Custom sneakers have become common place these days. Everyone has them: athletes, celebrities, and artists. They're worn on NFL fields, on NBA courts, and shared across social media. To get a better scope of what it's like to make these shoes, Sole Collector's Full Size Run caught up with Mache, the custom sneaker guru to the stars.
During the episode, he talks about a pair of sneakers he gifted to Kanye West that, supposedly, Adidas didn't want him to wear in public, making custom sneakers for LeBron James and Lonzo Ball, and what it was like to make the cleats that Stefon Diggs wore when he made the legendary catch last weekend against the New Orleans Saints.
Mache also reveals a pair of “Free Meek Mill” cleats that will be worn by Jarius Wright this weekend as the Minnesota Vikings play the Philadelphia Eagles.
Every morning that Daniel Lister wakes up in his Georgia home and is able to put on a his sneakers, he’s reminded of how lucky he is to be alive. As he reaches down and struggles to pull his Air Jordans onto his prosthetic left leg in his, he’s helping himself heal on the inside, far away from the battlefield in Afghanistan that claimed his limb, his marriage, and a chunk of his sanity.
Lister has gained notoriety on Instagram, amassing over 68,000 followers, through his daily photos of him wearing his sneakers with his prosthetic decorated with Marvel Comics superheroes, but he had to go through a living hell—a life riddled with physical and emotional pain and addiction—to get where he is today.
His legs have always affected his shoe choices. As an overweight child, Lister had to wear corrective footwear, a la Forrest Gump, before he could purchase his first real sneakers. “I was a big-ass baby. I was super fat. I had bow legs because my bones were too soft and couldn’t hold my fat ass up. I had to wear corrective shoes with a bar between my legs,” he says. “The first pair of actual sneakers that I got was the “White/Cement” Air Jordan III in ‘88. I remember getting those and being so excited about it. They changed everything.” He also fell in love with “Aqua” Air Jordan VIII after Michael Jordan wore them in 1993 All-Star Game, and it fostered an appreciation for shoes that wouldn’t fade over the years.
Lister’s passion for shoes has also driven him to start a YouTube channel, where he routinely gives a view of his life from his sneaker room. He posts unboxing videos, shows off his collection, and expresses his views on topics within the footwear industry. The latter is also found on a podcast called The Monday Midsole, which he co-hosts Buckeye City Sole, Polos n Jays, and Unboxed Mike, where they This group of friends has become a support system for Lister, and he’d learn to build a similar brotherhood with them like he had with his fellow soldiers.
The now-36-year-old Lister says he never had much of a decision in life to do anything other than join the military, which he did in 2002. He grew up in various places across the country as a military kid and didn’t know where else to turn when it came time to figure out what he was going to do with his life.
“The reality of it is that I got married super young, cause I’m fucking dumb,” Lister says. “I had to figure out a way to pay bills. I needed medical insurance, because I started having babies. The only way I could do that is through the military. I knew that was how I could pay my bills.”
The Sept. 11 terror attacks didn’t completely inform Lister’s decision to join the military, but they made it easier for him to meet the requirements to join the U.S. Army, as branches lowered requirements for new recruits after 9/11. “I have a GED. I didn’t do so good at high school. When 9/11 happened, it made it easier for me to join, because they started accepting people with GEDs again,” Lister says. “They knew we were going to war, and I joined in February .”
Lister ended up doing four tours in the Middle East (three in Iraq and one in Afghanistan), and it made him feel alive in a way that he couldn’t capture back home in Georgia. The prospect of being in a war—or a fight for that matter—is supposed to chill someone to their core. Violence, and the threat of being killed, is never supposed to be exciting, but it gave Lister a calmness and camaraderie with his fellow troops. “I got to Iraq in September 2003, and that was the only time I was ever truly afraid,” he says. “After you get shot at the for the first time, that shit changes very quick. You’re no longer afraid. There’s anger and power that goes along with that. I was more comfortable there than I ever was back home.”
His job was to clear the way for other troops to make their way across the battlefield, He would blow up bridges, build them, and make sure fields were safe of mines. “If there was something in our way, I’d blow that shit up,” he says.
