If you’ve looked around or, like me, have dropped $200 on a pair of sneakers lately, there’s a good chance that you’ve noticed that athletic gear has evolved in the past decade or so, with big brands moving away from strictly sweat-wicking gear and working towards introducing styles that crossover into everyday culture.
One way of doing that is through customization, with Adidas fully jumping into the deep end on by entrusting a creative bro by the name of Marcus Rivero (@SolesBySir) to handle one of the swaggiest jobs on the planet—designing the cleats of the Miami Hurricanes football team for the team’s September 19 slate against the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Interviewing over 100 players from the Canes to get their personal preference on how they want their own shoes to look, Rivera has spent the past several months designing a once-in-a-lifetime shoe for each player donning The U on their helmet.
That means that, yeah, even the fifth-string running back will have his very own, unique cleat as he takes the field, just as any of the starters will.
For us dudes who have ever dreamt about having our own kicks like Derrick Rose, John Wall, Jimmy Graham or DeMarco Murray, this is the first time in history where it’s being done for a single contest, putting Adidas, Rivero and Hurricanes players in the spotlight for something that could change the customized shoe game forever.
I sat down with Marcus Rivero to talk The U project, his favorite athlete to work with and how he went from a normal Canes alum and diehard football fan to the one who’s all over the feet of his favorite team.
BB: Where do you even get the creative ideas for the shoes?
MR: It’s hard because, when you have someone come to you to customize anything, it’s because they don’t want anyone else to have the same thing. So, at the beginning, it was very easy, since I didn’t have a lot of guys.
The more I’ve been doing this, though, the more I’ve found myself looking at things I never did before. I’ll walk down the street and look at graffiti on the walls, see some sort of mural, a city landmark, even just colors, man. Sometimes I just think, I like the way it works.
So, to be honest, it’s kind of just everywhere.
BB: Do the guys give you ideas on what they want?
MR: You know, some do, which makes things easier for me.
I have conversations with all my guys, and, in that conversation, I’m able to draw an idea in my head with what they sort of want. I’ll tell them to go through my Instagram a lot of times to see if there are any designs I’ve already done that they like. Based off of what they tell me they like, I try to incorporate that into something for them.
BB: How did Adidas find you to bring you onto this massive project?
MR: (laughs) Yeah, coming up with 105 designs that look similar, but are actually different, is one of the toughest things I’ve ever done.
Adidas actually tracked me down on Twitter.
There was another brand who mailed me a letter that, basically, told me to stop doing customs, so I thought that it was all over.
Adidas then sent me the tweet of my life to do this project. No matter what happens down the road in customs, I’ll always have one brand that I’ll be able to work with in Adidas that will let me do projects like this.
The fact that I went to the U, graduated from the U and have always been a diehard Miami fan, this means the world to me, man.
BB: Any nerves about the September 19th game against Nebraska, when the shoes will be unveiled by the Canes?
MR: Oh, man, going to this game is going to mean so much to me. When I go in there, 99 percent of the people won’t know the hell I am. But when I leave that game that day, I have a big feeling that a lot of people are going to know me, or my brand or my work, and nothing is going to make me happier than being able to associate all three of those things with my school.
BB: Has it hit you yet with just how awesome this is, dude? I mean, an entire team with custom cleats, that’s insane.
MR: I don’t know how I’m going to really feel on September 19th at kickoff, but I do know that, with all the difficulties I’ve been through, this has been a long time coming.
Now that I’m almost done with all these shoes, I have a lot more time to actually think about the moment and, man, this is going to be huge. The fact that customs on a whole team, from the starters to the back-ups, big names to walk-ons, that they’re going to be wearing my work, and that it’s never been done before, it’s going to be incredible.
BB: For these Miami cleats, did you have free rein to do what you wanted, or did Adidas, Miami and the players give you guidelines?
MR: What I loved the most about this project is that Adidas let me to my own thing. They gave me a couple things to work with, like putting the players numbers on the shoes, but, really, they just told me to run.
They gave me a couple things to work with, like putting the players numbers on the shoes, but, really, they just told me to run.
What happened was, I got an assistant equipment guy from the U to help with this project from the inside. He was able to get me all the players’ information outside of just the numbers and their last names, which was really able to make these personal.
We were able to get things to make these shoes unique, giving the outside world stuff that they wouldn’t otherwise know about the players.
On the outside of the left shoe, you’re going to have the last name and the U symbol, and on the inside of that side, you’re going to have personal sayings from the players themselves. Whether it was a nickname, a special saying or something about their family, anything they wanted us to put there, we were able to get.
On the outside of the right shoe, there’s the player’s number and my logo, which I’m stoked about having on the shoe.
So, when the public sees these for the first time, they’ll get to understand a little bit more about the player, and why they wanted to play at the U.
BB: Are you ready for some rapid fire?
MR: (laughs) I’ll try to be! Shoot, I got you.
BB: Favorite athlete to work with?
MR: Wow! That’s tough. I want to say Nolan Carroll because he was my first guy, but the craziest to work with is DeSean Jackson. He has got so many different ideas and let’s me expand on my horizons.
BB: One athlete you hope to work with one day?
MR: Damn, man, that’s a great one. Hmm.. one athlete I hope to work with one day? You know, Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks quarterback).
BB: What does a pair of customs cost?
MR: Basically, anywhere between $500 and $1,000 is average, although I’ve had a lot more expensive ones than that.
BB: In the game between Miami and Nebraska on September 19th, who you got?
MR: (laughs) Oh, man, come on, you know I’ve got Miami. I’ve got the Canes by 10-plus points, and, if they happen to win, you know that I’ll just be braggin’ that it’s because of the shoes!
BB: Any chance we can cop a custom pair?
MR: I’ll tell you what, you send me down the pair of shoes you want me to customize for you, and, somehow, get Russell Wilson to contact me, both yours and his are free of charge. We got a deal?
BB: Sounds good to me.
MR: I’ll do a BroBible one just for you, dude.