We continue to broaden our scope and put the spotlight on sneakers customizers from around the globe. This week, we speak to Bernhard Suryaningrat, founder of Jakarta-based sneaker customization group, Sepatuduatiga.
Back in junior high school, Bernhard took his love for graffiti to another level, by painting on his own sneakers to stand out from the crowd. This caught his friends’ attention, and soon, he found himself working on their shoes too. As the orders streamed in, Bernhard realized he needed a team to cope with the influx, and invited his pals Romario, Amie and Ezha to form a collective. With that, Sepatuduatiga was born on February 1st 2013.
What’s the meaning behind the name “Sepatuduatiga”?
“Sepatuduatiga” is Indonesian for “shoes twenty three”. It’s a play on the phrase “satu dua tiga” (“one two three”), but since we are shoe specialists, we changed “satu” to “sepatu” (“shoe”). The numbers are also used symbolize the top three rankings in just about anything, which is where we want to be. Lastly, it also signifies the date that we started this team.
How did you guys get to know each other, and what is each member’s expertise?
We knew each other as graffiti artists and painted together on the streets. All of us can draw and paint, but we needed to create a job designation for each individual. I specialize in painting realistic artworks and showcasing our work at events, Romario does color work and restoration, Ami handles repainting of sneaker materials and Ezha deals with custom paint jobs for stuff like characters and logos. We do anything, as long as it involves painting. We also have customs that are based on Indonesian culture.
Besides painting, what other shoe-related services do you guys offer?
The team also does sole swaps, midsole touch-ups and even repairs of damaged panels. Check out our Instagram for past examples.
As one of the few customizers that uses airbrushes, can you tell us what’s the advantage of this technique?
We use airbrushes because the result is smoother, especially for gradient colors and textures. There’s a lot more freedom with this technique.
How many hours does the team spend in the workshop, and how long do you usually need to customize or repair a set of sneakers?
We are at the workshop from 1pm till 9pm. For sneakers, we usually need one to three days to work on them, but because of the number of orders we have, we usually tell customers to give us between one to three weeks.
Any strange encounters with clients?
Yes, one of our customers wanted to give a pair of shoes to his girlfriend as a present. We custom-painted it while he waited at our workshop. It took one hour from start to finish.
Where do most of your customers come from?
Our customers come mainly from Jakarta.
What type of customization and repair jobs would you not accept?
We accept almost all kinds of work, except for jobs that require stitching. Right now, we’re in the midst of learning the technique, so in the future we should be able to stitch up and repair certain sneakers.
You mentioned on your Instagram page that you’ll be at House of Vans Kuala Lumpur this Saturday. What’s the plan?
It’s just a meetup with friends there, and but we also want to take the opportunity to do some graffiti in Kuala Lumpur. It’s been a long time since we’ve been there.
Are there any future plans for the business?
We want to buy a van, so that we can move from one place to another. It’s like a tour bus, you know. Our customers don’t have to come to us, we’ll go to them!
See more of Sepatuduatiga’s work on their Instagram page.
This interview has been edited and condensed.