kind? The fashion market is cyclical and maybe the time of customs being very popular is coming back around or maybe people are just getting sick of paying $600USD for a release on eBay when there is 2000+ units available on the market. Whatever it is the scene is strong, creative and supportive and hopefully it continues on this track and only gets stronger.
Well there it is. If you have any interest in the main topic of this site whether it be customizing shoes yourself or you just love a unique design take 1 minute to sign up over at: