Angelus Direct Presents: Sydney Kay October 18 2016

What is the measure of success for an artist? Some might say sales, some say name recognition, others say a little bit of both. In 2016 though, eCommerce and influential websites have changed what success in the art world looks like, but when you're featured on certain sites, you're there. Love it or hate it, the website Hypebeast has the pulse of fashion and culture. So when on artist is featured on there, sandwiched between a Kanye feature and a new season drop, it's a big deal—you're doing something right.
For Sydney Kay, one of our sponsored artists, this was the case. Sydney was kind enough to take set aside some time from hustling, creating, customizing, and going to school full time to talk to with us. 
The custom sneaker world knows you as Sydney Kay. Can you give us a little about your background and how you got into art?
From a young age I’ve always been creatively inclined, but it wasn’t until high school that I took a serious interest in pursuing a career in art and design. Actually, at one point I was certain on going to college for soccer, until I experienced a career-ending injury that pushed me towards what I’m doing today. I gave up my athletic career at the age of 17 and instead found a passion for art. Now, I’m 20 years old currently working towards a degree in design at an art school in Cincinnati. 
For a time, the oil spill effect has been a huge hit. How did you come up with the idea? What does the creative process look like?
The idea came to me while working late in my studio one night. Creatively I was getting burnt out from painting 30+ pairs of Wavy roshes when I decided to step back and figure out my next move. I knew I wanted to continue making more unconventional work, which is what led to the creation of the “Oil Spill” concept. I had a brand new pair of triple black AF1’s sitting on a shelf, so I broke those out and started prepping. Unlike every other pair I didn’t have a predetermined design, I just picked up a pair of shoes and started painting, making design decisions as I went. Somewhere throughout the process, the paint started to have this weird iridescent effect even though I was only using flat colors. It reminded me of the way oil reacts with concrete, which inspired the entire concept, including the name, packaging, and product shots. It was all just a way for me to push through my creative burnout, I never anticipated it to be as popular as it was.
Speaking of aesthetic, your trademark work is often subtle and monochromatic, but refined. Personally, I think your work looks like it would be perfectly at home in Dover Street Market as a display. What are some of your main creative inspirations? 
My aesthetic is actually a result of my newfound interests in contemporary art and fashion. When I first got into sneaker customizing I was just mimicking the big guys. Being a young artist fresh out of high school, I hadn’t defined my own artistic vision, so everything I was making was directly influenced by other sponsored sneaker artists. I did a lot of floral themes, a lot of sports references, but after a while I started realizing that wasn’t me. I knew I was doing something wrong when I realized that I wouldn’t wear any of my own work. The Wavy Roshes were the first step towards my own unique style. I still feel like I have a long way to go, but now my creative inspirations lie outside of the sneaker world. 
Sneaker customizing is as popular as ever, but you've separate yourself by thinking outside of the box. For instance, you've been doing these really cool custom insoles, how did you get into that? What's next?
I have many different interests outside of painting sneakers. Creating these highly detailed, graphically-driven images on insoles is a way for me to expand the media I’m working with so I can utilize my skills in design. I’ve found that it’s a really effective way to depict a concept without jeopardizing the simplicity of the shoe itself. I prefer there to be a balance between art and wearability. When I say wearability I’m not talking about the physical durability, but the functionality of the design itself. I would never wear a pair of sneakers with a hand painted, photo realistic portrait on the side—to me thats not wearable. But there are other ways to get that concept across: through insoles, packaging, product shots, etc. I like working with more than just the outside of a sneaker, which is why I’ve taken such an interest in custom insoles. I’d like to continue pushing that and ideally expand beyond just footwear.
Your work made it to Hypebeast, which can either be an awful or amazing site. How was the response to that?
The response was incredible, regardless of how you look at it. I got an overwhelming amount of both positive and negative engagement. Almost every comment on Hypebeast and Highsnobiety was harshly critical, but I sold out almost instantly after that feature. It inspired an insole collab with Footcanvas shortly after the release, which was a lighthearted acknowledgement of all the hate anonymously targeted towards me. I decided to have 10 of them made to send with every “By Any Means Necessary” order. 
How did you turn customizing into a business? Are there ups and downs? Ebbs and flows?
There are most definitely high’s and low’s to turning customizing into a business and it’s different for every artist trying to do so. I made the decision a while ago to stop accepting client orders—which is a strange decision especially in the business of custom sneakers. It’s completely opposite of the way every other customizer is running their business, but it’s what works for me. Creatively, I can’t function just doing client requests, so instead I make limited releases of my own designs. It’s difficult to keep up when taking on 10+ orders at one time, but at the same time I get 100% artistic freedom and the willingness to work at my own pace without any restrictions. 
Lastly, any advice for the young artists/customizers/hustlers trying to monetize their creativity?
I’m a 20 year old struggling college student going to school full-time while holding a job and trying to run a business. If I can do it, anyone can. 
(Source: All images courtesy of @syndeykaycustoms)
Be sure to follow Sydney at @syndeykaycustoms for updates and check out the website: for exclusive custom work.

Angelus Direct Presents: Talking Customs with Dank October 10 2016

Jake Danklefs is a true OG in the sneaker custom game. Under the name Dank & Co, this Texas-based artist is one of the most sought after sneaker customizers around, producing extremely detailed custom work that often make the original sneaker look boring. Everything about his art, from the painting sneakers, sole-swapping, to the detailing the box itself, is a reflection of his creativity and hard work ethic. Luckily, Jake was kind enough to take time from his daily grind to answer some questions about his background, his preferred tools of the trade, and his influences!
The custom sneaker world knows you as Jake Danklefs. Can you give us a little about your background and how you got into art?

My name is Jake Danklefs, better known as Dank. The Dank name came from the first 4 letters of my last name. I have been working  the art realm since I was a little kid, all types of art from sculpture to painting to architecture and design and all the way into welding and automotive work. I get that from my Mom. She is very creative. But I got the sneaker love from my brother. He always had the freshest stuff in the late 80s and 90s and I was just a ball of Play Dough picking up everything he was putting down. You can kinda guess where that went from there.

What are some of your main creative inspirations? 

My biggest influences as a kid were my mom and my brother. As I started to research and get into other things, I would soon realize that big influences in my life became Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles and Ray Eames, Chip Foose, Jesse James, Nigo and James Jebbia.

Your custom work is super detailed and vibrant. What's your go-to for tools—airbrush, straight up paint, combination of both?

My main tools are a combo of airbrush and hand painting. I do ALOT of both. Airbrush is something rather new for me. Only been doing that for a few years now, but its mainly for speeding up the process and adding fades. I have not mastered the detail side of the airbrush.

Does working with different types of sneakers challenge you to use different types of creativity? 

Of course, and I hate making things that are not wearable and sometimes you need to go to extreme measure to make sure something has the look that you want and also has the durability. If I could give any advice to a a beginner is always make sure you are doing everything you can to make your art wearable and durable.

How does doing work for clientele, affect the overall creative process? 

I try not to let it affect what I want to do at all. Most people come to me with an idea and an understanding that I will take their idea and do things they never thought possible with that idea. Creative freedom is very important and let people know that I am not the artist for them if I start to see that being compromised.

Your custom work is definitely a go-to for inspiration. How did you turn customizing into a business? 

That I can not answer. I had a full time job 4 years ago and was doing this on the side during that time and a quit because my dad got sick. So I started working more doing this and business just kept coming. If I would have known I would have made this into a full time job I would have done a lot of things differently. I would have a different name, different website, IG name, etc, and I would have legally legitimized my business alot sooner too.

Lastly, any advice for the young customizers out there getting started?

