A few short years ago, custom sneakers were relegated to online forums, a few books and sneaker magazines, and niche sites like this one. There were a handful of talented customizers who managed to break into the mainstream with pop culture-themed pairs and high profile clients, but custom culture was still dismissed as a hobby or a passing fad. These days, stocking Angelus products in your store is like printing money, and everyone and their mother is a fan of (or player in) the custom game. The love for customs was at an all-time high inside the Jacob Javits Center in New York City over the weekend at Sneakercon NYC.
Going into the event, I expected to see a couple customizers with vendor booths and a few people reselling the more hyped custom releases of the past 6 months (there were at least three pairs of the John Geiger x TheShoeSurgeon “Misplaced Checks” Air Force Ones floating around), but the turn out was much greater. Mache partnered with Samsung to create a series of Galaxy S6-themed shoes. Samples of the customs were on display at a special MetroPCS stage, where sneakerheads could enter to win a pair and also meet and take photos with Mache and DJ Funkmaster Flex.
Elsewhere in the convention center was an Ace of Customs art pit, where Dez Customs and KreativeCustomKicks participated in a live FREEstyle Challenge (meaning some lucky people walked away with free customs).
In the vendor section, Ecentrik Artistry, Revive Customs, The Heyy Man, Fowler Customs and Stomping Ground Customs of SoleSmithNYC, JustWinCustoms, and DEADSTK each set up shop to show off their work and connect with future customers, while artist FreeHandProfit chopped up sneakers live, Kickstradomis signed autographs, and the Staple booth showed off custom Pigeon-inspired pairs by Sab One and a couple others.
Several established and emerging customizers met for the first time at the event after following each other’s work on the Internet, and a few young fans asked artists to pose for Instagram photos. Seeing the level of respect that the sneaker world now has for custom sneakers was shocking, and the quality of work on display at the convention was refreshing (given the overwhelming number of struggle customs that flood our feeds every day).
Check out our photo recap below of most of the custom sneakers we saw at the busy event.
All images via @laptop_lasane