Right now the sneaker game is at a point in time where the volume of product being dropped is nothing short of colossal.
Every week is throwing out more drops, and it’s forcing many sneakerheads to look for new and different ways to stand out on the street.
One man who is catering for this demand is the super-talented LA-based visionary Dominic Chambrone, aka The Shoe Surgeon, who is creating some amazing pieces of wearable sneaker art with his beautiful custom builds.
Every piece of footwear that Dominic creates is unique.
Hand-crafted, using premium materials that show great respect for shoe culture, fashion and design and I’m delighted to he could find the time amidst his hectic surgery work to be the latest name in the IDYSM ‘In Their Shoes’ interview series.
OK, stand clear – nurse, this is going to be a good one!
IDYSM: Hey Dominic, how’s LA right now and whereabouts are you while we do this?
DOMINIC: I’m in the studio overlooking the shop space. Been crazy juggling practically everything by myself.
IDYSM: So The Shoe Surgeon project – how did this come about, and why?
DOMINIC: I’ve been doing this since high school over 12 years now and the ‘Shoe Surgeon’ name actually came about in 2005/06 –
Growing up I was always building things from LEGO’s to forts in my backyard.
I then found fashion/clothing as a way of self expression, I think I sharpied orange some DADA shoes in the 8th grade.
In high school I had a connect to get Jordans early so I would buy them early and wear them into Foot Locker and such and it made me feel good to have something before someone else.
Once my whole crew in high school started wearing the same jordans I was done, I picked up an airbrush and sprayed my first pair of camo AF1s… I got the same reaction the next day when I wore them except better because I made them and NO ONE had them… the rest is history in the making.
IDYSM: I’ve had a go at describing the amazing work you do in the copy before this interview, but how would you describe what The Shoe Surgeon is?
DOMINIC: The Shoe Surgeon is a platform for CREATING ideas into reality, recreating, concepts, ideas, thoughts etc… it’s a brand and been my way of life for 12 years.
IDYSM: Who do you make pieces for? Do you get commissioned or do you make them for yourself?
DOMINIC: It’s funny because I started this to make custom stuff for myself but it ended up being me making stuff for friends then clients.
I get commissioned by quite a few people, just haven’t had the chance to make anything for myself yet because I’m so busy with clients orders.
I have over 150 pairs to make for clients and I have like 3-5 designs in the works for myself including Mocs, boots, sneakers etc.. my own line… I’m focusing on comfort on my own pairs.
IDYSM: How long does each shoe take to make and what’s your creative process?
DOMINIC: Anywhere from a few hours to a few months.
My creative process changes for each idea/design/concept but I like to build from my head then see the final rather then drawing it or writing it down.
I source materials from Italy to London from Mexico to Canada… I don’t discriminate, but I make sure I truly like what I buy before I do so and I smell each piece before I get it usually.
IDYSM: What lengths do you go to make each shoe as amazing as possible?
DOMINIC: From comfort, to quality, style and fit.. etc as well as making each pair unique. From sourcing limited/deadstock leathers to paying for the most expensive leathers.
IDYSM: What inspires you?
DOMINIC: LIFE, I get inspired from everything especially things I enjoy such as nature, architecture, people, music, breath, energy, colors, fellow creatives etc and I’m even inspired by the things I don’t like.
My ideas come from a journey in my head and a lifetime I cannot fully explain yet. I’m still learning about myself…
IDYSM: What pieces are your proudest of and why?
DOMINIC: I turned a Supra skytop 3 into a boot and ‘Pendelton and Pendelton’ sent me a letter from their lawyer saying they would sue me if I made more.
I loved the entire piece and how I was able to create it in a cobbler shop and my garage, and from the placement of material to the color choices, the lasering and my favourite the VIBRAM BOOT sole.
I’m friends with Supra and it’s funny because maybe a year or 2 later all these sneaker brands had boot soles on their designs and Pendelton started doing collabs with the likes of Vans and Nike to name a few.
That as well was the first pair I airbrushed in high school and my actual first hand made sneaker from scratch so it was amazing to see and live the experience.
IDYSM: As someone who observes footwear and looks at deconstructing and rethinking product, what are your thoughts on the sneaker game right now?
DOMINIC: Sneaker game fucked up lol…
Man… everyone thinks they know how to make shoes now or even customize for the matter.
Instagram makes it so everyone can see other’s designs and everyones shit is starting to look the same which inspires me and reminds me why I started.
IDYSM: Your Hender Scheme customs for John Geiger generated a lot of attention. How did that come about and what were your feelings on the product?
DOMINIC: I came up with the concept of putting the new balance branding on Hender Schemes’ New Balance model.
Its kind of a way to show these people a different way to look at things.
John was gracious enough to ask me to do the AF1’s and I’m grateful to work with someone who is open to doing different things and not scared of thinking outside the box.
IDYSM: What does the future hold for The Shoe Surgeon?
DOMINIC: A new story, a new brand, a new vision, and an even more SUPERIOR product… NOT MADE IN CHINA … NEVER!
IDYSM: It’s time to ask the time old question that I end all ‘In Their Shoes’ interviews with; what’s on your feet right now?
DOMINIC: Red Nike Flyknit Frees I bought at the Nike employee store when I met with Nike a few months ago.
For more info on Dominic and his work check out this vid.