Again, do what you can and think outside the box to make sure your product is durable. All the products are out there to help but you should also know when to stop and not alter certain things. Invest in a good camera, take good pics and post them. Keep your audience talking about you. Dont let them forget about you. Be open and develop relationships with everyone you meet. You never know who they know and so on. Networking is important. Lastly, have fun and dont get caught up in things you dont want to do.

All images courtesy of @jwdanklefs

Angelus Direct Presents: A Q&A with True Blue Customs October 02 2016

This week we touch base with Billy Hobbs, better known to the custom sneaker world as Lexington, Kentucky-based True Blue Customs. Billy's work is always eye catching and crisp, and finds it was on to the feet of some big name clientele. He was kind enough to do a quick Q&A with us, so if you need some inspiration or looking for solid advice from one of the greats, check it out.

Can you give us a little about your background and how you got into art?

"Well, growing up I was always into art. Drawing mostly, I loved doing portrait work. I'd draw for hours as a kid, shoes, cars, people, whatever. I Didn't get into much paint work till after I was a little older, in the real world working in a custom autobody shop. I began to play with an airbrush a little, doing minor artwork on whatever I could get my hands on."

What are some of your main creative inspirations?

"I really love doing theme shoes, something that lets me get a little creative.  Basic color changes are okay, but when a client gives you a nice theme and allows you to really get crazy, it's a lot of fun. I draw inspiration from everywhere, other artists, TV commercials, etc. You'd be surprised where you can find great ideas and inspiration."

Your custom sneakers are always incredibly detailed and vibrant. What's your go-to for tools—airbrush, straight up paint, combination of both?

"I do a combination of hand painting and airbrush work. I really dig breaking out the fine brushes for detail work."

While sneaker customizing is as popular as ever, customizing cleats is picking traction as well, how did you get into cleats?

"A couple years ago I was contacted by Jerome Williams, from the Phillies at the time.  He wanted several pairs of cleats for the season, everything from a tribute to his mother, to a desert camo pair. From there, I gradually built up a clientele of about 30 major/minor leaguers. Mainly by word of mouth, and of course shoutouts by some specialty pages on IG geared towards baseball players."

What's it like switching between customizing sneakers, cleats, skateboards, there was even a helmet in there. Does painting on different canvases challenge you to use different types of creativity?

"It's a little challenging, every canvas is its own animal. From prep work, to the finisher, they are all a little different, but it's nice to do different things every once in awhile."

For those with a keen eye, they might see some of your clients out on the diamond. How does doing work for clientele, affect the overall creative process?

"Every client is different, some guys know exactly what they want,color placement, logos, design work, the whole deal. Others need a little guidance in determining what will be practical, and the look they are going for. Then you have the guys, that say 'I trust you, just do your thing.' I try to accommodate any client request as we begin the process."

Your custom work is definitely a go-to for inspiration. How did you turn customizing into a business?

"I had done it off and on since the early 2000's, but got serious as a hobby about 3 years ago, I started doing restorations and a few smaller customs for some local guys. I ended up doing a pair for Willie Cauley Stein of the Kings, then the Kentucky Wildcats. It was a pair of gold XI's, with a blue sole, blue accents. He wore them in the NCAA tourney 2 years ago, and the shoes ended up all over the place, IG pages, sneaker blogs, Twitter.

It was crazy for a few days after that. That pair kinda got the ball rolling and got my name out there. About a year ago, I sat down and looked at where I was headed with this hobby and took a leap of faith, and the rest is history.  It's not everyday you can do what you love for a living."

Lastly, any advice for the young customizers out there getting started?

"Practice, practice, practice. There are a lot of cats out there in the game just looking to cash out and take people's money. Don't be that guy, put your heart and soul into each pair you do, and push yourself to get better. If you genuinely love the art, it'll make you a better artist."

There it is! True Blue Customs is the real deal when it comes to a fully-functioning custom business. Be sure to check out Billy's page for more.

Shattered Backboards September 25 2016

Variations of the iconic Shattered Backboard colorway have been popping up on the #angelusdirect tag. While it seems like an appropriate trio of colors for the upcoming Halloween season, it has nothing to do with holiday. That being said, if a crafty sneakerhead was feeling inventive this Halloween, recreating the moment that inspired this colorway would be 100% the best costume.

Like the other variations of the Air Jordan 1, the Shattered Backboard is noted for it’s unique colorway—specifically the use of orange along with black and white. From far away, a pair of Backboards look they could be the coveted Chicago 1’s, which feature a red, black, and white color scheme that pay homage to Jordan’s team, the Chicago Bulls.


The orange, though, that’s where Jordan history gets interesting. The colorway itself is a reference to a jersey MJ was wearing at a game. Yes, there was a time when Jordan hit the court without his iconic Bulls jersey, and no it wasn’t during an Olympics match (or that Wizards stint, but we’ll forget about that).


The year was 1986, and Jordan, along with some of the era's up-and-comers were playing an exhibition match in Italy. The team wore a an incredibly 80’s looking jersey that featured a bright orange and black color scheme.


Normally though, MJ wearing something wouldn’t be cause for alarm, but it wa what happened during the game that made history. As the name suggests, Jordan pulled off one of the most revered dunks in the history of the game. Basically, he rocked it so hard the backboard of basket literally exploded and rained down glass on his competition.


So, before the reversed color way drops this October, why not make you're own? These custom Laser 1’s that @thatshoeguy are a clean spin on the on legendary shoe.

(Source: @thatshoeguy)

Not to mention, @kends2376 laced up a pair of Dunks with the Shattered colorway.

(Source: @kends2376

So when someone adds orange, black, and white to a pair of Nikes or Jordans, they’re tapping into basketball history. Pick up some orangeblack, and white paint then make your own pair. Be sure to tag us at #angelusdirect, so we can see what you created.

Any Given Sunday (or Monday or Thursday) September 11 2016

If you happened to be around a television this past week, you know that football season has commenced. That means legions of fantasy league players come out of the woodwork, everyone becomes an expert on statistics, and your local team are heroes/villains every Thursday, Sunday, and Monday, and that one friend gets lost in a black hole of football. 


For sneakerheads, football seasons means another type of shoe to paint, collect, and customize.

(Source: @kreativecustomkicks)

As unlikely as it may be, you may have seen footwear’s arguably biggest name, Kanye, pop up in football news this week. Unfortunately, it wasn’t because he interrupted a game to talk about Beyoncé and why she had the best Super Bowl performance ever last year. Instead, it was the Yeezy Boost Cleats he’s been sending some of football’s biggest, and up-and-coming stars.


First, a pair of high top cleats modeled after the Yeezy Boost 750s turned up on Denver Broncos star Von Miller’s Twitter.

(Source: Millerlite40)

Then, Houston Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins unveiled a pair that looked very much like the sneaker that started the craze, the Yeezy 350 Turtledove. More pairs turned up on the feeds of Minnesota Vikings' Adrian Peterson and Buffalo Bills' Sammy Watkins—all were confirmed to be ‘official’ adidas Football cleats.

(Source: @Nukdabomb)

This seems to be the first instance of one of the big sportswear companies stepping into to a more high fashion or perhaps “forward” cleat. Compared to the typical technical and utilitarian football cleat, these are in another league. Basically, they’re the same aesthetic Kanye’s been pushing with his Yeezy Season line, but they’ll be put to the test on the gridiron this season. So far, it seemed like Miller’s faired pretty well on Bronc’s season opener. 

Of course the custom sneaker community knows that for years now, athletes have been pushing their on-field style to new boundaries with custom cleats. This isn’t a surprise as athletes as a whole have gone from plugging their sponsor with generic warm-up gear to being named GQ’s man of the year and hanging out at fashion shoes. So it seemed logical, at least to the sneakerheads, that some more of the more fashion-forward players would take their style sensibility with them into the game. And on the flip side, some big names in sneaker customization broke into the mainstream by way of ESPN.


