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Custom Kicks For Marketing

Converse Art Shoes

— August 26, 2007 — Fashion
Here's yet another form of guerrilla street art. A San Francisco DJ created a unique business selling customized kicks. Roman Weingartner, aka Romanowski, 38, spray paints white Converse high tops which he buys for $40, and resells for $100 after adding his creative stamp. The new craze is spreading among creative urbanites and has even spun into an advertising medium.

"Even though street artists have been scrawling on shoes since break dancing was cool the first time, circa 1982, art shoes are now a bona fide trend," reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

"The current interest in 'customs' as they're also known, is an outgrowth of successful marketing collaborations - deals between street artists and major shoe companies like Nike and Adidas," reported the Chronicle. "The collaborations may have hit a mainstream zenith last month after 14 artists were hired to help promote The Simpsons movie by redecorating a pair of Vans, the brand favored by Bart Simpson.

"Each artist's rendition was reprinted on just 200 pairs, making the shoes highly desirable when they arrived in specialty stores like Huf on Sutter Street in San Francisco. Vans from "The Simpsons" collaboration are now moving for as much as $500 on auction and trading sites."

"Still, the market for custom sneakers seems to be thriving among collectors. Lucas Mast, a San Francisco writer who covers kicks at, referenced an episode of last season's Entourage, in which the main character, Vince, forked over $20,000 for a pair of Nikes frescoed by Fukijama, a fictional graffiti artist. After the episode aired, the real pair of shoes, which were produced specifically for the HBO show by Nike designer Mark Smith, went for $9,000 on an eBay auction, Mast said."

One artist called his shoes "cartoon literalism," explaining that they were "a street-level response to mass-market shoe companies; the customer agrees to purchase the corporate-brand but, in return, owns the right to trick them out."