Exclusive chat with Dominic 'The Shoe Surgeon' Ciambrone
We cannot start this piece without a shameless plug: our custom collab with TSS, Air Jordan XI "Prototype", just dropped. And the only pair ever made is being raffled on our 'Gram — run now to take part in the giveaway and have the chance to win it.
The man behind our exclusive collab is not afraid of giving a new purpose to already game-changing sneakers. With a handful of fresh leathers he can find a new side of a design that marked generations.
Dominic Ciambrone THE SHOE SURGEON is the CEO and founder of the LA-based creative studio that pioneered what the handmade sneaker customizations business is today. Their drive is to push the boundaries of the sneaker industry to create a culture of their own. A culture that unites big brands & names with creatives that are not afraid to take what's already there and get it to the highest level.
His "surgeries" start with remarkable silhouettes & while he takes them apart & builds all back together he boosts the shoemaking craft in premium leather that plays with texture, durability, color & prints. Like the tie-dye on the METCHA x TSS Air Jordan XI "Prototype".
Head to our Q&A on his close connection with the nostalgia of the AJ XI & his material selection process by tapping play or continuing the read.
We heard you have a personal attachment to the Concords. What does this custom and its timelessness mean to you?
I remember the Jordan 11 being one of my favorite shoes in high school and there was just something about the Concords.
The Jordan 11 is one of my favorite shoes. I never owned a pair, I was a little hesitant to wear them. It was definitely one of the Jordans that pushed the envelope and being able to recreate it is dope. It's something that I've loved, messing with different silhouettes, and the opportunity to recreate this one with the leathers that we chose is exciting. I'm excited to see how they turn out.
Your creation process is worth celebrating as much as the final piece. When creating a design like this one, what are the main things you have to achieve during your process?
When I recreate any silhouette that's already out there, the goal is to maintain the integrity of the shoe and just enhance it by the materials that we use. I just like finding new leathers and then buying leathers that inspire me, that feel good. Whether it's because of the texture, the imperfections, the colors. I just like buying it and then collecting it and then creating it after the fact.
Now, let's talk about the materials and textures you use for each prototype: how does that selection have an impact on your process and the final piece?
Sometimes the design comes from knowing the materials we have. Sometimes we have to go find the materials specifically for the design. I like just creating organic and creating from what I have.
Your work gives a new life cycle for sneakers that already existed. What is the connection between limited pairs with such unique leathercraft and a no-waste way of thinking?
One of my mentors would always pray and create a ceremony before he cut into the leather or the material that he used. And I think there's something about how he thanked the animal for its life and for enabling what he was going to make. I believe that's similar to what we do here, it's how we give a second life or an alternative to a product that already exists. And why not just make it unique or specific to the client? Or to whomever wants something different.
"EVERYONE COULD JUST BUY SOMETHING OFF A SHELF, SO WHY NOT JUST CREATE SOMETHING UNIQUE? "
Keep an eye for more exclusive content of our collab coming soon 👁.
Don't miss your chance in our giveaway for the METCHA x TSS AJ XI pair — it goes 'til October 9th. All rookies allowed.