(Source: @_theheyyman)

While Kanye’s foray into cleats is pretty cool, having 1/100 Yeezy’s might not be as rare as a one-off from a guy like our sponsored artists _theheyyman and True Blue Customs.

(Source: @_theheyyman)

(Source: @truebluecustoms)

With so many up-and-coming sneaker customizers out there perfecting their skill, there’s something to be said for having a one-of-one pair custom cleatsmade for you.

(Source: @tkcustoms)

Wild Style September 03 2016

On the surface, graffiti art and sneaker culture seem to have a loose association with one another. This can be contributed to hip hop culture, which ironically, some hip hop heads and graffiti historians argue have nothing to do with each other.


However, graffiti and hip hop came out of the South Bronx, so their histories intersect to some degree. In the 1980’s, the South Bronx had an abundance of abandoned buildings where early bombers could practice their handstyles and block parties where DJ’s experimented with mixing records.


While MC’s and DJ’s did their own thing, graffiti writers did theirs and the two subcultures grew with competition. Rap battles focused on who was the best MC, while graffiti focused on who could get up the biggest piece in the wildest place. These two movements caught the eye of the mainstream, as shown in films like Wild Style and Style Wars grouped graffiti and rap as part of the same youth subculture, which became known as “hip hop.”


Rap and graffiti were about expression, and forerunners in the rap scene were mixing up their personal style with brand and logo heavy pieces. Of course, a big part of customizing their aesthetic was sneakers. While Nike and hip hop seem seem like old friends these days, they weren’t necessarily the first shoe hip hop heads started collecting. In 1985, German-footwear giant adidas first became associated with the NYC’s rap scene by way of the “Kings of Rock,” better known as Run–D.M.C.


Like the Hollis-Queens natives, early graffiti crews could be found rocking the class adidas Superstar.


At the same time Run–D.M.C. was doing the all-adidas fit, Nike dropped the first ever Jordan which became a hit with both sports fans and hip hop fans. Sneakers, specifically from Nike and adidas, became a staple in the golden years of hip hop style.


As rap music was tapped into by a wider audience, certain images became associated with hip hop culture—the classic shot in front of graffiti, the sneakers, the pose. Graffiti thrived on its own, becoming a definitive aspect of the urban landscape, especially in New York City.


Some of the first promo shots and album covers were taken out in the streets, where graced the building walls were graced with the era’s best graffiti.


Almost thirty years after, the sneakers, hip hop, and graffiti all comfortably exist in the same community. In terms of art and personal expression, sneaker customizers are taking an approach similar to the early graffiti artists—anything can be your canvas. 


You still see you favorite rappers posted up in front a huge piece, but you're might also see than likely to see them wearing graffiti in the form of custom sneakers.

(Source: @chadcantcolor)

Ultra Boost Giveaway | Till August 31st 2016 August 05 2016

Water Your Boosts Giveaway

Rosé Sneakers July 21 2016

When the phrase ‘rose gold’ is thrown around, it’s usually in reference to jewelry. Rose gold is the subtler version of your classic gold that’s not as audacious platinum. It lands somewhere between something a teenagers bedroom, a washed out tumblr page, a glass of rosé, a bracelet Drake would wear, and… a pair of Jordan's?


In terms of clothing and footwear, rose gold is not as audacious as gold but not as loud or potentially tacky as hot pink. Instead this color walks a fine line in-between the two worlds—it’s kind of like the something for everyone shade.

(Source: @jennizerr)

Rose gold, or more perhaps more broadly, pale pink, is the ‘it’ color of the moment. This isn’t a new color of course, rose gold jewelry first came to popularity in Russia about 200 years ago. But right now, the pale pink/maybe it’s salmon/maybe it’s copper/maybe it’s rose gold color hue is popping up in almost every form of retail—from rings, to shoes, to clothes, to iPhones. It should be noted, that the color gods at Pantone declared Rose Quartz ‘Color of the Year;’ it’s not quite ‘rose gold’ per say, but it’s for the undiscerning eye, it’s very similar.


In the world of jewelry, rose gold has gone in and out of popularity. Some years standard gold, always the classic, is in. Other years, gold is gaudy and the more chilly platinum is king. Then some years, in between the gold/platinum cycle, rose gold because the hot shade for your pinky ring. Now rose gold hasn’t just made its stamp on jewelry, the tech world hopped on to this as well.

It’s not entirely clear if the recent boom in rose gold’s popularity was kicked off by the Apple iPhone 5S, or if Apple’s product marketing was simply a symptom of the times. But with Apple’s ‘it’s not pink’ drop, more companies, tech-based and others, followed suit. Now ‘rose gold’ and other hues of light pink can be found everywhere. 


It wouldn’t be entirely true to say pink sneakers are a new trend in men’s footwear. Pink itself has been a staple in the discerning Dipset historians wardrobe since Cam’ron showed up with the all pink fit. But one could argue that Cam’ron’s hue was more of a neon pink specifically than ‘rose gold.’ 


Light pink/rose gold certainly hasn’t been a stranger to women’s footwear, but the men’s sneaker world is following Apple’s lead with the rose gold hue (or colors close to it). Earlier in the year, adidas dropped a Raf Simons collaboration that was perfectly unisex.


Since we’ve only hit the halfway point in Summer ‘16, there’s still plenty of time to get your own rose gold (haters will say it’s pink) custom sneakers. Pick up a bottle of Angelus Petal Pink Paint and get to work. Be sure to drop an #angelusdirect on your customs so we can see them.

(Source: @NikeByNay)

Custom Slides July 17 2016

Sometimes, there is nothing worse than the idea of having to put shoes on. This could be for a number of reasons—maybe you're in full chill-mode, or maybe it’s July and 100° outside. Whatever the reason, sometimes wearing a pair of sandals is totally appropriate. But if you’re not trying to get caught in the middle of the roast session, you might want to avoid flip flops or Birkenstocks, the preferred sandal at your local Starbucks.


Wearing sandals is a dicey topic when it comes to men’s fashion. Cam’ron famously made fun of Jay Z for wearing flip flops with the line, “How's the king of New York rocking sandals with jeans?” Mind you, Jay was basically a middle aged dad at that point in his career (even though this was pre-child and 10 years ago).

Clearly though, Cam-ron has a preferred sandal and the flip flop isn't it.


This is where slides come into play. Slides are like the acceptable, cooler cousin of flip flops. Some might call them shower shoes, but don’t let the haters deter you. Slides have long been a staple for post-game, post-party, pre-breakfast, it’s a 100° outside footwear scenarios.

(Source: @stayfreshcustoms)

While the sandal itself has been around for a couple 1,000 years now (Jesus rocked a pair), the slide is a contemporary spin that somehow allows the wearer carte-blanche. Basically, they slides allow you to look cool and stay cool in a situation that calls for sandals. The basic slide is essentially a strap across the top and a footbed; not hard to design, but it wasn’t until the 1970’s that the model which is popular today was created.


In 1972, German footwear giants adidas came out with the Adilette marketed as a post-game shower shoe that was easy to get on, easy to walk around in, and kept the player’s feet comfortable. Since its inception, the Adilette crossed over into the commercial market as a somehow fashionable, but easy-to-wear foot covering when your levels of caring in the “very low” range.


The strange thing about the slide is that it can move between worlds with relative ease, so you might see a pair dressed up during NYFW or dressed down in the locker room, on your favorite rapper, or a regular Joe at the grocery store. 


