In this series, we talk to a new wave of sneaker customizers coming out of Singapore. This week, we feature Velvethoop Customs, which specializes in putting cartoon and pop culture characters onto sneakers.
For Billy Chow, founder of Velvethoop Customs, painting has always been his passion. His first foray into art was by painting Gundam model kits, eventually he started working on sneakers to cover up their worn out appearance or to create unique colorways. The avid basketballer counts the Air Jordan 6 his favorite silhouette, and when he isn’t busy doing national service, Billy spends his free time fulfilling his growing list of custom sneaker orders.
What got you interested in sneaker customization?
One sneaker customizer that inspired me to do custom sneakers is Mache Customs from the States. I love that his customs are always creative and original. The first pair of customs that I did was a pair of all-black Air Jordan 2011 that I owned. I wasn’t a fan of the colorway and decided to customize it myself with just paint markers. The more I painted, the more I enjoyed the entire process…from visualizing designs to actually making them materialize. I begun sharing photos of my own customized kicks online and realized that there were people out there who wanted their shoes customized too. That was when I started Velvethoop Customs. My idea is simple: To help sneakerheads create unique and affordable custom sneakers.
What type of designs do you specialize in?
I specialize in painting cartoon characters and patterns based on them. For example, I painted the Air Jordan 1 Flight Strap “Cell”, which was based on a character from the Dragonball anime series.
What are the most notable designs you’ve produced?
One of my notable designs, which is also on my own sneakers is the Air Jordan 9 “Deadpool”. I’m a huge fan of this anti-hero, so having him on one of my sneakers is a must. Another notable pair is the Nike Roshe One “Gudetama” that I customized for my girlfriend. She’s a huge fan of Sanrio’s Gudetama, so it was really fun applying character onto the sneaker.
Which sneaker brands and silhouettes do customers usually want customized?
Most of the sneakers I’ve received custom orders for are Air Jordans; from Air Jordan 1s to Air Jordan 11s. I have also received several custom orders for other Nike shoes and even Lacoste.
Have you received any strange requests?
So far there hasn’t been any strange requests. But I do have a strange encounter, and that’s a pair of completed custom sneakers sitting in my room. I completed it months ago but the owner has not collected it. I’m not really sure if he has forgotten about his sneakers or he doesn’t want them anymore.
What sort of customization jobs would you not accept?
I try not accept requests that want me to recreate a custom that someone else has done. To me, it is a form of respect for the original artist’s work and I believe I have no right to steal the design that he or she came up with.
Is sneaker customization gaining popularity in Singapore? Why do you think so?
The sneaker community in Singapore is still growing and I believe sneaker customization will start to gain more popularity among sneakerheads. Many sneakerheads want exclusive sneakers that no one else has and I believe one way of getting it is through sneaker customization. One can simply come up with their own design or have a pair of one-of-one sneakers that tells your own story.
For a look at more of Billy’s work, check out Velvethoop Customs’ Instagram page.