Nike originally launched its Nike ID line in 2000. They were one of the first brands that allowed customers to customize their shoes through Nike directly. While on the surface this can seem like a great thing for customers, the Nike ID program was not without fault. One of the main faults is the long wait times when ordering customized shoes. At times delivery could take months leaving customers waiting to receive their shoes. These long wait times were a major deterrent to keeping customers from utilizing the program. Additionally, the customization was limited, and customers were not always able to do exactly what they wanted with the sneakers. Since then, Nike has expanded its program offering, which now includes over 100 in-store studios worldwide.
Even though Nike provided its customers with the ability to customize shoes through Nike ID, individuals have taken the opportunity to express their own creativity through customization. This has created a whole new industry of creators who modify existing Nike and Air Jordan sneakers. Some individuals will do one design for notable figures such as Justin Bieber, Drake, and Odell Beckham Jr. while others have created whole new brands such as Warren Lots and MSCHF that use designs very similar to Nike shoes.
Through freelance sneaker artists (customizers) such as Katty Customs, Wally Champ, Kickasso (k_o.brand_kickasso), Mache, TheShoeSurgeon (TheSurgeon), Jake Danklefs, Dillion DeJesus (Dejesus Custom Footwear), JBF Customs Donnell McFadden-Brooks (jigga_what_jigga_who), Stomping Ground Customs, Brad Torf (AstrotorfCustoms), Dez Customz, P3.Customs and other artists can create designs that simply would not be possible through Nike ID and more than likely would never be released by Nike or Jordan brand.
These artists (customizers) can flourish for that exact reason, anyone who isn’t satisfied with Nike designs or has an idea of their own now has an outlet to see their vision come to life.
Nike VS Customizers Conflict
While some people may argue that what individual customizers do is harmless, Nike finds itself on the opposite side of that argument. Many companies and individuals have found themselves facing trademark lawsuits from Nike for customizing their shoes. One instance of this was with the Lil Nas X Collab with MSCHF Product Studios. The collab resulted in what is known as the “Satan Shoe” a pair of Air Max 97 that was customized to contain devil theming including simulated blood in the air bubble. This lawsuit resulted in the whole drop being recalled and the company agreed to buy back any shoes that were already released.
Another instance of Nike going after the customizer brand was through the lawsuit against Warren Lotas. In this case, Warren Lotas created and released a shoe that Nike deemed an SB Dunk look alike. Again, in this case, Warren Lotas and Nike reached a private settlement and Lotas is now barred from making any more sneakers that may infringe on Nike’s trademark.
It is hard to tell people to not express their creativity no matter what medium they choose to do it. Customizers find themselves in a difficult position against one of the largest apparel and shoe companies in the world. While Nike might be fighting a battle, they can never win. Customizers will more than likely remain in the industry for the upcoming future and it will be up to them to take the risk to express their own creativity through the customization of sneakers.
Do you have a pair of Custom sneakers or would you buy a pair? Drop a comment and let us know. We will be randomly selecting comments to receive a free Sole Protector.