Maybe you’re not sold on slides because they have come in a limited color palette. Most ready to buy versions of the slide are going to be pretty basic; so black and white, unless you’re buying a pair of Gucci’s. That’s why we recommend doing what you do best and turning them into a pair of customs with Angelus Brand paint. You might not be familiar with the process, or need a little inspiration, so we made a step-by-step video for your custom slides need.

Of course, the Angelus Brand YouTube channel has more than How-To videos for slides. Be sure to subscribe for more tips and tricks and other information to meet your custom sneaker needs.

Custom Faded Huarache Giveaway July 01 2016

Angelus Direct | Rainbow Huarache Giveaway

Sneaker Con Los Angeles June 24 2016

Sneaker Con is coming to Los Angeles this weekend, and that means some of the rarest grails and a wildest custom sneakers will be in one place at one time. This year’s festivities will be hosted at L.A. Live by the  BET Experience on June 25th and 26th. Of course, Angelus Direct wouldn’t miss the fun, so we’ll be there with our Easy Cleaner Kit and gift cards.


Beyond the hype of seeing who has what on their feet, Sneaker Con is a lightning rod for a growing number of small-business entrepreneurs that carve out a living in an industry where hundreds of billions of dollars go to massive corporations. Historically, buying sneakers, especially rare ones, left you with too little options; over the years this has changed drastically.


Most sneaker companies offer direct-to-consumer sales that increases traffic to their own retail stores and websites. This will be Option A for some sneakerheads. Think along the lines of a Niketown or an adidas store in terms brick-and-mortar operations (physical locations). While going to a footwear retailers own storefront is beneficial for customer experience, these stores are usually located in high density, or metropolitan cities with limited quantities.


Then of course there is the [insertyourfavoritefootwearbrand].com website; this is Option B. In the digitial age, shopping is mobile and you can buy a pair of sneakers wherever you have wifi or a signal. The problem with eCommerce (online shopping) is that almost everyone who also wants those sneakers, say the Supreme Jordan 5’s for example, has a smartphone. Option B is limited now. Unless you have mad Internet skills or use a ‘bot,’ which is basically software that runs tasks like “add size 10 to cart” at hyperspeed, Option B isn’t happening.


For customers who don’t live close to ‘single brand’ retailers, or couldn’t score want they wanted on the company's website, option C is your mass market retailer. These are the sneaker, clothing, and sporting goods stores that you might find at malls and shopping centers in medium-sized cities. A mass market retailer like Foot Locker accounts for $5 billion in footwear sales because they have 4,000 accessible locations. Typically, they sell multiple brands, but might have limited supplies of the more hype releases. Foot Locker had Yeezy’s, but only at certain locations (typically larger markets) and you better believe people lined up, so Option C might be a bust too.


Option D is your boutique sneaker stores, but those will have lines and websites that get overloaded with eager buyers. Option D is similar to Option A and B, so you will face pretty much all of the same challenges. Supplies might be even more limited, stores might only be in metropolitan cities, or they might not even sell the product online.


This leaves many desperate sneakerheads with Option E, which is by far the most controversial option; Option E is the resale market. The resale market thrives on exclusivity and markups on holy grail sneakers that hit the +300% range. According to Josh Luber of the sneaker-centric online marketplace StockX (formerly known as Campless), the secondary market on sneakers has generated something close to $6 billion.


Of course, those $6 billion will not be made at Sneaker Con, or other sneaker conventions alone. But the steady rise of Sneaker Con represents the shift away from how, where, and by whom sneakers can be purchased. Depending on how you look at it, the last buying option for rare sneakers leaves everyone happy—companies get paid, resellers get paid, and sneakerheads come up (if they’re willing to pay a markup).

Be sure to stop by and say what’s up or check out the live sneaker customs to see our acrylic leather paint in action!

Authenticity Guaranteed? The Battle Against Fake Sneakers. June 16 2016

When the name Kanye West pops up online, people are bound to pay attention. People want to know what he said (or yelled), what he did, and for sartorial crowd, what he wore. It’s no doubt that Kanye is the biggest trendsetter right now. Not only are his Yeezy’s are the most sought after sneaker, when he wears anything else, they become a hot commodity. This massive following is great for Kanye’s personal brand, but it also fuels a legions of bootlegs and bad imitations that try to capitalize on his popularity.


Earlier today, Angelus Direct-sponsored artist Mache teamed up with Chronicled, Inc. to lace up Kanye West and his daughter North with two pairs of custom adidas for North’s third birthday. One might assume that child of two of the biggest celebrities will get the wildest gifts, but a pair of custom sneakers from the customizer is particularly special.


Many call Dan "Mache" Gamache the master of sneaker customs, and this is for good reason. Mach might be the most seasoned customizer, with 10+ years of practice to perfect his craft. Over the past decade and more, Mache has built a who’s-who clientele list that include sports stars, musicians, and even sneaker companies. So it goes without saying, if Mache is involved, the result isn’t simply a ‘custom sneaker’ but a work of art on a sneaker.


It’s no doubt that these half-uncaged adidas Ultra Boosts are a hot commodity since Kanye was spotted wearing a pair. The question is, because this color scheme is Kanye related, will more olive-and-green Ultra Boosts customs start to pop in the #angelusdirect thread? Probably.


The Angelus Direct supplied paint job itself is proof enough that these sneakers are authentic, one-of-a-kind Mache’s, but they also have a neat little tag on them to further prove that. The sensor tag is from a San Francisco based tech startup called Chronicled Inc, a company that aims to digitally authenticate sneakers with a smart chip.

(Source: @chonicled)

Marshawn Lynch is one of the backers behind the Chronicled. If you didn’t know, Beast Mode is a huge sneakerhead. He took his love of sneakers to the football field with a pair of custom cleats done by artist SolesbySir (who we featured some months back); so Lynch’s involvement is no surprise in the company.

Ideally, by establishing origin, cataloging proof of purchase, and categorizing sneakers into a database, Chronicled aims to eliminate fake sneakers. Recently, custom sneakers have been brought up in the conversation about authenticity. Most fakes are identifiable, but with so many sneakers are being customized, and so many designs being stolen, things get a bit murkier. With an established customizer like Mache as an early adopter, Chronicled might be the next tool in creating truly one-off customs.

(Source: @chonicled)

It’s unlikely that up-and-coming customizers and sneaker artists will knock off Mache’s custom adidas for Kanye and North, but you’re bound to see more customs “inspired” by his work; this is where the smart tag comes in handy. Right now, the custom sneaker community is working diligently to police itself for fakes and stolen designs, as we recently experienced (obviously don't steal other people's work).

With tech-based innovation like Chronicled, authenticity is a screen tap away for rare and customized sneakers.

Last Chance on Jordan XI's June 03 2016

There’s nothing more classic than a pair of sneakers with a gum sole. The gum sole was popular in the 1970’s, but soon fell out of style. But in the recent years, the gum sole came back with a vengeance. Take the upcoming retro drop of the Nike Air More Uptempos. When these came out in the 1995-1996 season, you wouldn’t have found them with a gum sole, but the gum adds a classic look to these.


You might see the term gum sole thrown around casually when you see that tan color sole. This phrases implies that the sole is made from a natural Isoprene rubber gum, which comes out trees and turns to that color tan or “natural” color when processed. In reality, the gum sole you’re seeing is made from polybutadiene, a synthetic rubber which resembles natural rubber. Typically, polybutadiene goes into tires and golf balls so at least you’re going to have decent traction. These adidas Sambas, first released in 1950, featured a gum sole specifically for indoor soccer.


That being said, gum soles are a clean addition to any sneakers. Summer after summer, both Nike and adidas drop with their classic sneaker with a gum sole. Last year, the Jumpman himself was seen with a pair of Air Jordan XVI lows in Black and Gum.


