Sophomore customizes students’ Air Force Ones


Tomas Lee

Sophomore Tomas Lee shows off one of his customized shoes. Everything, down to the laces, has been hand-painted by Lee.

Grace Cochrane, Staff Writer

Sophomore Tomas Lee has a not-so-common hobby: customizing shoes. A few sophomores have gotten their shoes, specifically Nike Air Force Ones, painted by Lee, making their white shoes more colorful and giving them a special touch.

Nike Air Force Ones are a very basic white shoe that many students at BSM own. Since Lee customizes these shoes as you ask him to, students at BSM will be able to express themselves in a different way. The  cool designs on their shoes allow students to express themselves in a new way. There are so many different options for designs. I like painting shoes because there are endless designs that you can draw and paint or either stitch fabric to the shoe,” sophomore Tomas Lee said.

Customized shoes stand out from their plain white counterparts because of the different design options available. It is very easy to spot a pair, and the sight can prompt students to ask for a pair of their own. Lee walked into school with his first pair and people immediately asked about them. “I wore them to school the next day expecting nothing, but to my surprise, everyone loved them,” Lee said.

I think he does really high quality work and it’s fast, too, which is really nice… and he uses high-quality paint that doesn’t wash off or fade.”

— Max Erra

Shoe customizers have shops on Etsy or their own websites to order from. Some also make YouTube videos about their customizations. This is where Lee got his inspiration and where his interest began. “My inspiration started from a guy many probably know named Marko. He is a YouTuber who paints different shoes like Vans or Air Force Ones. I thought it looked interesting, so I decided to try it out myself. I ordered the paints from Angelus and the shoes from Nike. When they got here, I already knew what design I wanted to do, so I started. The shoe took about 2 days to lay down all the coats and add the finishing touches,” Lee said.

Some people are making careers out of this hobby. “Sneakerheads” (sneaker enthusiasts) love variety in their shoe collections. Shoe customizers can help them with this by making their shoes one-of-a-kind. Tomas said this might be his path one day. “I feel like right now painting shoes is a big deal. A lot of famous people have been ordering from different ‘customizers’ or designers. I’ve done 3 different pairs for friends and many others want me to paint theirs. So maybe with a little more practice, I might go for it,” Lee said.

More students are starting to ask Lee to customize their shoes. Shoe customization is seen as a great way to express yourself. One of Lee’s customers thinks that other students should become clients. “I think he does really high quality work and it’s fast, too, which is really nice… and he uses high-quality paint that doesn’t wash off or fade,” sophomore Max Erra said.