“I like my shoes to be distinctive. I see trainer customising as a way to create designs that aren’t available on the high street.”
With the upsurge in sneaker culture in the past few years alongside the number of general releases we see week in, week out; the bar is set extremely high when it comes to originality and individuality in the sneaker community. The fact that a vast number of retailers carry such general releases, it can be very common to walk down your high street and see another person wearing the same sneakers as you. This presents a challenge, a challenge to stand out amongst the crowd and show off something fresh and unique. Though with this, comes limitations; not everybody is able to afford or get their hands on older, more rare retros of sneakers and harder to find collaborations and colour-ways, this is where the world of sneaker customising comes in.
We have seen many reputable customisers in America, put their creative spin on an assortment of models for a while now, from the early days of graffiti art on midsoles, to now a much more complex process with elements such as sole-swapping and material switching being made. The likes of Dank Customs, The Shoe Surgeon and Randy Lucas, famed for his Minnetonka Huarache mashup, are a few who come to mind when creativity and conceptualisation are in play. With this being said, the UK customising scene has really stepped up and shown how British cultural influences the end product of a bespoke sneaker.
18 year old, Manchester born and bred Matt B Customs is known for his putting his own inspired twist on classic silhouettes. His idea is that by wearing a simple, monochromatic outfit alongside a 1 of 1 colourfully customised sneaker, far greater emphasis and focus is generated towards them. This intriguing concept threw up some questions about the work of Matt B Customs, so we managed to converse and gain a greater understanding of his work and personal creative background:
CJ: “So who is Matt B customs?”
Matt: “I’m 18 and from Manchester, I’ve always had a big interest in footwear & fashion, which has grown massively since the start of MBC. I’m currently a Graphic Design student, which has had an impact on the way I work and the style of designs I create.”
CJ: “How did you get into the world of sneaker customising?
Matt: “I started by customizing my own footwear as I wanted trainers nobody else had. I then began to customize other people’s such as friends/people in my local area, which then resulted into me making my Instagram account where I posted my designs.”
CJ: “So what is your own sneaker collecting history?
Matt: “My Trainer collection is very original, the majority of my collection I have painted. I tend to go for styles which are popular at the time and add my own design to them. My collection features a lot of colour, this is because my clothing style is usually based on monochrome colours, which then help to emphasise the shoes I wear. “
CJ: “I noticed a lot of your work was on more OG, classic silhouettes such as air force 1’s, Stan Smiths, Huaraches and Superstars…does this reflect your own collection/taste?”
Matt: “Yes, very much so. I like taking popular trainers, which a lot of people wear, and changing them into something different and exclusive. My taste is definitely reflected in my designs as I like my shoes to be distinctive. I see trainer customising as a way to create designs that aren’t available on the high street..”
CJ: “Take us through your design process when planning a custom”
Matt: “One of the key areas I focus on when creating a design is the durability, it’s all good creating a design which looks good however if it doesn’t last then what’s the point.”
CJ: “Are there any sneaker customizers that you look up to, and if so why?”
Matt: “There’s a lot of cool stuff being created within the scene at the moment which I take inspiration from although, I look up to FVB the most, due to how well he has branded himself as an artist, not just restricting his designs to footwear. My biggest inspiration away from customising is Davo Howarth; I admire his distinctive style and how far he has progressed as an artist/brand.”
CJ: “What do you think about the UK sneaker customising industry in comparison to that in the USA?”
Matt: “I pay a lot more attention to the UK scene rather than the US as the trends are very distant from each other and the UK is more to my taste. “
CJ: “Why do you think there are these differentiations?”
Matt: “In areas in the UK, certain trainers are more popular than others due to the styles that are current in that particular area. This is exactly the same in the US although I think its enhanced due to the size of the US..”
CJ: “Do you have any upcoming customs that you can give us an exclusive on?”
Matt: “I have recently been commissioned in Selfridges to hold customising events where I have been customising trainers for customers who buy shoes in store on the day. This has helped to create new designs, which I wouldn’t usually create due to different customers ideas/wants. I have another event on Wednesday 4th November so I am looking forward to what exclusive designs that will be created. All the designs will be uploaded to my instragram @mattbcustoms”
CJ: “Lastly, where do you think the game of sneaker customising will be in the next 10 years?”
Matt: “There will always be a market for customised footwear, as customers love exclusivity. In 10 years time, I don’t know. There will be lots of different trends and styles within those 10 years so I’m looking forward to what the future holds.”
You can find out more about the work of Matt B Customs by checking him out on the following;
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