球鞋定制？是的這又是一個關於定制的故事。隨著個性化的時代到來，生活中的諸多事物都迎來新的契機，定制就是來滿足社會上不同人群的需求。Relevant Customs 就是一個高端球鞋定製品牌。如果你對這個品牌還不是很熟悉，也許你已經見過其創作的定制球鞋，比如Jay-Z 就曾穿著一雙以Air Jordan 1 為原型定制的The Brooklyn Zoo，在Brooklyn Nets 場地上亮相，當時可是引來眾多球鞋媒體的關注。
Relevant Customs 雖說是一個三代人的公司，但是真正發展才有幾年的時間。Relevant Customs 的前身是一家專門為腿部有殘疾的人製作矯形鞋的公司，由現創始人Jon Silverman 的祖父所創立，當時就有為Whitney Huston 和Charlie sheen 等名人製作過矯形鞋。後來Jon Silverman 的父親也選擇了繼續這條道路，在足科醫學畢業後繼承了家族的事業。轉眼50 多年過去了，到了Jon Silverman 這一代卻發生了轉變。因為自身對球鞋文化的熱愛和尋求真正的年輕人市場，於是他便將家族流傳下來的技藝有機結合到球鞋定制上，此舉更是彌補了當時球鞋定制的市場空缺，這正是Relevant Customs 的開始。此次我們有幸邀請到Relevant Customs 的創始人Jon Silverman，一同來揭開高端定制球鞋的華麗面紗！
We understand that Relevant Customs’ factory originally made orthopedic shoes, and the business was passed down from your grandfather to your father. How did you decide to begin making customized, reconstructed sneakers?
我們知道Relevant Customs 的工廠原先是做矯形鞋，而這也是從你的祖父到你的父親一直延續下來的，你是怎麼想到轉型成做球鞋訂製的？
My grandfather was a pediatrist and he invented various shoe designs in the orthopedic world. I went into a personal medical training for a period of time, and then enter this business—in orthopedic aspect, and then it involved into something very special, where the skill set from the employees that manufactured the orthopedic shoes and the other products are made here, we are able to use that in a more fashion, forward environment—making sneakers. That was actually one of those really special light ball moments, I literally was on google, try to help my mom’s business, market to a younger group because it’s fairly conservative older group that they make the spoke shoes for, a lot of celebrities, famous feet, like Whitney Huston, David Rockefeller, Charlie sheen..those are some of the celebrity customers, and then was really no younger market, and I thought this will be something we try to reach out to. With couple coffee in my hand, I typed into google “Custom Sneakers”, and out of nowhere. That was the beginning of this.
我的祖父是個兒科醫生，在矯形鞋的領域有許多發明。而我在進入這個行業以前我去參加過一段時間的醫學培訓。有一次我們想把我們做矯形鞋的技術用到一個更時尚前衛的地方—— 改造球鞋。那時我正試圖從Google 上找些信息來幫助我母親的生意，更準確地來說是想尋找年輕市場，儘管我們為許多名人製作過矯形鞋，像Whitney Huston、David Rockefeller、Charlie sheen… 但沒有真正的年輕人市場，所以我輸入“球鞋定制”，想要獲取一些信息卻什麼也沒有發現。那時我就想這是我們要做的事，也是Relevant Customs 的開始。
Even though you’re a company which has been passed down for three generations，Relevant Customs technically only have a few years of history. What kind of valuable resources and experiences have Relevant Customs gained from the original company?
雖然說你們是一個三代人的公司，但是Relevant Customs 真正才有幾年的歷史，那麼Relevant Customs 從原先的工廠中吸取到什麼樣的寶貴資源嗎？
The original company gave us the foundation of the skill set for shoe making to be able to create this type of sneaker where other people in this industry have used certain types of proxies by taking the shoe apart rapping the material on it, putting it back together. Because of the background we are able to fully reconstruct the shoe by making professional lasts, patterns and really finishing it with eye-hand coordination, that is very rare in the world. People that make the spoke shoe they do it really fine, are only a handful people in the world. Usually it takes about 6-7 years before someone with good eye-hand coordination can make a spoke shoe going out door for sale. That’s the kind of worker we have here, so we hold very dearly, that’s what’s been passed down from the businessman grandfather started.
原先的工廠給了我們技術基礎讓我們能夠製造這樣的球鞋。這個行業裡的其他人都會交給代理工廠來做，把鞋拆開來，把新的材料包上去，再重新粘回去。而由於我們背景的關係，我們可以完全重新構造球鞋，用客制的鞋楦，圖案以及精細的手工縫製，這是非常珍貴的，能完美做到這些的人其實很少。一般來講需要花費一個人6 到7 年的時間去學習，然後才能做出一雙能在市場上販售的定制球鞋，而我祖父的工廠傳給我們的就是這樣傑出的技術。
Regarding customized sneakers, what is the process in which a pair of sneakers transform from its original style to a customized, reconstructed one?
That’s the art and the fun. My background was in medicine, but I was looking towards reconstructed surgery, that’s because there was an artist inside me, my grandmother was a painter, I felt like that’s in me. My grandfather as well, his inventions is another form of making a sneaker reconstruction at this level. It’s a combination of using colors in certain way, textures in certain way, symbolic thought. I like organic, nature structure , there is such beauty in the world around us, the way nature presents harmony in colors. What I have on my feet is a great example of that, this a material that is an invention based on just looking around what’s around us in the urban environment, this is a relevant customs trademark material. It is a actual photograph that’s printed and then embossed on leather to recreate asphalt, this is the urban camouflage. When you see your feet in the spot where this shoe was taken and the leather was created, it actually blends into the environment. This is the first generation and we probably using this to release our line.
