“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;
JOSH LUBER: STOCKX LONDON, WHAT’S IN MY TRAINER COLLECTION, RESALE BUBBLE (FULL INTERVIEW)
Since 2015 StockX has been touted as the safest and fastest way to buy and sell authentic sneakers, streetwear, watches, and handbags. Last month co-founder Josh Luber was in London to announce the opening of the brands first outing outside of the United States. The UK branch of the brand brings both faster payments, faster delivery and ultimately lower cost to the masses of sneakerheads wishing to sell their clothes and trainers. Check out our interview with the Co-head honcho of StockX AKA ‘the Stock Market of Things’
YU MING WU THE GROWTH OF SNEAKERCON
Sneakercon is fast becoming the premier global sneaker event to attend. Their storied history has earned them the tagline “Greatest Sneaker Show On Earth” and if you’ve been yo one of their events, then you know that this statement shouldn’t be taken lightly. Their second event of 2017 just kicked off on a cold Saturday, thousands of attendees filtered through London’s ExCel exhibition center to enjoy a full day of buying, selling, and trading the most exclusive sneakers and clothing on the market.
The masterminds behind the brand were also present and we caught up with co-founder and CMO of New York-based consignment shop Stadium Goods, Yu-Ming Wu. The man has constantly taken his passion for sneakers and parlayed it into various endeavors throughout the years such as Sneakernews.com an immense for the latest information on the freshest footwear brands.
We sat down with the head honcho to talk about the global growth of SneakerCon and its expansion into Europe, his history within the culture, and how he feels the event has been received by the UK and some of the difficulties that the brand has faced.
Tell us about your history in the sneaker scene?
I am just a guy that likes sneakers so much that I decided to devote my life to it. Back in 2003, I started a website to research the field of sneakers called freshnessmag.com. This covered the culture around sneakers including toys, apparel and interesting guys like Alife in New York City, that was really interesting to me, so early on I just took a deep dive. I then got my first shot working for Nike Basketball.com, I helped them develop a program to reach sneakerheads. They were creating these Flash-based experiential sites and I told them no, all these kids want to see is shoes, so we made the shoe the hero. I spent three years with them and while there I did more research and development of my own and I developed a site called Kicks Finder. From there I just understood that I should not just work in sneakers, but really dig deeper. At this point, I had to start a website just on sneakers. I remembered reading an article back in the early 2000’s that domains were the new real estate, so I bought a lot of domains and one of the domains that I bought was Sneakercon and another one was Sneakernews which I launched in 2007.
So how did Sneakercon come about?
Fast forward to 2009, I met two buddies who I knew through buying on eBay their dad actually owned a store in New York City selling baseball cards and I actually wrote about it on freshnessmag.com we realized that our offices were five minutes from each other and on the same block. So they visited me and we chatted. They then brought up the idea of doing a sneaker convention, I wasn’t really interested in it but they eventually convinced me to partner with them. Then I told them that I owned sneakercon.com and that’s how we got started. Every step you take is a stepping stone, from Freshness Mag, Kicks Finder, Sneaker News, Sneakercon until most recently I was invited to be a partner in a store called Stadium Goods in New York City.
What were some of the differences that might have been potential barriers that you encountered when bringing the brand to the UK?
I think the biggest barrier is that we are an American company and once you start doing business on a global level, things change quite a bit. For example, it’s very easy to register a company and start a business and move forward in the US, it doesn’t take much. But once you start moving into different countries, one your not a citizen, two you cant just open a bank account, so it’s a little bit harder to deal with financial wise and it’s harder for us to grow. However we’ve slowly realized what we need to do to grow, push as much digital ticket sales as possible that makes it easier for us to maneuver. But past that the whole thing has been a learning experience. We had a successful event back in May, it was incredible the line went around the entire Kensington Olympia while another show was going on. Moving further out the city was another risk that we had to take. At each step, we evaluate if we’re going to be more successful or less successful. There’s a lot of differences to anticipate over here simply because we know the US more and the more we travel around the world we realize it’s the less that we actually know how things work.
What do you think it is about the Sneakercon brand that makes it so well received outside of the US?
The good thing is that we’ve been around for a very long time, we started back in 2009. We care a lot about our audience, but sometimes they might be rude to us and we might have to yell back, but for the most part we care about how much fun that these guys have when they come here we want to make sure that they come in happy and leave happy and 99 percent of the people do. Whether you’ve come to check things out, see people, buy a pair of shoes sell a pair of shoes for the most part we’ve given them a venue to where they can really be a part of the community.
Has the response in your opinion been strong enough to bring you back to the UK?
Absolutely, I think this is still an amazing show for us. London was our first international expansion city. I think just because it’s an English speaking country it was a lot easier for us to go in rather than say an Asian country or the other European countries like France or Germany which we are doing next week. We’ll really be aiming to learn from those experiences to make sure that we’re speaking the right language not just orally, but culturally.
What’re the future plans for Sneakercon as far as growth and expansion?
As far as the US we’re going to do bigger shows, multi-days, offering a lot more programming, a little more than vendors buying and selling shoes. You can start to see here at Crep Protect they brought together some of the biggest YouTubers here like Just Sul, Quias etc. So there’s a lot of nontraditional programming. Traditionally you would have celebrities and basketball players, here we have Youtubers. It’s very different and well accepted by the community. In the future, we’ll see if we can do a basketball game here with Youtubers and not just celebrities. Can we do a panel discussion? Can we do more then what we have here today? I think it will take time to build that audience through word of mouth and visibility in each country.
As far as tastes and attitudes between the UK and US audiences are there many similarities in your opinion?
Honestly, I think everything the UK has been pretty much similar to our US cities everyone here is fashion forward, they’re all wearing Supreme and the hot sneakers. You know surprisingly today, I saw a lot of Off White and a lot of Adidas as well as a really big mixture of things. The kids here look no different to the kids in the US, although I would say the UK audience is a little older than our audience back in the states, where they’re more on the college-age whereas ours are more on the high school age.
Whats your top five releases of 2017?
That’s impossible! I told myself that I was not going to buy any sneakers this year and I’ve added about two hundred pairs to my collection. The Off White collaboration, Pharrell NMD’s and some the Air Max’s this year have been good but again for me its impossible to keep it to a top five. There have been some amazing shoes, PUMA has put out a few good releases, Asics just put up some pictures of the Moncler collection that looks amazing. Adidas is killing it right now, Nike, also Converse with their Tyler collab. Jordan brand has some craziness. It’s been a crazy year, I think I would have to make it a top fifty rather than a top five!
MAGDI FERNANDES OF SLAMMING KICKS : WHAT’S IN MY TRAINER COLLECTION PT. 1
https://www.crepjunkie.com checks out the trainer collection of lifestyle photographer, DJ and all round sneaker Don Magdi Fernandes, of The Slammin’ Kicks store which was one of London’s most popular and established independent sneaker spots back in the day, right up until it closed its doors in late 2007.
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