Sneakers by Stei

by Sophie Ross

This year my style changed. Comfort became my focus and trainers slowly became a key part of my wardrobe staples. I slowly began building my collection, I only had a few smart pairs at the start, Filling Pieces and a pair of Adidas superstars were my go-to. Fast forward until now and I have got myself a decent little collection. Including some sick customs. . .

The man behind the (sewing) machine

Let me introduce Stei. A trainer deconstructing master from buzzy Manchester. We met through work and realised we had something in common – a love for footwear and the fashion that surrounds it. He has always taken an interest in fashion and he quotes is “not always fashionable!”. Who wants to be that anyway! STYLE will give you substance guys!

He felt he was always the person that said “oh I don’t care what people think” when deep down he really did. In hindsight, this has potentially held him back. However, in recent years, his confidence has soared and with that comes compliments and more bravery to try new things. HERE HERE|! Customising sneakers has allowed him to push that further and fully explore who the real Stei is. He recently created me my perfect custom shoe, with very little guidance from me might I add. He seems to have a great eye for sussing out the aesthetic of a person. Manipulating fabrics, colours and textures to create a custom sneaker that is personalised and unique.

ROSSY Customs!

As you can see from the gallery below we went for an Air Force 1 Sage. A chunky, sole low trainer in textured black leather. I didn’t actually have black trainers so though they would be the ideal new addition. Stei removed the swoosh, recreated it with black snakeskin fabric and then fixed it on back to front. By slightly overlapping it over the white sole you can create a striking yet subtle statement. We decided that gold was more my thing than silver and that would be the running theme for the rest of the design.

My initials S R were inscribed onto the back of each heel using my blog logo font (its the little things right!). My nickname (Rossy) was added to the medial side and gold lace tips finished off the look. They are perfect!

Stei – Q&A

I decided to catch up with Stei further and find out a little more about him and where his passion began. Check out our mini interview below.

  1. When did your interest in sneakers begin?
    I’ve been interested in sneakers most of my life, starting from the early days at JJB Sports with my parents footing the bill!  Originally my love of sneakers was solely focussed on design and colour blocking but over time I have become much more interested in the culture and history behind silhouettes. Sneakers are a way to express myself and become part of a wider community.
  2. What was your first custom pair? 
    My first ever custom was a pair of children’s Hi-Top Converse for my nephew. I had no idea what I was doing! I had basic paint and created a galaxy style background which for a lot of the process looked awful but actually turned out ok. Then, I gave them a Star Wars flair with characters etc and added lightsabre detailing to the box etc. He loved them and to this day they’re one of my favourites. Unfortunately, they are now trashed….kids!!
  3. Have you always been creative?
    I have always been creatively minded even as a kid. I was always the sort of person who had something but wanted to make it my own, change certain elements to put my own spin on it. My creativity came from my Mum so it was encouraged from an early age, as far back as primary school when she used to help me make the egg displays for Easter Haha! That still didn’t stop her from going white in the face the first time I took a knife to a £150 sneaker before even wearing it haha!
  4. Do you like to keep colours neutral or do you feel the brighter the better?
    I personally like bright colours and anything that makes me stand out and create interest. I recently customised a pair of Air Max 90s whereby one was bright pink and the other bright blue. It was super fun to wear them on holiday in Barcelona and break a few necks haha! I do own some more muted sneakers but they are few and far between and rarely stay that way before I get the paint out!
  5. Who or what do you go to for inspiration?
    I try and draw inspiration from everything in life, whether that be cities I visit, music, history etc. The idea creation is by far the most exciting part of a custom as you explore the various avenues of inspiration and watch your design start to evolve and come together. I recently created some Air Jordan 1s with a Manchester theme which really drew on the recent times in the city and the inspiring community spirit which grew from that. Given that it’s my home city I really pushed myself to learn new skills such as sewing and push beyond just painting shoes as I had in the past. To date, they are still my most treasured custom.
  6. Where do you see your skillset leading?
    My skillset has definitely evolved over time from colour block painting to characters and more in-depth paint jobs. I am currently pushing myself to learn the art of deconstructing shoes and reconstructing them using different, more unusual materials and amending the silhouette of sneakers to truly create something new and bespoke. I have learned a lot to date but with each custom, I learn a little more. Recently I invested in a sewing machine so I am excited to see what opportunities that brings. One of my last customs was the new Atmos Air Max 2090 silhouette whereby I removed all the upper mesh to reveal the lower camo layer. This gave the shoe a real pop and has generated a lot of positive comments on how the sneaker now looks, including from the Director of Atmos!
  7. If you were a shoe, what would you be and why?
    Haha, great question. I’m desperate to say an Air Jordan 1 as it’s my favourite sneaker but unfortunately, I am not blessed with the frame of a basketballer! Sooooo I would have to say…. maybe a Nike x Sacai! I love how the shoe is a nod to the archives whilst taking a new direction by fusing two different sneaker silhouettes into one, a bit like myself working in finance whilst being highly creative and passionate about art haha
  8. And finally, what would be your dream shoe to revamp?
    My dream sneaker to customise would be a Nike MAG…the one Marty McFly self laces in Back to the Future! It’s futuristic ahead of its time and wildly over the top which is a bit of me. The drawback…the last sale of a Nike MAG was £22,766….so not much room for error haha!

Obviously, due to isolation, I haven’t been able to show them off as much as I would have liked. However, I know that soon as this lockdown is over they are going to be a key piece within my looks. Also, items so personal will be something I keep forever. These are unique to me and nobody else in the world will have these – which I love!

You can follow Stei on Instagram here. Get in contact with him and design your dream custom sneaks!

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