Nike has not abandoned its dedication to performance, but it has picked up a new title as the frontrunner amongst the major brands in the customization game. The most impressive feature about the label’s customization website, NikeiD.com, is the vast number of styles in every major performance category available to personalize — never mind all the customizable details, from color to thread. Those wanting a more hands-on design will still have to wait, though, since admission to Nike’s iD Design Studio in New York is currently invite-only. What are you missing? Exclusive styles, materials, and one-on-one sessions with a shoe designer. Celebrities and other boldfaced names have been among the chosen few for the experience thus far.
Puma has created a tactile environment for the launch of Mongolian Shoe BBQ, the customization labs in their boutiques across the United States. Shoppers can feel the quality of materials and get an accurate take on color and texture, ranging from metallic gold leather to camouflage mesh. The label sees bringing these choices to the masses as the next step in the evolution of the customization craze. Converse‘s Chuck Taylor All-Star website shares the same easy interface of Nike, its sister brand. The simplicity of the All-Star’s design makes customizing the shoe that much more fun. And with a host of colors to choose from, designs can range from the graphic (contrasting side panels and tongues in lime and orange) to a more subdued white on white. The personalization option lets the designer put their name on either the outer side panel or the back seam of the trainer.
Dr. Martens‘ boot is also aboard this trend. As part of a global product placement campaign targeting tastemakers, the company created 400 pairs of their classic boot with the first name of the recipient stitched onto the “Airwave” tag. Those lucky enough to make the list included John Galliano, Kate Moss, and Johnny Depp. The reaction was so positive that this year the company plans to launch the same customization service to all consumers.
Adidas‘ take on the world of customization goes beyond the look of the shoes and focuses on the fit. By measuring exact width, length, and weight distribution, shoes are manufactured for optimal fit to the buyer’s feet. The Mi Adidas lab has just opened at Manhattan’s new Adidas Sport Performance store, the largest of its kind. And for a more street approach to personalization, many are flocking to JGoods. The designer Jon Goodman, a high school senior, hand paints Nikes to your specifications. More adventurous shoe lovers can take matters into their own hands and purchase customizing kits, featuring exclusive paint mixtures that will not crack or peel.
“Now that the mass-market culture has an outlet, they are using it as a way of self-expression and individualism,” says Scout Group USA principal Junior Pence, who specializes in customization and trend forecasting and has worked with Diesel, Polo, Tommy Hilfiger, and Nike. “What has really driven this trend is not athletes, but rather celebrities such as 50 Cent, Jay-Z, and Pharrell, who have pushed shoe customization to a new level. Shoe companies have caught on and are teaming up with graffiti artists, architects, and celebrity designers to create specialized custom products, all limited edition.”
Photos: Nike iD homepage