If you payed any attention to custom sneakers in 2013 you probably felt a sense of growth. More than ever there were people going under the title of professional sneaker customizer and day by day others took a crack at painting some sneakers, taking apart some sneakers, or maybe stumbling on some new idea or technique that no one has yet to try. Everywhere you look more and more people and outlets are giving attention and respect to this art form.
The past 12 months have seen some pretty interesting customizations, trends, and much to be excited about as we look forward. But before you start looking ahead take some time check what I thought of as the most memorable as I reflected on the custom sneaker scene that was 2013.
This part 1 includes what stood out from a categorical standpoint. Whether you agree or disagree please share your thoughts in the comments, via email, or the various social media outlets.
MLB Customs In Game
These Huarache Nike cleats by Jacob Patterson for LA Dodgers’ Brian Wilson were the 2nd and 3rd pair made for the eccentric MLB pitcher. Patterson’s work on these are the definition of custom. All the details are personal to Wilson making him the only person that should wear these. The fact they were played in only makes the story sweeter.
When it comes to custom sneakers there might not be a bigger fan than the Boston Red Sox’s Shane Victorino. Well known and up-and-coming customizers have been commissioned by Victorino. So as the Red Sox made the 2013 World Series it was no surprise to see a pair of customized cleats being worn by Victorino. With MLB’s rules for players it was almost a lottery as we heard a few customizers work was to be worn….the winner you might say was Casey Custom Sneakers. Casey kept the design to the point with a patriotic Americana fabric attached. Oh and Victorino had 4 RBI’s helping clinch win the World Series against the Cardinals wearing them in game 6.
Social Media Snowball of the Air Jordan XI “Dirty Bred”
The power of social media was exemplified by this super simple idea executed by Noldo Customs. The look was what Nike first made upon a referee sample AJ XI low OG and later in samples of the XI mid and later saw customizers El Cappy and Mache take on. In March 2013 Noldo went ahead and painted the classic white midsoles of the AJ XI Playoff aka Breds all black. Seeing that the base shoe was released in enormous amounts just months before and had who knows how many restocks across various outlets the project inspired hundreds to give their shot at recreating the look. Impact of Social Media
As simple to overlook as it is…..not one single customization had more impact on giving others confidence to start customizing in 2013 than this pair…I’d argue none were even close. Memorable no doubt, one case when the actual custom becomes larger than the customizer.
Then a bunch of people copied each others Yeezy colorswaps to death. Just because you made another Yeezy colorway doesn’t mean its worth showing.
Dunk SB to Air Max 1 Colorswaps by Dank Customs
In 2013 Dank Customs had a slew of releases that fit into the hate it or love it category of colorswaps. The requirement for creativity isn’t as high as the colorway is already thought up for this type of customization but execution is. Layout and recreation of a well designed and easily recognizable look has to be on point. Dank just happened to kill it all upon the Air Max 1 in the following Nike Dunk SB colorways:
Inspired by the De La Soul Nike Dunk SB
Inspired by the Unkle Nike Dunk SB
The entry into being a reconstruction focused customizer has a bit of a steeper learning curve than that of painting. You start off with the classics AF1, Dunk, Adidas Superstars, Converse Chuck Taylors. Once you get those down the ability to take on a much more modern shoe is raised. As brands performance shoes today are all fuse this and molded that a good portion of 1990’s models are up for the taking. The few that I think stood out and just might not ever see attempted again are the following:
Detailed Hand Painting of: Swaves, Whats Shop, & MoreThanArtToWear
Anyone can copy a colorway, few can paint like a machine. As custom sneakers grow, the ability to create detail that looks as if it was printed by something man made will really start separating the good from the great. The top three from 2013 and going into the new year happen to be these fellows: Michael of Custom Swaves, Narin of Whats Shop, and J’Field of MoreThanArtToWear. All work here was either sketched in pencil first and then painted or just straight up painted all by hand.
