The Custom Sneaker Guru

Over the years sneaker heads have been exposed to a variety of colorways and styles. Most of which are dictated by the major brands themselves. Some have been utter bullshit and others have left major imprints on the sneaker culture. Now what if you could have a custom theme or colorway for your favorite kicks that would arguably be better than the original? We’re not talking about that Nike I.D. shit. We mean real art/custom design/face-lift my kicks and have dudes cracking their necks to peep my shit! There’s one guy leading the charge by forcing the boundaries of sneaker design and creativity and goes by the name of Mache Customs… get ready!

When did you realize you have a passion for sneakers?
When I was growing up I didn’t have much money so I couldn’t afford the Jordan’s and those coveted sneakers. But I mowed lawns all summer in 1990 to afford my first pair of Jordans, the black and silver 5s. Once I got those I had an appreciation for sneakers and that opened the floodgates.

What were some of the design challenges you faced in the early stages of customizing sneakers?
Back when I started in ’04 there weren’t many resources for customizing and there was only a small tight knit group of us doing it. There weren’t “how to” blogs back then, it was trial and LOTS of error. And as materials change and evolve over the years we have had to learn to evolve and figure out what works now. Freaking Hyperfuse haha!

“Now I get anxiety thinking how much over retail I have to pay to get the retro of that shoe I had as a 12 year old…”

Since you have a reputation to uphold, how do deal with a client that has a bogus idea for their kicks?
I never consider a customers idea bogus but I’ll always try to work with their idea so that it best fits the shoe they want to work on and looks good. I try to encourage creativity in the designs and really stray away from overdone themes and colorways like south beach for example.

What design is your all-time favourite?
I don’t really have one! But I just love working on original and creative stuff, it challenges me. Even though Nerf is a cool theme it gets monotonous after a half dozen pairs haha.

What do you do when you’re in a creative slump?
I try to separate work from regular life, you need that balance. I always draw inspiration from so many things. But like any artistic person there’s days you just don’t want to paint, you’re not feeling it. And on that day, I don’t paint. I go out and be Dan, not Mache. Then after that little break, back to work!

Have any major brands approached you to create anything?
I’ve had dealings with Nike and I’ve been commissioned by them for some things…nothing like a “collab” or anything but I worked on some of the cleats that were unveiled with the new NFL uniforms. And I was commissioned by Adidas years ago to do some customs for an event they sponsored. I’m hoping that one of those big boys want to do something with me in the capacity of what they did with Futura or Stash back then.

How would you describe the current state of the sneakers that are out right now?
It’s just not “fun” anymore. It’s all about business now. It’s going to sound funny considering what I do for a living but I see all this flipping and re-selling and that forces people who actually want the shoe to stress how the heck they can get them. It just seems like the love is gone, I used to get this euphoric feeling when I could go and get the shoes I wanted. Now I get anxiety thinking how much over retail I have to pay to get the retro of that shoe I had as a 12 year old back in 1990. It’s just not the same.

Is there a sneaker you’re anxiously waiting to customize?
Not really, I was hyped to get my hands on the Lebron X. But now I got them and am just looking forward to the next colorway I’m looking to improve on.

What sneaker would you say creates the most headaches when doing a custom job?
Anything south beach themed.

How would you react if you saw one of your custom sneakers not being cared for by a customer?
Hey at the end of the day it’s their shoe. I just think that if you spend money on something, take good care of it.

If you weren’t designing kicks, what would you be doing right now?
I’d still be in the art world, maybe a cartoonist.

Are there any new techniques you want to experiment with?
There are things I’m working on but I won’t say, just stay tuned.

Where would you like to see Mache Customs a few years from now?
Honestly, I want to build an empire, something to pass on to my children (when I have them). I also want to work with some of the major brands. I’d love to take it to the level Ronnie Fieg took his brand. He expanded his brand and I respect what he’s doing. Obviously I’m going a different route than he took or is taking but I think I can make my own little niche. I also want to almost be an ambassador to the custom sneaker culture- making sure customs are here to stay and will not just be a passing trend.

What are your top five sneakers of all time?

  • Jordan 5 black/ silver
  • Air max 90 infrared
  • Asics GL3- patta
  • Air penny 2 black/blue/white
  • Reebok answer 1s white/red/gold

Are there any upcoming projects you want people to look out for?
All of em, I just want to keep raising that bar!

Now I’m sure you’re debating on which sneakers you want to get customized by Mache, right? Be advised that there’s generally a 4 month waiting list and if your stumped on ideas follow him and check out his website.

Twitter: @mache275

Instagram: @mache275



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Sole Theory is a sneaker lifestyle guide that explores the social impact of the sneaker culture. Users can expect to gain insight on recent trends, historic brands and signature styles that have heavily influenced the shoe industry. Content will be driven by articles, interviews and reviews that will uncover interesting facts and stories that have rarely been told.