By now you’ve probably heard of the infamous gold cleats Marshawn Lynch was banned from wearing for the Super Bowl. Though Lynch’s uniform won’t be the same without the kicky cleats, the man behind the shoes is an NFL star in his own right.
From his South Florida home, Marcus Rivero (known by his Instagram moniker Soles by Sir) is the man making seriously cool, custom painted shoes for everyone from the NFL and MLB to NBA and NHL. He got his start when he painted sneakers for his girlfriend last Valentine’s Day, and one Instagram post later, he was open for business. And it didn’t take long for football to find him.
We talked to Rivero about his edgy designs.
How do you approach the design?
When I started I knew I wanted to have [each one] be an original. It’s why I do [each design] once. It’s interesting working with the players because sometimes I get total free reign, other times they know exactly what they want from colors to design and font, and other times we just toss ideas around.
Anything can inspire me. Actually one of my favorite designs came from a bee sting I got one day. Ryan Clark, from the Washington Redskins, and I had been chatting about doing something animal inspired and I thought why not go with the beehive? It was the Redskin yellow and sort of a honeycomb print.
Any clue on what we can see on game day?
It’s really funny because the closer you get to the playoffs the more creative and outside the box the guys and I will get. The ideas really get off the wall and we bounce ideas around to land on things. This year you could see shoes inspired by the Lombardi silver trophy, tie-dye or an animal print.
Cleats are so black and white. They’re really limited, even with all the sort of sneaker stuff going on. They’re not interesting. I’ve done at least 400-500 custom shoes in the past year. A pair can take anywhere from two to 10 hours to do.
What’s the best part of the job?
The whole process from start to finish, and meeting these athletes has really been incredible. You get such an idea from the media about who they are as people, but meeting them is really great. They’re such good people and I’ve built great friendships and relationships out of this. Guys drop their shoes off for me to paint and four hours later we’re ordering takeout. I love that part.
So you’re not star-struck?
I also think it’s funny because I myself could be a bit star struck, but to have them saying their huge fans of me, man, I just couldn’t have imagined that.