The Chef from GourmetKickz got our attention a few weeks ago with his custom kicks and his latest invention, the DeCreaseR (scroll down the blog to check it out!) We had to hear from the man himself what this was all about.
1. It’s one thing to be a sneaker head and another to take it to the level of customization. What was the draw for you?
The draw came from a combination of things. I like challenges, so seeing what other customizers were doing always made me want to do something hotter or more detailed. I had never picked up a paint brush but was always artistic, so I posed the challenge of painting kicks to myself. I put my creative mind to use and applied my instincts for what colors or layouts look hot on a sneaker. Who would have known customizing would become the outlet I had long searched for to bring me peace of mind.
2. All of the shoes you customize are Nikes. Most of them are AF1’s. Why is that?
I have such a deep admiration for Air Forces, and quite a collection, 300+, most of them rare. Out my way it’s all about the forces. So naturally looking at GourmetKickz from a business perspective, I felt if I ever wanted my name to pop in CT I needed to go with what was going to sell well. So the tendency to do air forces is a function of my loving the shoe and my customers loving the shoe. I have done a few dunks, my first custom ever was a dunk low. But I always seem to get more orders for forces, hence their heavy presence in my catalog of work. I am down to customize whatever though! I have even done women’s wedges! *laughs*
3. In the eyes of a sneaker purist, couldn’t taking apart factory-fresh Nikes be considered sacrilegious?
Only if you make some uglyish from it! I improve kicks, most purists upon first looking at my customs often think they ARE factory made! I am often questioned “did you do those? Or are those from the store?” I think purists love cleanliness and precision, that’s the beauty of a Nike made shoe. But when you get a GourmetKickz sneaker, it’s the same precision and even more attention to details. Remember, I isolate stitching and paint the edges of the leather, this is stuff Nike either doesn’t always do or has still NOT done. As long as purists have an open mind and true eye for beauty, they will appreciate GourmetKickz creations.
4. Customization seems like a field of endless possibilities. Are there any guidelines or codes that you abide by when designing?
I think every customizer has their own code. On a whole, within the community I think we all know first and foremost DON’T BITE! That’s like the golden rule. Me personally, see I have a few main guidelines I follow when creating kicks:
1. Don’t overthink the design
2. Work smarter not harder
3. Go with your gut on color placement
4. Make it HOT
5. Keep the devil in the details
6. Keep it CLEAN
7. Make the changes invisible
5. What’s your latest acquisition? What’s on your wish list?
Latest cop was the Rosie’s Dry Goods Air Forces. The color placement on those is simple and clean, and that Giraffe pattern 3M killed it!
Wish list, hmmm where should I start.
Mushrooms (OG’s will know)
1st Cocoa Snakes
1st Courir exclusives ( I have every other one except these, grrrrrrrrr)
Stash Lasered Hyperstrikes
UNDFTD x Entourage
That’s it for now. *laughs*
6. Your latest project, the DeCreaseR, has just hit the market, but you’ve been giving out the blue print online for about a year. In interviews you’ve said it’s to give back to the sneaker community which has given you so much satisfaction. What’s been the most gratifying moment in the process thus far?
The warm reception from sneaker heads on the forums and the response the DeCreaseR has gotten overall on the internet. I gave the “blueprint” out ‘cuz it’s just such a simple design, and because everyone’s feet are different, it works best when it is customizable. The templates are a framework people can use to base a final shape that’s comfortable for them on. I hope it remains a very interactive device, that lets people share new templates that work for new sneakers not listed on my site.
7. Tell us a little about the ergonomics of the DeCreaseR design.
The DeCreaseR is meant to brace the front of your sneaker. It helps the sneaker bend where it should, in conjunction with the movements at the ball of your feet. The DeCreaseR creates a sort of “backbone” within the front of the sneaker so it doesn’t cave in during walking. The DeCreaseR adds firmness to the front of the sneaker while remaining flexible enough to allow normal movement of the foot and normal walking. It adheres to the upper inside of the sneaker and cradles some key points around the inside edge of the sneaker. This design keeps it off the foot, avoids any pressure point, and maximizes functionality. It is lined with fabric so when the foot does come into contact, it is virtually unnoticeable.
8. It’s a revolutionary idea, keeping your sneakers constantly crisp. It eliminates the need for constant replacements. Nike may not be such a fan! How do you think it will change the sneaker collecting landscape?
I think it will actually revive the sneaker market. I know what you’re thinking “revive?” Yea, revive! ‘Cuz right now people are afraid to spend $200 and $300 for some exclusive air forces or dunks. Kicks are sitting on shelves longer nowadays. I talk to shop owners all the time. I know what’s moving and what’s not and why. My research tells me that customers aren’t spending big bucks on kicks as much as they were last year because of the incessant creasing! If they could be guaranteed of a way to STOP THE CREASING they would be more inclined to drop serious coin on some kicks! I GUARANTEE you of that. Nike should LOVE ME! If this DeCreaseR movement goes the way I hope it does, then it will result in people rocking more kicks and not shying away from high prices due to a lack of crease-free sneaker life.
9. Sometimes custom sneakers don’t prevail and you’ve got to wear a suit. As a former mortgage broker, I’m sure you know those moments well. Is there a proper way of dressing up the sneaker? Like a tuxedo sneaker?
A lot of that answer comes with who you are and your swagger. If you can pull it off, u can pull it off. If u can’t, it’s a wrap.
Me personally, I can do it. But you have to know how to rock it. With a tux, most would go with the traditional all white, me ‘cuz I’m different, I’d go for something subtle, like an all black Air Force, black midsole, sole, and all white contrast stitching, and all white contrast edges. Subtle but it would catch some eyes, and play nice with traditional black & white tux.
10. Leave us with something sweet, Chef.
Life’s sweetest parts can be found after biting into the sourest bits. Persevere and follow your passions, they are sure to lead you to happiness.