Asics X Carhartt GLIII
A few months ago I approached Matty Cole, a custom sneaker designer. I enquired whether he could create for me a unique pair of trainers as an employee of Carhartt and a lover of the Asics Gel Lyte III.
We came to the agreement that we would make two pairs of shoes, one for him and one for myself. They would both be styled around the same theme, but with two very individual designs. No matter how awesome Matty’s pair was going to be, we have different tastes and I wanted something a little plainer. Plus, I’m a sucker for a coloured or black midsole.
The key to bringing my idea to life was to encapsulate the company’s well-known Hamilton brown within the trainer. Matty managed to blend the colour himself and matched it perfectly. The midsole, for me, had to be solid black as it’s something I find aesthetically pleasing. Matty didn’t just apply a ‘black paint’, he used a paint that’s imported from the States called Neopaque, made by Jacquard Products. A paint that once applied and heat set stays flexible, working much better for a midsole. He then sealed it with a combination of finishers to help protect the paint. Matty’s attention to detail is like no other!
For the detailing, I wanted to keep it subtle and low key, something you’d have to squint or look twice at to notice. Matty and I discussed this at length, and after much deliberation we decided to put Carhartt tags on the spilt tongue, hidden behind the laces and on the inside of both shoes. We then placed the iconic Carhartt logo on each heel. Finally, on both of our pairs we added the golden lace holders. A touch that fitted the ‘Work in Progress’ ethos of the brand and was in keeping with the industrial feel.
Whilst we were creating our custom pairs, North Face also released their take on the Asics Gel Lyte III. They were head turners, the craftsmanship that went into them had people questioning whether they were real or a collaboration. That’s exactly what we wanted to achieve with our Carhartt kicks. We live in an age now where customising trainers is more possible than ever, however it takes passion, love and care to create the perfect pair. It is far too easy to mess-up these jobs. I have seen some of the tragedies from custom work first hand and whilst it can be funny, it’s shitty for the buyer to receive an ugly pair of sneakers. If you’re going to get a custom made, make sure you put all you can into it. I’d happily pay handsomely again if Matty was the man in charge.
Which leads me nicely onto his appraisal. I gave Matty an initial idea and some tweaks along the way, but other than that, it was him showing me the stages every week to which all I could reply was; “awesome, can’t wait,” “sick,” “how did you do that?” “are they finished yet?” I sat back and watched this project evolve from a vague, vector into something truly unique. It is unquestionable that Matty is one of the best custom artist and restorers in the UK, if not Europe, I would even go as far as to say the US too.
People who take shoes apart and put them back together again, people who perform shoe surgery and don’t just add a lick of paint here and there are real artists. I feel this is fast becoming a very saturated market with people doing dodgy customs regularly. I understand we all have to start somewhere, however, it’s Matty’s willingness and bravery to try new things that I love about his work.
Matty is the man of the hour, he has given you what you see here, I’m just telling the story. If you are thinking of getting custom work done, I urge you to go to Matty, you won’t be disappointed. But don’t sleep, he’s is a busy guy, juggling handfuls of projects at a time. I can only see Matty’s waiting list getting longer in the near future if you don’t act fast.
If anyone wants to learn the basics of restoring or customizing their kicks, Matty will be holding classes in the next 6 months.