The custom cleat game has become a big success in the world of sports as of late. Football and Baseball players seem to compete these days with how much swag they can bring to the field of play at any given time. Typically this starts from the shoes up…
Having a custom shoe game gives players the unique feeling of having their “own” kicks vs. having to wear Lebron’s shoes, Calvin Johnson’s cleats, Bryce Harper’s cleats, etc. Instead, players in each sport have chosen cleats that don’t necessarily have ties to any given players but rather a more general shoe from brands such as Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour. From there, they are customized and made their own by different custom shoe designers.
I recently caught up with one of the few people behind the custom shoes/cleats business (his Instagram @303custom_cleats, formally @HBZcustom.kicks) and he gave me the inside scoop on how he got started, a few of his favorite pairs, and who he’s done some special customs for.
“When I started customizing shoes, it was a way for me to solidify myself as a viable member to my own small team at work. I tried it out in High School but I hadn’t sprayed since then, which was more than 10 years ago. So when a player needed a pair of cleats “less bland”, I jumped at the occasion. I ordered a cheap airbrush kit off Amazon and started off on this bizarre and insanely fun journey”.
“From there I started testing out my skills on some old shoes and next thing I know a defensive back from the Broncos named Bradley Roby wanted a pair changed from royal blue to navy. It went well and blossomed into a full-scale thing for me. Now I’m getting more and more opportunities to grow my name and prove my artistic worth. I have done shoes for guys like Danny Trevathan, Cody Latimer, Darien Stewart, Shane Ray, Western Kentucky football, Carlos Rodon, Brandon Barnes, and Ryan Raburn. There have been a lot of ups and a fair share of downs but that’s any situation in life. It has taken me months at a time to figure out problems in an industry that doesn’t like to spill the beans on the process. For the most part there are a lot of high-end customizers that want no part of helping you out. Regardless of all that, the future is bright with tons of pro athletes contacting me for work in the near future. Trying to be unique in an industry that’s very fiber in uniqueness is the toughest problem I’ve had to solve in my life. That’s a problem I’m willing to take my time to solve.”
I also asked @303custom_cleats to point out which of the cleats he’s customized have been his favorite thus far?
“I’ve had a bunch of cleats that I held very highly but one pair really stands out. For almost a month the NFL has Salute the Troops and I got to do a pair for Darien Stewart. I have the utmost respect for anyone who has ever served in the armed forces because it affected me personally. My brother was in the Army and served in Afghanistan. So when Darien asked me to paint a pair with digital camo, I was still very new to this whole process. Believing in myself, I took on the task and came out with these”.
“These cleats held a very special place in my heart and they came out well, especially since I was new to the game. They honor everyone who ever served or worse, gave their life so that I can have this silly hobby”.
“As I said before the future is very bright and there isn’t a pair of cleats I wouldn’t customize. People can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or message me on my Instagram page at @303custom_cleats. Yes the names are different but I’m working on getting this operation legitimized and the name was the hardest part!”
More custom cleats below: