Best Places for Creatives to Make Custom Sneakers

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Sneakers are more than footwear; they’re a statement of who you are. The sneaker market, which is worth $55 billion globally, has spawned a spin-off for collectors of rare and limited edition brands. These “sneakerheads” will stand in line all day and spend $10,000 on a set of rare kicks for their collection. This subset of the industry buys and sells these collector sneakers to the tune of another $1 billion in global commerce.

While this is certainly one way to stand out in the sneaker crowd, there is another way for those of us that don’t have that kind of money to spend. Most people don’t realize that there are a number of tennis shoe websites that allow buyers to customize their sneakers — many times this is a free service. We’ve found some of our favorites for the sneakers geek that doesn’t want to spend a lot to be different.

Forget Off-the-Rack Sneaks, Check Out —

Big name brand Adidas, which has been around for decades, is now back with a retro flair. Visitors can hit their webpage and use the search feature to find customizable sneaks — just type in customize then pick men, women, or children. There are nearly 140 pairs available for customization.

Clicking on a pair opens a new window. Just click on the individual sections of the shoe to add a customized look.

Customize the heel, the tongue, the back and the bottom of the foot. For the record, we wouldn’t be caught dead in the design we came up with. But this graphic does a nice job showing the possibilities for a truly customizable design.

Even better? For $145 bucks anyone can buy a sneaker that screams their individuality. Shoppers can even take another 15% off their purchase by simply signing up for the Adidas newsletter.

Now let’s move from a big name sneaker company with a little bit of flair to a true artist that takes sneakers and remakes them into a vision seldom seen in the sneaker world.

Say, “Hello” to Dan Gamache, or Mache (pronounced MOSH) for short.

Mache Custom Kicks is frequented by some of the biggest stars in sports and entertainment. That’s because these sneakers are hand-painted to perfection by Mache himself. The artist formerly known as Dan prides himself on creating limited edition paintings on familiar sneaker brands like Nike. He uses acrylic paints to painstakingly touch each stroke to the shoe, creating designs that are beyond cool.  

While Mache designs probably belong in a museum of modern art, the buyer will likely experience extreme sticker shock when purchasing these Van Gogh’s. In fact, each order is quoted individually and a consultation is included in the price. The price is non-negotiable and the website says things like, “When the check has cleared,” which seems to connote a hefty price tag per sneaker set. Did we mention the buyer sends Mache the sneaks and he does the painting? So the price of the painting doesn’t even include the sneakers themselves.

While Mache designs probably belong in a museum of modern art, the buyer will likely experience extreme sticker shock when purchasing these Van Gogh’s. In fact, each order is quoted individually and a consultation is included in the price. The price is non-negotiable and the website says things like, “When the check has cleared,” which seems to connote a hefty price tag per sneaker set. Did we mention the buyer sends Mache the sneaks and he does the painting? So the price of the painting doesn’t even include the sneakers themselves.

Let’s go back to an old favorite: Vans. Like the logo says, these sneakers are off the wall. That’s because they’re over the top for customization. Their website is all customization all the time. Just click on “customs” and pick the kick.

For $110 we found a nice all-weather high top. It looked like this when we started. Adding colors and monograms at the heel made for a unique process.

Before ordering, check out this deal for free shipping.

Under Armour sells all kinds of athletic apparel for men, women, and children. They are known for weaving high-tech into their apparel, from sleep shirts that help an athlete’s muscles recover from heavy sporting activity to tennis shoes tied to a phone app that tracks activity.

Speaking of sneakers, Under Armour’s website offers a ton of customization. Go to the ICON section of their site here. Then pick the shoe. Then use the simple template to customize like crazy. There is no extra charge to customize, and the new sneakers will be ready in a few weeks.

Let’s look at the UA Icon Curry 1.

Buyers can upload an original photo or graphic to customize their shoe. Or, go with a stock design.The original phone needs to be high resolution and there are rules related to copyright that the website watches like a hawk. But generally, the sky is the limit for customization on this website. While Under Armour is a trusted brand in athletic gear, it is expensive. Try going here or here for a promo code before hitting their website.

Then there is the King of Sneaks, Nike.

Not to be outdone by any of their competitors, Nike offers a blank canvas for site visitors to play with.While Nike is one of the most recognizable brands in the world, a little customization can take that swoosh to a whole new level. Pick the shoe, material, color, and start painting with their website.

This customization carries over across all sports and performance categories from tennis and basketball to gold. The customized shoe arrives in about a month, and the site lets users mix and match everything from the insoles to the tongue and laces.

Finally, there is Converse. Remember those good old Chuck Taylor high tops? Now fans can customize them into something new and different.Like the other websites we’ve reviewed, there is a PaintShop quality to the website that makes it easy to play with a customized design.

As the visitor will soon realize, these are not Momma’s Chuck Taylor’s. Actually, technically they are; they’re just cooler now. In fact, our favorite feature is that the customer can color the shoes in two different complementary (or contrasting) designs. Take a look at these kicks, hey?

This is another website that offers an additional 15% off by signing up for the newsletter. How’s that for awesome? Custom design in a few weeks plus a discount? Sign us up!

D-I-Y Custom Sneaks

The ability to customize sneakers is the newest trend in the athletic shoe market sweeping the globe. It ties strongly into our desire to have a personalized shopping experience online and at a brick and mortar store. As a sales gimmick, it’s brilliant; it lets everyone have a voice in the look they carry around every day. The prices on the big name brands are affordable for the average shopper, but there are also high-end options out there for the fickle consumer with a heavier wallet.