During his final deployment to Afghanistan, Lister went from safely leading fellow soldiers through war zones On June 2, 2010, he took the wrong step. Lister’s foot landed on an improvised explosive device, and it went off. “I got lit up,” he remembers. “I had 17 soldiers on the ground. I was doing my job. After a bad step, it blew me up. I never lost consciousness during the event. I remember every detail of it. My foot was gone immediately after the explosion. My right leg was ripped from my ankle to my hip.”
It took about 45 minutes for the medics to get to him, Lister recalls. He was then put on a Blackhawk and flown to the closest aid station where he received 20 blood transfusions to help keep him alive. “Once I got to the aid station in Afghanistan, I don’t remember anything else,” he says. “I think they had me in a medically induced coma. They had to perform a ridiculous amount of surgeries just to stabilize me. With my injuries, by all accounts, I should be dead. It’s a miracle that I’m up and walking. I got blown up on June 2 and I hit Stateside on June 3. Mail doesn’t move that fast. It takes longer for Nike to send me a pair of sneakers than it did for the U.S. military to get me out of Afghanistan.”
Lister says that the medics weren’t able to stabilize him and he kept dying. He was then taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where he received serious treatment for his injuries and started an 18-month program to help his life get back to as normal as it was ever going to be ever again. This included revisions on his stump to make it better fit his prosthetic limb. It wasn’t just his right leg that was affected, but doctors also had to fix the tib-fib in his right leg, both of his femurs, and his right hip. His left hand, right arm, and both of his knees had to be reconstructed, too, on top of six skin grafts.
“I was miserable,” he says. “I spent four to five months in a hospital. I wanted to stay in the Army. The Army is how I define myself. Throughout my adult life, that’s what I was. This explosion took that from me, and I had to become something different. If it was just the amputation, I would have been fine. But three out of four of my limbs are trash. I wanted to stay in, because I had grown up in combat since I was 21 years old. I became a man in combat. I was more comfortable there than I was being a father or a husband.”
That’s when it began to set in for Lister that he was going to have to leave the military and do something else with his life. “I went through the tests to see if I could stay in, and I failed them miserably,” he says. “I had to start over. Who was I going to be now?”
Back home in Georgia, riddled with the pain and stress leftover from his nearly life-ending injury, Lister relied on drugs and alcohol to get through his days. After nearly dying, he chose to get sober.
“I had gotten to the point where I was hiding in my room and drinking and popping pills,” he says. “The doctors said, ‘Look, if you want to die at 35, keep doing what you’re doing.’ I said, ‘Bombs can’t kill me, booze isn’t going to kill me.’’
At the height of his addiction, Lister was consuming a half an ounce of weed, an eightball of coke, and a handle of Crown Royal every two to three days. He took the money that he was spending on drugs and alcohol and put them into sneakers, which he didn’t own many of at the time due to the divorce he was going through.
“There was a time when I had a whole lot of shoes, but I also had a really pissed off ex-wife,” he says. “My shoes didn’t survive the divorce. You’ve seen pictures of when people have their cut-up sneakers? I had maybe 10 pairs that made it through that extravaganza.”
It wasn’t just the pursuit of sneakers that inspired Lister to get sober, but rather the effect it would have on his children. “I’m a single father. Unfortunately, my kids got to experience what it’s like to live with an alcoholic and a drug addict. I had to get sober for them,” he says. “I didn’t want to die and have my kids in the foster system.”
Once he became sober, the sneakers started to pile up. “If you go from buying an eightball of coke every other day to not doing that, you’ve got some income,” he says. “So I went and got all these sneakers that I missed out on back in the day.”
The sneakers started to roll in, and Lister started posting them on his Instagram account, One Legged Lister, and he noticed that people were engaging with his content because they rarely saw sneakerheads with a prosthetic limb. “I started posting sneakers that I was wearing everyday on my Instagram, then it started to take off. A lot of people feel shame about [having a prosthetic]. They think it’s ugly. I think it’s the shit. That’s my leg,” he says. “What really hits me is when these kids reach out to me who have cancer or have gone through a tragic accident. They say, ‘You make it OK for me to be this way.’ Those messages are the most humbling experiences I’ve ever had. That was never my intent, it was just about, ‘Here are the kicks I’m wearing today, what do y’all think?’”