It was predicted that these sneakers were going to be released sometime in 2016, but the halfway point of the year, things don’t look good so far.Instead, Jordan brand is releasing the XI Low in Navy and Gum, which is close, but not quite Black. So if you haven’t yet, enter the contest. Head over to the @angelusdirect Instagram for that last minute entry.

Angelus Direct-sponsored artist Mache made his own Black and Gum XI’s a few years back. These things looked as good, if not better, than the unreleased samples spotted last year. 

(Source: @mache275)

So if you don’t win or if Jordan doesn’t release this colorway, make your own. We have all the paintSole Bright, and dye that will do the job. For example, customizer did a full sole swap on these XI ‘Space Gums.’

(Source: @ff_footwear)

While some people swear by the feel of gum soles, there’s no denying the look. Be sure to pick up a bottle of our Vachetta Acrylic Leather Paint, the closest color to gum you’ll find.

Hare Customs May 28 2016

It’s no secret that the 90’s are back with a vengeance. So every time a pair of 90’s-inspired customs pop up, it's great to explore the history of that inspiration. We saw these insane Air Jordan VII’s that customizer Future Kicks did, and we took a trip down memory lane.

(Source: @futurekicks)

The ‘after’ picture on the right is the original design that Future Kicks came up with. The ‘before’ sneakers on the left are a retro of the infamous Hare VII’s, which are one of the holy grails of OG Jordans.


In 1992 alone, Michael Jordan won a gold medal at the Barcelona Olympics, won a championship ring and MVP title in the NBA Playoffs, and starred in a series of commercials with the iconic Loony Tunes character Bugs Bunny. The original Air Jordan 7 was released in 1992 at the height of Jumpman-mania, and by 1990’s logic, pairing the MJ with a cartoon rabbit made perfect sense.


Coinciding with the release of the Air Jordan VII was Nike’s partnership with Warner Bros, which graced the world with a round of advertisements that pitted the Air Jordan and the Hare Jordan against each other on the court. As you might know, this was the predecessor to the cinematic gold that would be unleashed 6 years later...


The VII originally dropped in 5 different colorways, including one Olympic-themed scheme for the Barcelona games, but the white and red colorway known as the “Hare” became the defining colorway for this shoe. While Jordan wore the black and graphite VII’s, better known as the ‘Bordeaux’s’ because of the wine colored accents, MJ’s opponent wore the white and red accented sneakers, which became known as the ‘Hare’s.’


It’s no doubt that the Jordan VII’s have come to one of the most sought after sneakers in Air Jordan history, but if you take a step back, they really don’t get any more 90’s than this. The silhouette on the VII’s is iconic, but the colorway is pretty spot on to the aesthetic of the era. You had bright colors thrown into a loose pattern, which looked like something you might find on an oversized, all-over tee-shirt as was the style.


But sneaker lore actually points the iconic VII pattern not to the 90’s fad, but something far more interesting. As the legend goes, renowned Nike designer Tinker Hatfield came across a West African pattern that inspired the bold colors and asymmetrical layers used on the VII’s tongue and insole accents, which nowadays, are synonymous with the VII. Consequently, fashion of the early 1990’s was defined by patterns. You wouldn’t have to go far to see a pattern vector, or the repeating images and color schemes that make up a design, on everything from shirts to pants. So while the VII’s pattern may have found inspiration from an Afrobeat poster, the overall look meshed into 90’s aesthetic perfectly.



Nowadays, the Hare pattern finds itself on more than just retro’d VII’s. Sneaker customizers have been paying homage to this historic slice of pop culture. Not too long ago, Angelus Direct-sponsored custom sneaker artist Dank put his spin on Air Jordan VI’s.

(Source: @jwdanklefs)

And these ‘Hare’ Jordan 1’s were done by David Z Customs.

(Source: @davidzcustoms)

Lastly, these VII’s by the Sneaker Fairy took the ‘Hare’ color scheme and ran with it.

(Source: @sneakerfairy)

So if you're inspired by the 90's vibes and want to create your own pair of custom Air Jordan VII's or 'Hare'-inspired, pick up some bottle of our acrylic leather paints. Be sure to tag #angelusdirect so we can see what you came up with.

Beware: It's Friday the 13th May 13 2016

If you’re superstitious at all, then today probably has you on edge. You might be like Scarface saying “every twenty seconds got me peeping out my window.”  It’s Friday the 13th, so all you cautious types should probably avoid black cats, ladders, sidewalk cracks, puddles (so you don’t mess up your kicks) and dudes in hockey masks.


And even if you’re not superstitious, you’ll hear people talk about Friday the 13th because it’s such a huge part of pop culture. Today, a handful of custom sneakers showed their love for the unluckiest day of the year. If you're paying homage to the iconic horror film series yourself, Angelus Direct's Autumn Red acrylic leather paint is the perfect.

(Source: @sbdkustoms)

Back in the middle ages, the number 13 was established to be the most unlucky number. The reason why Friday the 13th is considered the unluckiest day of the year is still sort of a mystery. But regardless of the reason, people still stress out today. Something like 20 million people in the United States bug out on Friday the 13th. That’s like the entire population of Florida thinking that something bad is going to happen to them today. 

(Source: @kreativecustomkicks)

This fear is completely understandable if you have a creepy guy in a hockey mask and a Yeezy Season-type outfit hanging around your neighborhood. Back in 1980, the idea of an unlucky day went full psycho killer-mode with the film Friday the 13th. This film series out Jason Voorhees, one of the most famous movie monsters, into our pop-culture lexicon. The irony of course, is that Jason and his signature hockey mask was not featured in the original film. Spoiler Alert: The killer in the first F13 film was his mom, but as far as we know, she’s never popped up on a collaboration or custom sneaker; it’s always the hockey mask instead.

(Source: @jimflo12)

Over the years, this film franchise has become powerhouse in the slasher genre, and Jason has evolved with each film. It wasn’t until Friday the 13th, Part 3 that the hockey mask even came, but that is the version of Jason Voorhees that made a lasting impression. After 12 films, Jason’s body count was a big as his cult following.

(Source: @hjartistry)

Almost 30 years later, when someone mentions the Friday the 13th series we usually think of the hockey masked villain and his bloody machete stalking down a street on a cold Friday night. His presence was probably the unluckiest thing to happen to people in the film but a fan favorite for horror buffs and artists everywhere. 

(Source: @swbartwear)

So if you’re superstitious at all, maybe you should stay in today and paint sneakers instead. And if you’re friends want to go camping by a lake, definately say no because there’s a chance this guy is going to be there.

"Donuts. Is There Anything They Can't Do?" April 28 2016

The pink donut is one of those classic images that is rooted in pop culture. While the exact origin of the iconic pink donut motif isn’t totally clear, the image itself is a go-to for pop art. From Dunkin’ Donuts to Odd Future to custom sneakers and custom handbags, it shows up everywhere; even Banksy took it on.


Boyarde Messenger is a master of pop art style. She also happens to be a Angelus Direct sponsored artist. Unlike the majority of our artists, she uses our acrylic leather paint on a very different canvas—luxury handbags. Her work might be the only reason you'll see a pink donut on a Hermes bag, but it looks incredible nonetheless.

(Source: @boyarde)

Depending on what age you are, you might see the pink donut and think of different things. Easter coasters and old heads might see this image and think of Dunkin’ Donuts.


The Massachusetts powerhouse has been around since 1950. Their logo has changed over the years, but the pink and orange colorway may be the origin to the mysterious pink donut scheme.


Sneaker customizer Ecentrik Artistry recently paid homage to America’s favorite donut shop with this Dunkin' Donuts custom.

