Custom sneakers

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Interview with Revive Customs, New York – The sneaker revolution has been unstoppable since Michael Jordan lent his name and legend to Nike. Crazed fans of MJ lined up for blocks to be first in line when a new sneaker dropped. Things haven’t changed much, but Nike has diversified and has signed a small army of elite athletes to fill in the gaps and keep Nike ahead of the competition.


The boom of signature basketball shoes has created a sneaker sub-culture that has transcended gender, race, and distance, bringing together sneaker heads for a singular purpose. Anybody can be a sneaker head – you just have to love sneakers.

Revive Customs Nike Lebron 8 Ps (Rammellzee)

Hard-core sneaker heads have an amazing repertoire of knowledge about the who, when, where, and why of sneaker design. They buy, sell, and trade to enhance their collections and are constantly looking for rare or unique finds. Sneaker customisers specialise in creating one-of-a-kind commemorations for customers who are seeking a more personal experience. Customisers may spend days or weeks painting or reconstructing a shoe to give it a truly unique identity. Designs may reflect style or taste or may document an event in history or in the life of the collector. In the realm of social media, sneaker heads are all about sharing ideas and concepts, and they avidly follow what’s going on in the world of custom design through Instagram, blogs, sneaker magazines, and Facebook.

The practice of sneaker customising – when an artist paints a shoe of their choice – has become increasingly popular in the last few years. It may seem unusual, but it has become a way to make your pair of trainers more personal, and artists and creatives will spend hours to make their design look as if it came out of a factory.

Spike Lee’s custom-made shoes from Revive.

Revive Customs is an artist living in New York City who creates designs that are keenly watched by both media and sneaker fans. Revive (Evan Macpherson) has created an impressive array of designs which are appreciated by an equally interesting customer base including Spike Lee, Run DMC, Flo Rida, Wakaflocka, and Joe Johnson of the Brooklyn Nets. 

Revive has an eclectic collection of shoes and is passionate about his craft. He’s been customising shoes for about eight years now, and his designs aren’t only creative but are truly representative of the world we live in. One of his more recent shoes, titled ‘Product Placement’, is a depiction of a Tide detergent container. Drawing on the Reebok Shaqnosis, in Tide’s trademark orange and yellow, he recreates the Tide logo on the pattern of the shoe. Furthering that series, he customised a Cole Haan LunarGrand in the style of a Gibson guitar, emphasising its traditional sunburst effect. 

Serato KD VI

“The ideas come from things that I see around me every day.” Although his intention isn’t to recreate the world of sneakers, most artists don’t set out to do that. He takes the shoes as they are, and applies paint and appliqué to transform their meaning. “The shoe panelling and everything has to work with my design. Sometimes I’ll be looking at a pair of shoes and it will remind me of something familiar. For instance, the sole pattern on some Filas made me think of The Nightmare Before Christmas. After some sewing work and a little customisation – you have the ‘Jack Lament’s’.” Revive customised two shoes with a musical influence called the ‘Serato KD VI’ and the ‘Technic’s 1200s’. The Serato base shoe is the KD VI low top. “I chose the KD VI because of its similarities to the DJ software which inspired my design. The waveform on the side is adopted from the Serato DJ programme. I knew I wanted the imagery of the frequency to wrap all the way around the shoe. The reason I chose this shoe is that it’s a high-performance, contemporary shoe that parallels the design language of modern DJ software.” Since the Technic 1200 is an older DJ instrument, Revive customised an older New Balance model. “For the Technic 1200s, I used an older-looking shoe, the New Balance 1200s, because Technic 1200 turntables have a vintage look.”

Revive’s art is instinctive and his order books full, but he’s always on the search for a new creative challenge; “Every time I do a shoe, I try to do something completely different.”

Revive’s top 10 sneakers

#1 – Nike Foamposite

Revive was particularly impressed with the Nike Foamposite because of its futuristic look and the protective and encapsulating feeling you get when you’re wearing them.


#2 – Nike Air Max 95

Revive is a great fan of the Air Max 95 because it is the most wearable shoe out of the Air Max line. They have a lean styling and look aesthetically pleasing on your foot. This shoe mimics the human body. The graduating panels on the upper represent the layers of flesh and muscle fibres, the loopholes represent the ribs, while the midsole alludes to the spine.


#3 – Jordan XIs

One of the most popular sellers of all time.  They are defined by very clean lines and the materials are strong and durable. They are comfortable and wearable in all types of weather, similar to the Foamposite.


#4 – Visvim FBT

A good balance between formal and casual wear. “You could wear them with shorts but also wear them with slacks and a dress shirt.”


#5 – Reebok Questions

“Undoubtedly one of the most comfortable sneakers I’ve ever owned.”  Unfortunately, he didn’t own them for very long because they were stolen from him when he was in high school! He has always regretted not getting another pair.


#6 – New Balance 580

Simple, comfortable, and easy.


#7 – Reebok Instapump Fury

In spite of the high-tech look, they were very practical.


#8 – Adidas Stan Smith

These iconic Adidas shoes are simply classic and a perfect canvas for a customiser, according to Revive.


#9 – Nike Spiridon

This classic sneaker is aesthetically well balanced with materials and textures that work well together. Yet, it’s impossible to find on eBay.


#10 – Vans Half-Cab

The shoe that defined skateboarding.

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