There have been negative remarks made on his Instagram page, too, but Lister doesn’t have to police the comments — his followers do it for him. “You’re bound to get people who are like, ‘Ewww gross. Put your leg away,’” he says. “I don’t have to say anything. They get the sort of attention where they have to delete their own comments. Their negativity doesn't define who or what I am.”
He’ll never get his leg back, but Lister has found some sort of peace within his life, and it’s partly thanks to sneakers. His collection has boomed to over 200 pairs and he’s a regular at sneaker conventions, where kids come up to him to say hi and take pictures. But he still feels the pain every day—that won’t go away. He says his day-to-day pain is consistently a four or five on a scale of ten, but the psychological torment is something that won’t go away. “People can relate to pain, but they can’t relate to PTSD, because they can’t see it. It will be one of the hardest things I have to go through. It’s brutal.”
Lister is piecing his life back together, one sneaker at a time, but it’s not the shoes themselves that make him happy: It’s the relationships he’s forged through collecting. “This sneakerhead community has given me my life back, to some extent,” he says. “It’s made me feel whole again. My friendships that I have now are worth more than my entire sneaker collection to me.”
There's only one thing that matters in life: Money, and Rashed Saif Al Belhasa has it by the bundles. The teenage YouTube sensation has made a name for himself by living an excessive lifestyle and documenting it online.
On today’s episode an email from the Human Resources department gets circulated through out the company, acknowledging a few employees who went above and beyond the call of duty. Tony shines the light on these folks for their hard work. Later on The Understudy has a few words of his own on being left off of the “list”. Jordan Brand also sends over a box with some new sneakers, that will be dropping this weekend!
One of the most talked-about moments at the inaugural ComplexCon was the Sneaker of the Year panel, which featured a roundtable of experts arguing over the best sneaker releases of 2016. This year's edition upped the ante in every way possible as it became another can't-miss event at ComplexCon 2017.
Those who weren't able to attend the ComplexCon(versations) panel now have full access to the debate.
Complex's own Joe La Puma (and host of Sneaker Shopping) once again handled hosting duties this year, and returning panelists DJ Clark Kent, Wale, and Russ Bengtson brought their expertise to a heated debate that also featured Lonzo Ball, Victor Cruz, Aleali May, and J Balvin.
Along with breaking down the top 10 sneakers of the year, Wale and Clark Kent took some time to critique Lonzo Ball and his ZO2 shoe, but also rounded it out with some praise for the Lakers star and the Ball family.
Check out the full panel debate above to find out which sneaker took the No. 1 slot, and keep it locked to Complex in 2018 as we'll be rolling out over a dozen ComplexCon(versations) episodes including My Beautiful Dark Twisted Panel with Rick Ross and Mike Dean, The Disruptors with LaVar Ball and Complex Networks CEO Rich Antoniello, and The Rap Generation Gap Debate featuring Cam'ron, Kyle, ASAP Ferg, and more.
Nothing feels better than getting a new pair of sneakers. On the other hand, nothing feels worse than ruining your new sneakers. Cleaning your sneakers has become a multi-million-dollar industry, and everyone's had someone try to sell them a can of cleaner or protector at a sneaker store in the past. There are plenty of tutorials online about how to clean your sneakers. But what about when three hapless sneakerheads try it all out.
Well, this is what happens.
The boys over at Sole Collector's YouTube give the perfect example of how not to clean three different sneakers, of vary materials, with three different products.
Fresh off teaming up with hip hop icon Nas to expand his Sweet Chick chicken and waffles empire, founder John Seymour designed a Bespoke Nike Air Force 1 at 21 Mercer, pulling subtle elements from the restaurant itself. When he settled on a design he liked, he had a second pair made to gift to his legendary business partner. Get the full story on these chicken-inspired Air Force 1s in the latest episode of One of One.
If a sneaker doesn’t resell for a ton of money, was it ever released in the first place? With the secondary sneaker market being a billion dollar industry, it’s put more focus on what a shoe’s worth is after it releases than what it costs in stores. Good luck getting a pair at retail, bud. You’ll have to fork your dollars over on eBay or Flight Club. And that’s what you’ll need to do for the latest Air Jordan collaboration, Pharrell x Adidas sneaker, or shoe that drops only at an obscure pop-up shop half-way across the world. We’re not talking chump change either, people are shelling out major coin to cop some of these exclusive kicks. Here are some of the Most Expensive Sneakers of 2017.
