Ian Chong spends at least $500 a month on customized shoes in Singapore.
The 18-year-old Law & Management student in Temasek Polytechnic has been a customized shoe fan since he was 15. Sharing that paying more for a customized design can be worth it, he said: “I want to be unique, to wear something that no one else has ever worn (and). It gives me confidence when I wear it.”
Owning over 30 pairs of customized sneakers, Ian’s favorite pair is the Nike Air Jordan Supreme, which is priced at $130 in Nike retail stores and an extra $100 to get it customized into a Supreme fusion customized shoes. To save up to purchase customized shoes, he works as a part-time sales assistant every day after lessons.
“In 2015, I saw a customized Neymar soccer boot and thought that it was really cool. From that day, I always wanted to design and wear shoes that only I will have”, Ian shared.
Most of his customized shoes were bought through online or on Carousell with online merchandise store, Mr Sabotage being his favorite customized shoes store.
Jessie Chan, 21, also collects multiple customized shoes. Her collection revolves around Keds sneakers with patches at the side of the shoe.
“Keds is my favorite brand and patches on them makes them look special. Without the patches, the shoes look a little dull and I want to add something to spice it up. It also gives me a sense of individuality,” Ms Chan said.
The Social Foot, a multi-label sneaker store which carries street and sneaker brands such as Nike, Adidas and Champion, offers shoe customization services. Located in the heart of Singapore at Suntec City and Orchard Central, customers who buy its shoes are entitled to a free name engraving service which is done in-store at the Suntec City outlet.
The Social Foot introduced free laser engraving after a year of store operation, Assistant Marcom Manager Rebecca Leong shared, adding: “We want to provide an avenue for sneaker lovers to personalize their sneakers (and) it is a value-add service which we pride ourselves in, which wasn’t available in the market before our inception.”
Customers will have a choice on the color of the engraving and the specific spot of the shoes they want to engrave their name in.
“Many people want to personalize their sneakers as an expression of their personalities. Being able to customize their shoes will be able to do just that. Many customers prefer to engrave their names at the back of the shoe,” Ms Leong added.
According to Ms Leong, the clean white sneakers like Adidas Stan Smith, Keds Ace Leather and Reebok Classic Club C are the most common sneakers that are bought for customization.
Sneakers bought for customization can be collected on the day itself, with an exception of the high demand period such as Christmas and New Year.
Another shop that offers customization services in Singapore is TK Customs, one of the most established online shoe customization stores that ships worldwide.
Owner of TK Customs, Clement Tan, 28, has been a sneakers fan for over a decade.
When asked about his inspiration behind opening TK Customs, Mr Tan shared: “I chanced upon a pair of customs on Instagram and both my business partner, Ethan and myself decided to get our hands dirty and try one for ourselves.”
“We got our first order in and the rest is history.”
True enough, TK Customs managed to get their business running since then and has racked up numerous orders with Christmas being the most popular period for customers.
Mr Tan and his business partner wanted to bring customer’s ideas to reality and TK Customs offer customers the chance to design their sneakers in any possible way. Services such as sewn on embroidery, hand painted customization and initials customization are available for customers to choose from.
Customers may decide to bring in their new shoe that they bought elsewhere for customization or opt to buy a new shoe from TK Customs website. However, a cleaning charge will be applied if customers decided to bring in their shoes.
“Everyone wants to be unique. Being the owner of a unique pair of sneakers allows the individual to stand out from the crowd,” said Mr Tan.
With more shops opening to provide customization services, sneakers fans like Ian will bespoke for choice.
He said: “With the World Cup around the corner, I want to find a new pair of customized sneaker design that allows me to express my support for my favorite country, England.”