emmanueLabor’s Favorite Custom Sneakers from 2011

The year of 2011 saw over 130 posts on PaintOrThread.com, 97% of which were dedicated to one pair of custom sneakers. There was definitely some pairs missed along the way that will eventually see their own post along with even more to be made in 2012 by people all over the world. Instead of giving you my list of top custom sneakers from 2011 I reached out to some of the most dedicated shoe customizers for their opinion on what made an impact in 2011. Take a look at what veteran customizer emmanueLabor thought of customs created in 2011.

I wanna preface this by saying these aren’t necessarily the ten BEST, but rather 10 I liked the most.

At #10 I’m gonna go with a tie..so already, I guess this is my favorite 11 customs?  But the True Blue VI by El Cappy Customz & the VI Black cement print by IVII make the list. The simplicity of these is so dope. Of all the Jordan hybrid stuff customizers have been pumpin’ out, these seem like a great concept.

At #9, Im going with the NERF Lebron 9’s by Mache Custom Kicks. I LOVE the colors of the KD 4s, but I dont really care for the Lebron 9s.  But I HAD to include this shoe cause they sold for 4 G’s! FOUR THOUSAND DOLLARS! Wow. For one pair of shoes. That is awesome in and of itself.  Need I say more?

For #8, Im gonna go with Sab-1’s 7ave customs.  I think I really like these because they’re customs on Jordans, but aren’t at all Jordan related. That kind of rebellion screams graffiti to me, an the fact that these are graff inspired makes it that much more perfect. The artwork on these is sick and I really dig them as I’ve been getting more into graff and street art this year.

With #7, I’m gonna roll with the C4 x Mayhem Lebron 8 All Star Graf customs. The shoe that inspired these is one of my grails, and these came out looking sick.  I also like that they replaced Nikes graff with their own, to make these more personal, which is the root of customs anyway. Great job.

For #6, I’m gonna rock with Swaves Beatles “LOVE” Cirque du Soleil Vol. 2 Nike Dunks. This guy is a BEAST with the cleanliness. His line work always LOOKS like it was done with stencils, but I’ve been assured that it’s all freehand. Unless you’ve painted freehand or with stencils, you might not fully respect what these entail. On top of all that they just came out dope looking, so they make my list.

#5 has gotta be ChrisCo’s Boba Fett Nike Dunks. Call me biased if you want, because I am an admitted Star Wars fanboy, but fanboy or not, these are so well done. The coloring, the scarring, the layout, the insoles…all combine to make a great custom.

#4 is JBF’s Jet Life Nike Blazers.  The buzz around these was, and still is, huge. I personally dont know much about JetLife or Curren$ey or snapbacks (inside joke), but the impact of these shoes is undeniable. Green suede, cool. Custom tags, cool. Glow in the Dark, really cool. But my favorite aspect has to be the Swooshes converted into jets with smoke trails.

#3The Shoe Surgeons Pendleton Supra Skytop III.  He took a pair of Supras and completely remade them into BOOTS! BOOTS!!! The leather combined with the wool fabric looks so effin crazy.  That alone put these high on my list…but then the fact that he took a performance shoe and converted it to a boot? Insane.

#2, I’m gonna be biased again, but hey, its my list. Diversitiles Cookie Monster Nike Dunks. I love Cookie Monster..actually I love cookies, and so people always compare me to the cookie monster, and its stuck with me for years. These shoes look like they glued actual cookies to the sides lol. Their work with textures is unmatched. Couple that with the perfect base shoe, and you have custom perfection.

And for #1…..again with the bias……MY, yes MY own, Venice Beach Nike Kobe VI. Lol. I’ll speak in 3rd person for a moment. I feel what makes some of eL’s stuff cool is that he implements real stuff whenever possible….in this case sand from Venice Beach.  The meticulously applied sand to each scale probably took forever. The colors really work well with this theme with the glass blue midsole representing the Pacific Ocean, the ice sole representing the clear skies, and of course the sand tan upper.  Keep your South Beach customs, give me Venice Beach. Lol.

I gotta say this year was big for shoe customizing….we got a ton more exposure, which is great. Some might think of it as the year of the South Beach.  Thats not far from true.  Even though (as far as I know) I did the first pair of SB inspired customs in 2011, I actually hate them now lol. I feel they’re so unimaginative and impersonal now, and just a way to make quick $.  I get that none of us do this for free, but I woulda liked a lil more diversity. I also feel this is the year of the Air Jordan VI.  I’ve never seen this many Jordans customized, and the VI seemed to be the model of choice. I have to give a nod to Mizzee Customs.  I feel he got that ball rolling, and really the customizing of performance shoes in general with his customizing Lebron 7’s and 8’s, as well as Jordan VI’s. We saw Kobe VI’s, Lebron 8’s, and now 9’s rolling in too, and its great to see that we’re no longer stuck on Dunks, Air force 1’s and Blazers exclusively. Sole dyeing is taking off, and I love it.  Impeccable’s Toxic Dunks with the leopard soles…WOW! I have a sneaking suspicion Foamposite customs will become more prevalent too.  We’ve had a number of Foam customs in 2011 and I feel like more are on the way in 2012 *hint hint*

Big THANKS to eL for taking the time to break down his favorite custom sneakers from 2011. Checkout more of his work via his site: emmanueLabor.com