When it comes to the new wave of sneakers—The world of hypebeast is filled with great debates. Hybrid development, known as customs are dealt with a lot of “No’s” and “Don’t’s”. Half of the sneaker world find hybriding Nike with Adidas or any brand as an offense—but yet they wear socks , hats and shoes of different brands unconsciously to the gym. I’ve seen many sneaker heads wearing a Nike shirt with adidas socks or shoes casually or vice versa. Then you have the other half welcoming the new approach hoping the next wave will create a good chaos. I find the sneaker culture in a bit of a never ending twilight zone, specifically with Jordans. The same pair J’s comes out every 4 months with a different color with little-to-no creative adjustment. Opinions fly, fans defend favorites yet there’s an odd double play in wanting what others don’t have and feeling part of the culture of what is known to be part of the wave. I believe mix and matching your favorite sneaker elements creates entirely new silhouettes that people can appreciate from the past of noteworthy releases and bring in forms of it to the modern present with a new twist. Essentially we are doing what the cool kids did in the 80’s but with sneakers. The sneaker-obsessed world scrutinizes new ideas and approaches and is set on believing staying true to one branded look. I believe experimental design and development is the new string of customization that should be considered. People find this gaudy and rather daunting but let’s face it, it brings new creative energy and we are of need of a new Tinker. Remember the days of those kids that wore all black? —and was labeled gothic? Now the cool kids adopted the style and made it there own. It’s the same with sneakers, every sneaker made hasn’t originated solely on its own, there was some form of inspiration or existing design that sneaker designers took from to make it on foot. Why can’t that same approach be taken by the foot be elaborated on the foot? What’s the big f’ing deal?!
The subtitle might make you believe the start of this log is gonna be a fairytale. Sike! Instead, this is quite adjacent. The affliction of copycatting done by big sneaker brands is far too prevalent. Years ago, in an age where every false move can be quickly spread by social media, I watched a design of mine replicate on the biggest platform without my permission. It was no surprise—sneaker brands have only historically grown by copying. It's an epidemic and today more prevalent than ever for major footwear companies getting away with blatantly ripping off designs from independent designers. Once a design hits social media, the fast-fashion machine can’t be stopped. It’s only a matter of time before there are multiple brands making copies while the original creator like myself almost always gets lost in the shuffle. I could have lamented about being copied by a huge brand. Large brands get away with stealing designs from smaller companies because fashion is not fully protected under American copyright law. The US copyright law positions American fashion as a manufacturing industry rather than a creative one. With these outdated legal doctrines still in place, sneakers in any category aren’t given nearly enough legal protection, even as sneaker designs have become increasingly prevalent. Unfortunately, the industry is frivolous, an area that doesn’t need protection. If every shoe design were to suddenly fall under copyright protection, big brands with large legal budgets would copyright as many designs as possible and constantly file lawsuits, creating a hostile environment that could force smaller designers out of the industry completely. So instead of starting an outrage on social media, it opened me up to really form a strategic plan and play chess. I started attending various popular curated conventional festivals for research. I’ve learned that traditional footwear development is out, or to say the least powered by big-branded names. No independent brand will triumph in that department because it's already been overtaken. The new and emerging trend is that of custom shoes—I would be remiss if I didn’t include the thriving influencers in this category that have been making waves in the customization world. The breakout of independent footwear customizers hauled a perception of pricey tags and catered only to the high-end clientele. Of course this is a gross misconception. Most of the moneymaking of the customizations are being powered over once again by the big brands like Nike ID, Adidas Miadidas, Custom Converse, Vans, Reebok and New Balance. But it seems like in this category, there is a fighting chance and a bit more wiggle room. The worldwide reach of social media and the common desire among customers everywhere to get customized, individual products has broadened the size and scale of the custom shoe market.