After designing and working on sneakers for over 16 years, SBTG’s Mark Ong decided to take inspiration from one of the most significant customised sneaker projects in history.
After breaking his foot in 1985, Michael Jordan had a custom rendition of the AJ1 created for him to help rehabilitate. It was a very lo-fi custom job that required separating the uppers from the midsole to tuck in the straps, stabbing a hole at the ankles to insert the straps that lead to an ankle brace.
‘This was a personal project that was placed on the back burner for the last 15 years since I started my company Sabotage in 2003,’ says Ong. ‘I still find myself thinking about it and romanticising over the pictures every now and then so finally, with the help of a friend and leather smith SECONDNATVRE, I was able to construct this pair to its closest specifications after much scrutiny from Heritage Auctions. It felt like all the years of working on sneakers had led me to this point.’
Along with a lot of studying and making sense of the functionality to construct the ankle brace, SBTG hunted down all the necessary hardware. The most stringent requirement? An OG pair of 1985 AJ1 ‘Chicago’.
Peep the creative process shots in the gallery above. If you love the handiwork, you can get it done yourself at SBTG.