(Source: @ecentrikartistry)

Even if you didn’t come up anywhere near a Dunkin’, you’ve probably seen the pink donut on television in cartoon form. The pink donut is a huge part of America’s longest running televisions show—the Simpsons. With nearly 30 years of broadcast and syndication, the Simpsons’ is a pop culture mainstay. The Simpsons have always made fun of the best and worst parts of American culture, including our love of donuts.


You might not be a huge Simpsons fan, but you probably know Homer loves pink donuts (from Lard Lad) and beer (from Duff Beer). It’s no wonder the pink donut is used to represent the show when its the subject of an art piece or collaboration. Check out these two pairs of custom sneakers by STVR for example.

(Source: @stvr.customs)

(Source: @stvr.customs)

Our sponsored artists Sekure D, who we did a feature on a few months back, put out his own Lard Lad-inspired custom sneakers.

(Source: @sekured)

ChadCantColor, another artist from the Angelus family, took the pink donut for a spin with his own Simpsons inspired custom sneakers a while back. He calls these the Homer J’s. If you’re a Simpsons fan, you get the reference.  

(Source: @chadcantcolor)

For the youngins, the pink donut might take on a different meaning. Los Angeles' own Odd Future took the world by storm because they were rapping about wildness kids got up to. Apparently, this included eaten donuts because their logo also uses the pink donut motif.


The OF pink donut pays homage to Randy’s Donuts of Inglewood, where Tyler and crew hung out before they made their way over to Fairfax. You can't go anywhere without seeing the OF logo on a pair of socks, a tie dye sweatshirt, or drawn on something. 


The pink donut—It’s obnoxious, it’s bright, and it represents all the fun parts of growing up in the U.S.A. What other country actively eats pink donuts for breakfast? 

Thought It Was A Drought April 26 2016

Long before viral marketing, a brand was only as good as their logo. A logo comes to represent everything the brand represents, and for legendary fashion houses like Gucci, this means luxury. So even if you’re not actively buying Gucci pieces, the famous Gucci colorway pays homage to the finer things in life.


The Italian fashion house has a long history that dates back to 1921. Founded by Guccio Gucci and his three sons Aldo, Vasco, and Rodolfo (who all have incredible names by the way), Gucci quickly became known for their fine leather goods. While early products included leather goods made by highly skilled craftsmen, the company soon featured the brown and tan interconnecting diamond pattern on luggage.

Fast forward to the 1960’s when the famous double G logo was featured on some of their first clothing items.


And while the “G” logo is without a doubt considered one of the most recognizable “classic” logos in the world, the iconic green and red bands have also become synonymous with the company. The signature green-red-green pattern can speak for the company even without the double G logo. When you see this colorway, you know it is there for one of the world’s most successful brands.


It’s no mystery that this color pattern is used often to pay respect to the Italian powerhouse. Sometimes this is intentional, sometimes not. Take for instance, these RESN x Nike SB Dunk High’s were made for Girl Skateboards manager Sam Smyth in 2009. 


Samples of the sneaker originally previewed in 2005. Even they had nothing to do with Gucci, they were immediately dubbed a "Gucci" Dunk due to the red and green colors.

Gucci itself is no stranger to footwear game, but they seemed to have taken the hint that their color pattern looks great on a pair of sneakers. The fashion house is going to releasing more colorways of their Ace sneaker complete with the signature stripes. 


While the simplicity of the Gucci Ace is probably the whole point, the iconic colorway looks better on everyone’s favorite canvas of the moment—the Nike Huarache. These four pairs by some talented customizers out in the #angelusdirect community kill it. 

(Source: @db3src)

(Source: @985.kicks)

(Source: @stvr.customs)

(Source: @klcustoms)

Gucci doesn’t stop with sneakers though. They even have their own version of slides, or as Future calls them on his DS2 tape, ‘flip flops.’


Of course, if you’re not going out of your way to find a pair of Italian leather slides, you can make a pair of your own.

(Source: @dredaytwo3)

From sneakers to clothes to slides, the green-red-green pattern will always be a nod to luxury. So if you want to put your own spin on the classic color way, grab some of Angelus Direct's Midnight Green and Chili Red acrylic leather paint. But if you should probably watch out for the dudes in Gucci slides, custom or not, because they might have an eye on your girl. Except for this guy.


"Camo Down To My Boxers" April 16 2016

With over 20 years under its belt, Japanese streetwear legends A Bathing Ape have put their mark on two vintage icons: camouflage and the tigermouth (which we covered a few weeks back). BAPE’s spin on this classic pattern has solidified its place as a staple in streetwear, and as a go-to lyric for your favorite rappers.


(Source: @_theheyyman_)

But long before BAPE’s take on it, camouflage has been in a staple in many closets because of its bold and utilitarian design. Throwing a layer of camo into the fit isn’t a new thing. Since the late 1960’s, camouflage has been more or less on trend with civilians and non-hunters. Much of the crazy started after the Vietnam War, when the now coveted Tigerstripe camouflage pattern was designed for close-range utilization in the dense jungles in the Republic of Vietnam. This style was take on an even older pattern, the French tenue de leópard which was created in the 1950’s.


After the war, surplus tigerstripe jackets and boonie hats found their way out into the world on the backs of hippies, bikers, Vets, and for whatever reason, into the Japanese markets. As Americana and heritage style became a standard in Japanese streetwear, many Japanese brands put their spin on the classic tigerstripe pattern. Back in the pre-Internet days, (the 1990’s) designer Tetsu Nishiyama, aka TET started the brand WTAPS, which had a heavy Vietnam-era aesthetic to it. 


Neighborhood, another legendary Japanese company, was started in 1994 by Shinsuke Takizawa. Among Takizawa’s influences was US counterculture and biker culture, which leaned heavily on the surplus Vietnam-era tigerstripe pieces.


During this same era, Nigo started A Bathing Ape in 1993. Part of their early offerings included the now infamous BAPE Camo design which features the Ape Head logo dotted throughout a brighter came pattern. While the BAPE design is indeed feature a military green, the origins are less Vietnam-inspired and more modified duck hunt camouflage. 

(Source: @jwdanklefs)

Nigo’s pieces made their way overseas to end up on America’s OG streetwear heads—rappers. Believe it or not, Pharrell wasn’t the first to be caught out in an Ape Head camo design. While Pharrell has long been associated with BAPE, early coverage of the pattern was seen on Bedford-Stuyverson’s finest MC, and that is of course the Notorious B.I.G.


Back in 1997, Biggie was wearing Nigo’s brand a mere four years after he launched it, which shows both Nigo and Biggie were ahead of their time.

Now, the Ape Head pattern is synonymous with BAPE x [insert brand here]. A brand has definitely made it to the top when the pattern is put on their product, with sneakers being one of the biggest aspects. The first was the OG Bapesta:


More recent collaborators include Puma and Reebok.



Of course, you don’t have to wait around for the next BAPE x whoever drop. Like minded individualizes in the custom sneaker game have been putting out their own Ape Head x Angelus Direct paint collabs for a long time now. 

(Source: @basscustoms)

(Source: @ianpaintedit)

(Source: @illicustoms)

What's That Splatter, Margiela? April 08 2016

The casual rap fan in 2016 has probably heard of famed Belgian designer Martin Margiela and his fashion house Maison Margiela. Maybe it was the line “What’s that jacket, Margiela?” by way of the Kanye West and Jay Z single “Ni***s in Paris,” from 2011’s Watch the Throne. Or, maybe you remember, “My Martin was a Maison, rocked Margielas with no laces,” from A$AP Rocky’s “Goldie.” Atlanta trapper Future literally had a song called “Maison Margiela.” Regardless of who rapped about it, the designer is often be associated with Kanye West’s Yeezus tour, which he designed the wardrobe and mask for.