The Brannock: Custom Sneaker & Art Show
Back in July the only gallery showing in 2013 centered around sneaker customization took place in Los Angeles. Curated thanks to the hustle of King of Sneakers the work included a bunch of artists…some who are known as sneaker customizers and others that jumped at the chance to use a pair of kicks as their canvas. This was the first gallery showing of it’s kind in a few years. Hopefully this sparks the concept for the future as it is one aspect the scene has yet to really take advantage of.
Check the full recap here: The Brannock
Return of the Full Size Run Offering
The idea is 10+ years old but hasn’t had a prominent place in the scene the past few years. The concept is to offer at least 12 pairs of the same completed design ready for purchase online or at a retail shop. Two of the most active customizers had the chance to offer their stylings in the limited run just weeks apart in November.
1 of 1 Themed Commissions Created by Mache
One of the reasons this guy is likely the most well known of all sneakers customizers is how he seems to put out new work faster than anyone. With a varying array of painted work that utilizes both the regular paintbrush and an air brush Dan of Mache Customs creates everything from simple colorways to pop culture themed ideas. As easy as it is to just go and paint a characters face upon a shoe, Mache tends to steer clear of that easy way out by giving the entire shoe details that represent the theme at hand. These five pairs just had to be mentioned:
Ghostbusters Nike Lebron 9 Elite
King Tutankhamun Nike Lebron X
Spawn Nike Lebron X
OZ Nike Lebron 9 Elite
Custom Sneakers the Center of Events
If you are into custom sneakers chances are the regular ones you can sometimes be lucky enough to buy online or at the mall have spawned sneaker events. Usually single day gatherings of sneaker heads in big cities(though 2013 saw a rise in smaller cities putting on events) setup for a buy/sell/trade with tables and tables of sneakers, “streetwear”, and other related items. The last quarter of the year saw a couple with custom sneakers as the focus.
Custom Kings Event in Washington, DC
This event was the first put on by this group with 3 customizers being invited to present a customization on a provided pair of Air Jordan 1s. The competition was made up of District Customs, Noldo Customs, and R2 Customs. The grand prize of $1,000 was awarded to Trevor of District Customs.
Ace of Customs at Sneaker Con NYC
Along the same lines of the other event this involved 3 customizers: Once again District Customs while Dez Customs and SmoothTip were the other participants. Instead of being given a few weeks to customize they had to do the majority of the work in person the day of Sneaker Con. They were only allowed to do minor preparations to the pair beforehand. The selected winner was Dez Customs.
Image via: Aceofcustoms
Collaborative Effort Customs in 2013
The concept of a collaboration in custom sneakers is nothing new. The two biggest names ever Methamphibian and SBTG broke open the idea well over 5 years ago upon the Nike Dunk and AF1. Since then just a bit of noise has been made under the concept until this past year. 2013 saw a few well known names come together to utilize the Air Jordan line as their base. The end results can be seen in these three pairs…..do you think 2014 will see these topped? I say YES!
The AJ III fire red was laser engraved by Absolute with the Gucci pattern and then painted details of black and green by Dank. A custom stingray skin tongue ups the luxury points thanks to Dank.
The recon skills of JBF was brought to the table giving the upper a glossed python skin while Mache handled the tiger camo. The end result lets us see what Atmos’ Nike Air Max 1 release looks like on the Air Jordan V.
JBF Customs X Sekure D Air Jordan V Cobra Commander
Once again JBF’s recon work is seen on the liners and red python while Sekure D’s detailed hand painting is seen in a couple signature patterns. Note the entire shoe was taken apart and then put back together after Sekure did his work.
Mache Outfits Dwayne Wade & Lebron James
After years of hard work in in customization by Mache, one of his greatest accomplishments took place in early 2013 as he had the chance to customize kicks for the Miami Heat’s All-Star duo. Uniquely customizing the signature shoe of both players who each eventually wore the pairs: Lebron at the NBA Finals shootaround and Wade in game during the regular season. The Li-Ning’s worn by Wade still stand as the most prominent NBAer to wear a pair of customs on the hardwood.