Customers often have a myriad of ideas, but to actually follow the customer’s every whim may be unrealistic. How do you find a balance in this issue?
That’s part of the fun when I’m working with individual who wants a customization. Blending what they want with what’s really durable and what looks good and what can actually be constructed. Certain skins works better in certain areas, you see people playing around with skins they just don’t use it correctly to create a refined, finished product. That’s like the first logical progression, we make sure that the skin they are looking to use are gonna be used in a correct way, and I’ll make suggestions on what could work better here there. We are working with some corporations that do have budgets where they can get things exactly where they want them. So keeping it to what customer wants but balancing it with what’s really durable, that’s fun game for me.
What do you think is the most difficult part of customizing reconstructed sneakers?
Getting things down under pressure. Because of the desire of making this art very special, because it’s such part of our soul when we finish a piece to go out, we wanna make sure that is perfect every stitch is perfect. Periodically, we have a time constraint, and unexpected things happen all the time, whether its ordering or shipping, getting a color.. when it’s under the pressure, that’s the most difficult thing. And some customers so need it by certain day,one particular example is that sneaker right there, which was for Beyonce, that was for the Super Bowl. Each time we do something, we learn more about what we were capable of doing and what we were not so capable of doing, that’s a learning process.
在壓力下完成定制。由於我們想要把球鞋做的特別，以及我們對於完美的追求，我們想要確保每一道縫線都是完美的。我們經常需要在一個特定的時間裡完成，然而總有意料之外的事情， 例如訂貨發貨，弄到正確的顏色，這些事情在壓力之下會變得更困難。有些客人一定要在特定的日期拿到他們的球鞋，例如那雙為Beyonce 的Super Bowl 活動製作的。每次我們完成一個作品，我們都會對於我們能做的和不能做的有個更加清晰的認識，這是一個學習的過程。
We’ve noticed that many celebrities have customized sneakers from Relevant Customs，can you tell us about the most memorable pair that you’ve produced?
我們有留意到Relevant Customs 和許多大牌明星都訂製過球鞋，能給我們聊聊至今讓你最為印象深刻的一雙鞋嗎？
The Brooklyn Zoo. We designed a shoe out of Jordan 1, we played around with many skins to test the water of what we are capable of doing, and it came together in a really special way. That become a pop icon in sneaker culture, when you mention the broken zoo, people know the sneakers know that sneaker, and you say that’s our company we made that, they go really. It’s a very special feeling, to connect with a broad based people in that way. This went to GQ for photographs and Rock Nation the same day, and it just so happen that Jay-Z was there that day, usually he is not there, and he saw it, one of his friends brought it over, and he was like I need this, and the next time the shoe was seen in a picture he was posted in his condo, next to a gold statue, and then it was in people magazine, at the floor of the brooklyn nets game, on his feet.
The Brooklyn Zoo。那雙鞋的原型的是Air Jordan 1，我們試驗了很多皮革來看效果，最終的成品令人非常滿意。這雙鞋像是球鞋文化的代表，當我向球鞋愛好者說這是我們做的的時候，他們非常驚訝，這種感覺很奇妙。這雙鞋做出來後被送去《GQ》和Rock Nation 拍照， 剛好那天Jay-Z 也在那裡，一般來說他不會在，他的一個朋友把那雙鞋帶到那裡，他看到了就說我要這個。然後第二天那雙鞋就出現在了他公寓的照片裡，在一座金色雕像旁邊。後來他又穿著這雙鞋去看了Brooklyn Nets 的比賽。
Regarding specialty leathers that are often incorporated into these sneakers, how do you choose the leathers, and how do you treat them so that they work well within the sneakers?
We look at the different panels which will work well with particular leather. Knowing the kind of material, how to construct, that’s how I assist and help a customer, order a pair and I’ll guide them. There are so many materials that we can use and we’ve explored with some, and we are looking forward to explore with some really hi tech stuff soon. Because we are re-constructing this from a fully open canvas, it allows us to use materials that you’ll never be able to glue one or paint on.
Aside from customized sneakers, are there any plans for expansion within other realms of customized fashion and footwear?
Yes, we probably be looking at lifestyle shoes to dress shoes that we can offer to our customers. Like a hand-made leather sole shoe with customized last, taking measurements from individuals’ feet.
Relevant Customs has accumulated several years of experience with sneakers now, what do you think the market will be in the future for customized footwear?
Relevant Customs 已經積累了幾年的球鞋訂製經驗了，你覺得將來球鞋訂製的市場會是什麼樣?
I think we’ll expand and involve into a broader base around the world. We have somebody in Australia, Amsterdam, China, and cross America. We are looking at getting into the boutique stores in the U.S. primarily. We have 8 stores on the west coast, and we are going to be east coast next, Dallas, Philly, Chicago. So what we gonna to is get right to the customers that way. Another thing we are doing is hi tech, we are into the functionality of the footwear, we also wanna customized the interior. So we are working on a App that you can take 3 images of foot and then it’ll print out an orthotic insole. This is kind of thing where we can offer something toward a different level than anything that’s been ever done in the sneaker world .
Do you have any plans for the Chinese market?
The Chinese market appears after spending sometime studying it, it seems could be a really nice process, where we could be making something special for the Chinese market. One of our friends is going to open a new boutique store in China, and he’s gonna carry our our products for the first time in China.
Photography: Franno / TRENDSFOLIO