In the 1980’s, Maison Margiela was at the forefront of innovative fashion trends. Before Margiela become a who’s-who rap bullet point on, he was putting out highly sought after ready-to-wear pieces under the Maison Margiela fashion house, which he sold in 2002. His pieces range from minimal and deconstructed to maximal and avant-garde, but made from the most luxurious materials. Basically, a perfect fit for Yeezus.


While Margiela has been in the mainstream (i.e., tumblr) these recent years because of rap music’s love, his work had been a talking point long before. Some of the fashion house's more imfamous pieces include one iteratia of the much discussed pair of Replica low top sneakers, covered in paint. The controversy behind the Replica Paint Splatter model is virtually the same shoe as the Replica, but with a splash of color on the front.


These were essentially the same shoe, plus a paint drip. The irony here is that these shoes are sold at higher end brick-and-mortar establishments with a $500 price tag. Of course, the cost-minded sneakerhead could have made these themselves. What’s funny is that this style is not new or groundbreaking, think back to OG graffiti artists and the master painters. Paint on your sneakers was a sign your were putting in work.


For example, this is legendary painter Jackson Pollock doing his thing. You might assume the paint on Pollock's shoes wasn’t done there style points, but this was probably an inspiration behind Margiela’s Replica Paint Splatters

As it turns out, the paint splatter has been on the rise this Spring. From the classic Shell toe Campus to Timbos to the Jordan 1, sneaker customizers have been lacing out their kicks with a touch of color.

(Source: @shelove.bmo)

(Source: @tarjetaszulydiaz)

(Source: @soleistickustomz)

(Source: @blackbeard_kustoms)

We’re not sure what type of paint Maison Margiela uses for the paint drips, but it probably doesn’t pop as well as a little splash of Angelus Direct acrylic leather paint does. More recently, Margiela collaborated with Converse on their iconic Chuck Taylor sneaker.


For this, Margiela literally dipped the whole shoe in white paint. If any customizers out there wants to make their own version of this with our paint, hit it with the #angelusdirect tag. We’d love to see your take on that.

Huaraches for Spring March 28 2016

As expected, we’ve been seeing a lot of custom sneakers in Spring colorways making their way out into the #angelusdirect world these recent weeks. This is a given as the gray skies are clearing up and the snow is melting. One thing that’s been a trend is the use of the classic Nike Huarache.

(Source: @_hpcustoms)

We saw these pastel Huaraches done by @jmln.cstms on the thread, just in time for Easter.

(Source: @jmln.cstms)

While never the gold medal of any Nike drop, the Huarache will always be a solid choice of shoe. With a 25 year history as an actual running shoe and now a staple for your daily wardrobe, the Huarache has no signs of slowing down this Spring or seasons to come.

(Source: @englishcustoms)

Our very own Angelus Direct sponsored artist @sneakerkraft tapped into the era with these customs.

(Source: @sneakerkraft)

The approach to a running shoe was inspired by a Mexican sandal called the huarache. The minimal, form fitting design was reminiscent of a pair of these woven leather sandals. For spring, these sneakers make sense. At the time, this silhouette was made in response to the clunky high tops that dominated sportswear at the time. On the contrary, the Huarache was a running shoe that you could wear without a sock, like it’s sandal inspiration. 

(Source: @deadstock_23)

The Huarache’s were first developed in 1991 by legendary Nike designer Tinker Hatfield. With multiple heavy hitting sneaker designs, such as the Air Max, the Air Jordan III’s and more under his belt, it was clear that Tinker’s runner-centric Huarache would be no different.


In 1991, there was another Michael J. with a Nike contract that was dominating his sport. This Michael had a last name of Johnson and was crushing it on the track. As a world class sprinter, Johnson was a prime endorsement for the new technology that came with the Huarache. There was no heel cap, a first for a Nike running shoe, just a neoprene strap.


Nevertheless, the Huarache become a huge hit both on the track and off in the 1990’s. Everyone from the other, more famous Michael J. to the television’s sitcom god Jerry Seinfeld were spotted in them. 



25 years later, this classic sneaker still holds up. So for all the sneaker customizers out there gearing up for spring, get your acrylic leather paint ready, Huaraches are where it’s at. 

(Source: @tdcustoms)

While Johnson didn’t win gold individually at the ‘92 Tokyo Olympics where the Huaraches debuted, these gold customs made with Angelus Direct acrylic leather paint would have been the next best thing.

(Soruce: @maccdenim)

Off the Wall for 50 Years March 19 2016

Long before a kid name Daniel was making viral waves for his all-whites, before Lil B was rapping that they looked “like sneakers,” before people where snapping Kanye in them, Vans shoes were synonymous with "cool." Most people know Vans Shoes as a reputable player in the global economy, seen everywhere from high-end boutiques to skateshops to their own storefronts. Since its inception in 1966, Vans Shoes has had a long and colorful 50 year history, becoming the powerhouse in the sneaker and apparel game it is today.


The Vans story goes to back to March 16, 1966 when Gordon Lee, Serge D'Elia, Paul Van Doren and James Van Doren opened a store in sunny Anaheim, California aptly named The Van Doren Rubber Company after brothers Paul and James. The shoe that launched with the newly formed company was a canvas low top that featured the iconic "rubberized waffle sole." Nowadays, we call this sneaker the Authentic, a timeless low top sneaker that has gone through many iterations. 


Since its inception, Vans have been associated with Southern California. If you’ve never been to Anaheim, it’s located in the heart of the Southern California’s Orange County, close enough to the beach to balance surf and skate culture. As the Van Doren shoe’s popularity spread, it made its way up the freeway to Los Angeles’s Venice Beach and Santa Monica. In the early 1970’s, a group of Venice Beach skaterats that were sponsored by Zephyr skate shop, better known as the Z-Boys were enthusiasts of the Van Doren. 


The Z-Boys revolutionized the way people looked at skateboarding with their aggressive “Dogtown” aesthetic. As they entertained the mainstream eye, Vans went with them. The classic Dogtown look was a pair of Levis, a Zephyr skateshop tee, and a pair of navy blue Van Dorens. From there, Vans shoes became synonymous with skateboarding, surf, and counter culture in the 1970s and 80s.


At some point in their history, Vans no longer solely associated with action sports, but also with designers and cultural influencers. In 2003, Vans Vault was conceived to expand the once quintessentially Southern Californian sneaker into the more forward, high end marketplaces in Tokyo, London, Paris and other metropolitan cities.


Even music’s loud voice dropped an homage to the 66 brand in his song “No More Parties in LA.” Yeezy raps, “some days I'm in my Yeezys, some days I'm in my Vans.” While this might sound like a throwaway line, it shows how ubiquitous the Southern California brand has become with mainstream pop culture. The man who designed the hottest sneaker out right now will still throw on those same blue Authentic's that the Z-Boys were rocking back at skate competitions in the 70s.


Luckily, the canvas silhouette of the Authentic has become a mainstay for sneaker customization. The canvas construction has always allowed for personal imprint, whether it was a sharpie or a full blown piece like our very own ChadCantColor out in on these Vans.

(Source: @chadcantcolor)

The Authentic and their predecessor, "the Era" aren’t the only Vans that find themselves on the end of a customization. Check out these Sk8-Hi’s that sneaker artist and customizer Johnny Bágö aka BagoCustoms did just in time for Spring.

(Source: @bagocustoms)

So many thanks to Vans for putting out sneakers for a solid 50 years. Here’s to another 50 more! Check out this retrospective on the infamous waffle soles below.

Quick History of the Shark Mouth March 06 2016

The ‘Shark Mouth’ design has been finding its way onto custom sneakers lately. The distinct red mouth and white teeth has a very military feel to it, so when its painting onto a pair of sneakers, you notice them. While this design was originally seen on fighter planes during World War 2, the shark mouth insignia has been a well known motif used in streetwear because of its clean design aesthetic.


