Despite what seem like a seemingly endless array of sneaker models and colors in existence today, the competition for having the tightest kicks on the block is a heated one; it’s getting harder to find that “one of a kind” pair.

In what started out as a necessity to stand out from his high school friends who were all wearing the same shoes, turned into a unique career path for LA-based Dominic Chambrone (AKA The Shoe Surgeon). Today, the 29-year-old has a thriving business where he customizes sneakers for A-list clients and regular Joes alike – many of which cost in the neighborhood of $1,000 after he’s spun his magic.

Says Chambrone in an interview with Footwear News:

As a high school freshman, I had an older cousin who had an original pair of 1985 Nike Jordan 1s. I didn’t know what they were, so I wore them to school. I had an older brother who played sports, and all his friends had Jordans, and all the older guys were giving me props — they were so pumped that I had the original Jordans on. Then we started getting Jordans early from someone who hooked us up, but then my whole crew in high school started wearing the same shoes, and I was like, ‘I can’t do this, we look like dorks,’ so I picked up an airbrush and painted a pair of Air Force 1 all-white mids into camouflage, went to school the next day and got an even more intense response from friends and classmates. Ever since then, it was about progressing and changing from paint to glue to sewing to actually learning how shoes are made.

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More recently, The Surgeon has been retooling classic and contemporary models to give a fresh take on iconic classics with various sole-swapping and upper customizations. Among others, these include a hybrid of a Vans Old Skool upper with a Nike Air Force 1 outsole in a collaboration with ROKIT:

The final selling price? A cool $500.

Be sure to check out the rest of The Surgeon’s impressive collection of bespoke sneakers. Be forewarned – his waiting list for a custom pair can take up to a year!

Author

Simon is a Brooklyn-based industrial designer and Managing Editor of EVD Media. When he finds the time to design, his focus is on helping startups develop branding and design solutions to realize their product design vision. In addition to his work at Nike and various other clients, he is the main reason anything gets done at EvD Media. He once wrestled an Alaskan alligator buzzard to the ground with his bare hands… to rescue Josh.