Sneaker customization or sneaker creation has evolved into an art form. In this article, we will be discussing sneaker design and the talented craftsmen who are creating and teaching others to create their vision for fly footwear and more. Meet The Campus Worldwide, a collective of artists and creatives who design shoes, bags, leather goods, and more at a very high-end production level, and have created a master class that you can join to learn how to design your very own sneaker from beginning to end. The Campus is based out of Los Angeles, California, and in January, I was blessed with the opportunity to take one of these classes, and I’ll tell you all about it.
Initially, I showed up to the class extremely excited to create my shoe and make something fly that I could rock outside when I want to wear something unique and exciting to tell more like-minded people about FIXMYKIX. When I got to the class, I was met with friendly faces and warm engaging energy! Team members immediately engaged with us and sparked up conversations, making it a comfortable environment. The most valuable aspect I got from the class was the relationships built over the four days with the amazing group I had in my class that I still keep up with til this day.
So the four days went like this…
Day 1, we started with deconstructing a pair of Jordan 1 lows (This is the model and silhouette we are reconstructing). This process was fun and difficult as we worked with acetone and a tool that helped pry the uppers from the sole. Once this part was complete, we then chose the fabric and materials we wanted to use for our designs. I chose some nice Green Suede and Magenta Suede and paired it with some black crocodile for the swooshes and accents. After choosing our materials, we then had to cut and mark our cut pieces so we knew where to glue and sew.
Day 2, we picked up exactly where we left off and had to begin Schiving our pieces that we have cut already so the materials fit together on the shoe without becoming so bulky. After Schiving, we started gluing foam in between our fabrics and then began using the sewing machines for the first time to sew the foam into what is becoming the first constructed pieces of the shoe. I learned in this moment I do not have the steadiest hands, and sewing is not a strength of mine, but it was a good first try lol. One of my favorite parts of Day 2 was actually working with The Campus’ partner company ROOR.IO, who puts sneakers onto blockchain technology. So what we got to do at around the early to mid-way point of us creating our sneakers was sit down with a talented Graphic Designer from ROOR and design our sneakers virtually that we were creating in real life so that they can turn them into an NFT.
Day 3, we started the day adding more foam to parts of the shoe where it is needed and then gluing and sewing it up to lock it in. After this, we had some fun taking a hammer and beating up the uppers to flatten the foam out, I guess lol. I don’t know exactly why we do that, but it is a good release of energy. From there, we kept our hammers in hand and moved on to creating breathability holes on the toe box. This required a special tool that we hit on its head with our hammer over our pre-marked holes to create our toe box breathability and traditional Jordan 1 aesthetic. Once this was done, it was time to start connecting all of our separate sewn pieces of the shoe together. It was around this time that I broke a sewing machine, and the staff went into repair technician mode, which was also great to see, especially when they fixed it, and I no longer felt responsible for broken equipment. Lastly, once we had stitched the shoe all together, we had to last the shoe, which meant putting a last in the shoe to create the shoe’s shape, and then putting a bunch of nails in the bottom of the shoe to hold it together. Lasting was pretty tough, and I definitely had to get some help from my guy, Kicksunderthe stairs. By the end of Day 3, we could all see our creation come to life, and we wrapped up with everyone excited to finish the process the next day.
Day 4 was so exciting because I knew this was the day we would finish our shoes and be able to try them on for the first time! When we first came in, we had to remove the nails and cut the extra fabric off the bottom of the shoe that was left over from lasting. We then marked the shoe where the sole should be glued onto the shoe before we actually started laying glue down on the bottom of the shoe, where we would later glue the outsole. We moved to lunch, and Day 4’s lunch was great because we got Diamond Slice pizza, which is some of my favorite pizza in East Oakland, CA. We also got to go shoot some hoops on the Golden State Warriors’ old practice facilities court. I put up a triple-double in a one-on-one game against my boy (something light). After lunch and living out my dreams as an All-Star NBA player, we headed back up to finish the final steps to creating our shoes. Next, we heated up the glue we put down before lunch, and then the staff helped us stick the uppers of our shoes to our sole. Now we literally had a shoe! Just one more step was left, and that was for us to stitch the sole and the uppers of the shoe together. This process was longer and more tedious than I expected, but I think knowing this was the final step kept me motivated. Once completed, I put them straight on my foot, and the pride I felt with these kicks I just made myself was immeasurable. So I rocked them to BayAreaFoodz Mama’s birthday celebration, where we all had fun and celebrated her life. Mama Foodz and him killed me and Tristan in a dance-off, and we might as well have jumped overboard from the party boat because we were deceased.
To sum it up, this was an amazing, insightful, and skill-building experience. It provided insight into the growing and emerging market of custom handcrafted shoes, as well as provided me an experience to try something new and have a great time while doing it. Seeing how many hours these artists put into each piece of work they crank out provides so much context as to why these rare 1-of-1 shoes come at a price that ranges from $1500 to $5000+. Fashion is expression, and these artists understand how to engineer a piece of fashion that can tell whatever story you want to convey. So whether you are interested in joining a class or having these amazing creatives bring your next creative vision to life, I recommend you go for it! It is a one-of-a-kind experience and opportunity that will be a story you can tell forever. I’m so excited for the future of fashion, and look out! You might see these talented creatives on the FIXMYKIX platform when we launch!