Recently, we saw these Jordan 10 X BAPE were made Chris Lowe, referencing the BAPE ‘Shark’ hoodie that first dropped back in 2004. The BAPE hoodie really brought this design into the mainstream. 

(Source: @chrislowe_93)

These Nike Huarache Utility Customs aptly named the "Shark Attack” that customizer Concept Sneakers made.

(Source: @concept_sneakers)

Not too mention these Timbs done by k2Soles. The shark mouth really pops on this dye job.

(Source: @k2soles)

But the shark mouth doesn't just end up on sneakers and hoodies. This is insane LV bag was serviced by customizer Eric Ramirez.

(Source: @ericram)

The famous ‘shark mouth’ insignia goes back to the 1940s during World War 2. 1st American Volunteer Group, also known as the Flying Tigers, painted the now iconic shark mouth on the noses of their Curtiss P-40 Warhawks. There had been German and British planes that used  a similar nose painting, but the Flying Tigers made the design famous.


Seeing a squadron of these pissed off fighter planes flying at you played into the psychological warfare of combat. What’s worse than a heavily armed, easy to maneuver fighter plane shooting at you thousands of feet off the ground? One that looks like a grinning shark.


But the shark mouth wasn’t the only paintings found on the nose of fighter planes, but it was the calling card for the Flying Tigers. Other squadrons had their own unique nose art to separate themselves. Some would have a painting of a pin up model in various degrees of undress. At the time, this was very NSFW; but with a job like air combat, why not? 


If not a babe on the side of their planes, they might have their favorite cartoon character stomping riding a bomb. Those who really liked to stunt would have the number of enemy planes that they shot down represented. 



It’s funny to see how naturally customizing comes to people from one generation to the next. The pilots were given a blank slate, and naturally they put their own spin on it. So when you’re painting a shark nose on your sneakers, your tapping into a long history of customizing. You can thank these guys for making the shark nose iconic.


ChadCantColor... is Sponsored by Angelus Direct February 20 2016

This week we added a few new additions to our Angelus Direct Sponsored Artists page. If you happened to stop by our booth at the recent Agenda in Long Beach, you might have seen a guy painting some incredibly detailed designs. That was Chad Carothers, aka ChadCantColor, a talented multi-medium artist, who also happens to be the newest addition to the Angelus-sponsored family.

Chad has been creating work for the action industry world for many years now, so there’s a chance that someone, somewhere is surfing/skating a board with one of his designs at any given moment. In recent years the list of places where his work can be found has grown, so you might catch his work on a pair of sneakers, or on a car, or on a t-shirt.

(Source: @chadcantcolor)

Some artists might be inspired by the canvas or the medium, while others are inspired by their own artistic vision. Many customizers work is focused on the sneaker, or take influences from latest trends in contemporary menswear and streetwear, but Chad’s work uses the sneaker as a type of canvas. So instead of creating customs to look like the new Yeezy Boosts, which is totally rad too, Chad is drawing from his different influences for a totally unique design. He takes this same approach to painting a mural or putting a design on the hood of a car.

(Source: @chadcantcolor)

The cool thing about Chad’s approach to sneaker customs is his diverse artistic influences. From a glance, his work might remind you of tattoo flash art, particularly ‘New School’ style. Unlike traditional tattoos, think sailors and anchors and girls in hula skirts, New School tattooing incorporates graffiti, cartoon lettering, heavy outlines and bright coloring.


(Source: @chadcantcolor)


While New School is said to have started in California, there is something familiar about this style for Southern California locals. You’ll probably see New School tattoo’s on someone's arms, or thrown up on the wall of a building, or as Chad has been putting it, on a pair of Jordans.

(Source: @chadcantcolor)

There is also an element of ‘kustom kulture’ in Chad’s work. For those unfamiliar, the kustom world is centered around old school, heavily modified hotrods. The design element to it also takes that old school, 1950’s style and flips it into something new. 

(Source: @chadcantcolor)

Image the painstaking design put into pinstriping the hood of a Cadillac, that’s where Chad is coming from when he puts a design on a sneaker. But circling back, the time it would take to throw up an intricate graffiti piece.



Chad’s artistic background is as colorful as his custom sneaker designs. While his work might be seen on a surfboard, it might be seen in a gallery, or an museum. Or while he's knocking out a pair of custom of sneakers, he could also be creating a licensed design for New Balance (true story). OR he might be doing a commissioned mural or painting for a trade show. Basically, Chad is a busy dude and his work ends up in a bunch of different places! So if you want another perspective on custom sneakers, be sure to check out his page to see more gems like these...

(Source: @chadcantcolor)

Valentine's Day with Angelus Direct February 14 2016

Holiday’s get a lot of hate these days. From that one salty, always single dude in your group to the far corners of the Internet, people LOVE to hate on Valentine’s Day. From a single person’s point of view, we get it—everyone around you is obnoxiously in love on Valentine’s Day, especially those couples you know actually hate each other...


For those of you celebrating it with your significant other, there’s the fear that you’re just not going to get the right present. Well here’s a suggestion from the people at Angelus: get her/him a pair of dope sneakers. Sure, you could always buy one of those Valentine’s Day releases. Those are cool sometimes, but they either drop before or after the actual day. Take these special V Day-themed Air Jordan 12’s for example; they're out in March. MARCH!


If you tried to hit bae with an "I.O.U. some Jordans in March," you better believe you’re spending the night on the couch. Plus, that’s a lot of pink. You better hope they love pink that much. If you're not trying to wait until March for Valentine's Jordans and bae loves bright pink, grab a bottle of our Tahitian Pink and get to work.

For the more adventurous gift-givers out there, think about making a custom sneaker. Even if it's too late this year, there’s always next time right? Or even tomorrow in case you really dropped the ball with some sad roses and a half eaten box of chocolates. Nothing says love like a fully customized, hand painted, well-thought out, one-of-one sneaker for your significant other. You could buy them sneakers, or you could use Angelus Direct paint to make your own. Which one of those options says "love" just a little bit more? Probably the customized one.

Luckily, people are always doing great stuff with our products, holiday or not, so there's plenty of inspiration out there. Take for example these custom Ultra Boosts that our friend Tragik1993 dropped today.

(Source: @tragik1993)

This is Valentine’s Day fire right here. Pablo (West) himself couldn’t have given Kim a cleaner pair of Adidas today. As always, another Angelus sponsored customizer is killing the game.

Next up, we found these customs out on the #angelusdirect thread, just in time for Valentine’s Day. Germany-based sneaker and apparel customizers Born Originals put a Comme Des Garcons spin on a pair of classic AF1’s.

(Source: @bornoriginals)

The well known CDG heart is typically found on Converse, but with Born’s application of our paint, it looks perfect on this pair of Nike’s.

And finally, we came across some more Valentine’s Day creativity from another up-and-comer out there in the #angelusdirect community. These Jordan 4’s aptly titled “4 the LOVE” were done by customizer KidKustoms.

(Source: @kidkustoms)

The classic red and white color scheme on these 4’s make them the perfect gift. Better than roses in my opinion, and they’ll definitely last longer than two days. Great job KidKustoms, keep up the work!

So whether you’re flying solo this Valentine’s Day, or you’re faithfully committed to bae, Angelus Direct wants to spread the holiday love. For the rest of the day, we’re giving 15% off your entire order with this code.

Pick up some of our world famous acrylic leather paint and get a head start on next year’s present, make up for some weak flowers you picked up the grocery store, or just go that extra mile for him/her. And if not, if you’re that single person today, don’t be bitter, buy yourself some supplies and make yourself some anti-Valentine’s Day sneakers. Whatever you do, feel the love from Angelus Direct!