To gather the info, we used StockX to find out the average resale values of all the sneakers.
Off-White x Air Jordan 1
Resale value: $1,100
The “best” sneaker of the year is also one of the most sought-after, which is the case for the Off-White x Air Jordan 1. The release for the shoe was so mad that Nike had to postpone it, with the SNKRS app shutting down due to the high demand. If you wanted this year’s top shoe, you needed to pay top dollar.
Air Jordan 1 Royal Satin
Resale value: $1,590
I’ve been very critical of Jordan’s deceptive release practices in 2017, but the Satin version of the Air Jordan 1 “Black/Royal” showed a dedication to storytelling. The shoes only dropped at Walters in Atlanta and Active Athlete in Houston, two mom and pop shops that carried the shoes when they first releases. That rarity and regional exclusiveness drove up the resale market for these satin joints. And, oh yeah, people love “Black/Royal” Air Jordan 1s.
A Cold Wall x Nike Air Force 1
Resale value: $1,631
Unless you have a pile of money or a plug in London, you probably didn’t get your hands on the A Cold Wall x Nike Air Force 1. Only released at a pop-up in in the Big Smoke, the sneakers were a throwback to classic Air Force 1 styling and were even given The Harlem Lace Job in the press photos. Talk about authenticity.
Just Don x Air Jordan II “Arctic Orange”
Resale value: $1,646
Just Don and Jordan Brand dropped the third installment of their Air Jordan II trilogy this year, this time releasing them in sizes for the whole family. The men’s pairs are going for bread, too. It all makes sense that the sneakers, being inspired by luxury handbags, actually go for the price of a luxury handbag.
Adidas Pharrell NMD Hu Race Trail “Cotton Candy”
Resale value: $1,751
Pharrell had a really hot year with Adidas, and one of his Hu Race NMD Trail sneakers were only sold at BBC in New York City. Guess what? They resell for way more than the pairs that were sold everywhere. Surprised? Not in the least.
Air Jordan 1 “Spike Lee”
Resale value: $2,397
Besides Michael Jordan, Spike Lee is the face of the Air Jordan, coming in with the Air Jordan III to sell it as his Mars Blackmon character. In the film She’s Gotta Have It, Mars wore a pair of Black/Royal Air Jordan 1s while having sex, and now Spike has his own Air Jordan 1s. Done up in a similar colorway, the sneakers featured Mars’ face on the heel, were only sold in Brooklyn, and retailers for $300. Now they’re re-selling for over $2,000. Call that a cultural cash-et.
Adidas Futurecraft 4D
Resale value: $2,892
Adidas was supposed to release this sneaker to the public by the end of the year, but it hasn’t hit retail yet. But the brand did give away 300 pairs to friends and family… .and most of them ended up on eBay. They feature cutting-edge technology in the midsole, but they look badass, too, even if the majority of people who get them saw them as a way to cash in.
Adidas Pharrell NMD Hu Race Trail “N*E*R*D”
Resale value: $5,185
Pharrell and Adidas figured out the hype train this year, and it came to a culmination at ComplexCon with a special pair of Pharrell’s Hu Race NMD Trail that was made for the release of N*E*R*D’s new album. Kids literally fought over the shoes, which drove the resale price up even higher.
Chanel x Adidas Pharrell NMD Hu Race Trail
Resale value: $11,135
Pharrell got Adidas to collaborate with Chanel on his signature sneakers and released them at Colette for the retailer’s send off after 20 years of business. The demand was so great for them that they had to get a court bailiff to read off the auction winners. Coupled with the fact that there were only 500 pairs made, and that put this shoe as one the most in-demand releases in ages.
Air Jordan III “Grateful”
Resale value: $13,250
DJ Khaled is one of the most divisive people in the sneaker game. For some, he possesses the enthusiasm they’ve been looking for. For others, anything he touches instantly makes the product uncool. But Jordan Brand rewarded his faithfulness to the company this year with this own Air Jordan III. The shoes were given away to select folks who bought his new album, which means very few pairs are circulating. Sneakers are good investment, indeed.