Streetwear is one of today’s most adaptable styles as it has always relied heavily on self-expression. Within streetwear exists an enduring trend of customization – a trend that has grown in a fast fashion world as more people have become interested in owning a unique piece that lasts and holds personal value. From sneakers to jackets, streetwear pieces are being incorporated into customs as customization itself has become a cultural movement within the style category. It’s even resulted in an artistic niche with customization communities that challenge the status quo of the “hypebeast” and push boundaries through creativity. At the forefront of this community is Angelus Direct, a 117-year-old shoe company that has become the go-to for sneakerheads and artists alike.
Customizing sneakers is nothing new, and neither is Angelus Direct being the go-to brand for restoring and customizing sneakers. Before social media however, the customization community was more exclusive and operated with unestablished rules. Besides gatekeeping the power of Angelus products, many customizers preferred designing shoes that did not look as custom. Tyler Angelos, the CEO of the Angelus Brand explains, “Nowadays, people are more artistic and more free to do all types of things – there’s concepts, anime, attaching things, reconstruction. It’s very trendy, but it used to be that if you painted a shoe that didn’t look like something that Nike dropped, you’d get flamed in forums for not doing it as it should be. I feel that that mentality is a very old head mentality.”
When Angelos noticed the custom movement growing, especially on social media in 2012, he promoted it even more through Angelus on their own platforms. It was one part of how this niche community has grown over the years to become a more “wholesome community” of people enjoying the artistic and fashion aspect of it. Not to mention, the sneaker industry exploded, and streetwear dominated the runway shortly after. From experimenting with concept art, anime art, color swap concepts, and even restoration using Angelus Direct’s tools, the community no longer focused on “worrying about the intricacies of what a custom shoe is or isn’t.”
Besides playing a significant role within this niche, Angelus Direct also partners with sneaker artisans for their sponsored artist program to provide a platform for them to share their talent, with many famous sneaker artists who are part of the program. In addition, the company’s products can help fast fashion pieces become a part of slow fashion as people use products to make any shoe last longer – whether it’s for fixing dress shoes or repainting the iconic red heel of a Louboutin.
Sneakers are only one part of a customization trend that has always been popular. Considering Angelus’s trademark saying is, “Create what you can’t have,” it is interesting to see how many fashion lovers are starting to look beyond what pieces are trending and are starting to incorporate more unique fashion items with value.