Would-be cobblers are sole swapping, repurposing and remaking high-quality custom footwear creations all across the globe. However, not many of these mad scientists get tapped on the shoulder by Budweiser or an NBA team when those organisations need an exclusive size run of extraordinary customs. The man who lives that dream is Richie Range of Garrixon Studios (formerly known as Relevant Customs). Just moments after sending off a thousand pairs of his custom sneakers, Richie gave us an insight into what it’s like to be one of the biggest players in the custom game.
Sewing Seams for Custom Dreams: Richie Range Interview
Date: August 30 2019
By: Mykal Hoang
How did you get started in the industry?
The first shoe that I ever customised was doodling on my Air Force 1s at school. After that, I started painting small orders for friends. I got my bearings by cutting up Gucci Swooshes and Louis Vuitton toe-boxes. Dapper Dan was definitely an early influence in terms of using luxury materials and applying them to regular garments.
What makes Garrixon Studios unique?
We digitally make and save patterns so that we can use them in the future. This gives us the ability to grade the sizes. If Jordan Brand wants 100 pairs for their executives, we are then in a position to lay that all down and digitally cut every size and piece almost to exact specifications. That saves us a lot of time on production.
What do you think is important to include when you design something from the ground up?
I would look at it two ways. Sometimes you do things for love, and sometimes you do things for money. With shoes, you do things for hype or you do things for ease of construction. If you’re about to design 10,000 pairs for a large corporation, you’re going to design that very differently to something you just want to hype up for Instagram. Understanding the longevity of any project is definitely a key.
Which colabs do you think you have really nailed so far this year, and why?
We did a project with King Saladeen (visual artist and sneakerhead) where we developed a shoe that matches a vinyl toy he released. That was the first time in my history of over 15 years in the industry where I saw hundreds of kids line up for a $1000 shoe. We’ve also released the Louis Vuitton x Off-White Jordan 1s, the Louis Vuitton ‘Human Race’, and the ‘Chester Cheetah’ Air Max with Dank Customs.
Tell us about your work with adidas for the AriZona Iced Tea collaboration.
We did the first release with AriZona Iced Tea which was a Jordan 1 custom for last year’s pop-up store. We facilitated the brands together, but the shoe was manufactured by adidas. We also helped them out with seeding and product placement for the big sneaker people in the industry. I wore my pair to the release in New York, and actually needed a police escort to get back to the car!
Would you ever sell a sneaker at a pop-up for $0.99?
I think that was an oversight on the brand side. It was a little too risky to invite the New York City population of sneakerheads to come collect shoes for 99 cents when we’ve been drinking AriZona Iced Tea our entire lives.
Another recent project that you worked on was the Mr. Peanut ‘Crunch Force 1’. What was your involvement there?
Our good friend Gary Vaynerchuk of Vayner Media was actually commissioned to make this project come to life for Planters Peanuts, so they tapped us in to assist Seth Fowler with the design. We also handled the manufacturing, sampling and delivery. We sold a couple of thousand pairs, which has probably been our largest order to date.
You were a judge at The Sneaker School, and Garrixon runs its own workshops. What advice do you have for someone who is hoping to follow in your footsteps?
My best advice would be to understand this is a very tough and complex job with fluctuating difficulty from project to project. I thoroughly encourage everyone to do their homework. Do you want to design? Do you want to be a manufacturer? Do you want to sample and create concepts? Do you want to go into sales? What is your dream job? You need to understand that there is a lot of time that goes in to becoming a master of anything. And it’s definitely better to start sooner rather than later.
That’s some real solid advice. Last question. What else are you working on?
A couple of things that obviously can’t be discussed, but we’re working with the largest brands in the world in the footwear and retail space, and that’s always fun because it’s not just one person you’re dealing with, but an entire vision. We have a lot of creative silhouettes coming, as well as the possible launch of a new independent footwear brand that will disrupt the space and give the power to the people. Stay tuned!