4 Fun Ways to Personalize Your Boots

In a recent interview Virgil Abloh, the man who founded Off-White and the artistic director of Louis Vuitton, said “streetwear is dead.”

Now, what did he mean by this? Most people would agree that Virgil did not literally foresee the end to streetwear, but rather he realized that shopping habits will evolve as consumers realize they don’t need another graphic tee or another sneaker in a slightly different colorway.

He thinks people will look towards vintage pieces and taking old pieces and then making them their own.

As I dove deeper into his interview, I couldn’t help but think about the state of heritage workwear. Is heritage workwear suffering from the same ailment? In other words, will workwear as a fashion hobby die as well?

I can’t really answer that but in the event that it does, here are four methods on how you can stay ahead of the curve and truly make a boot yours today.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Ingo Keller (@schuhgott_custom_shoe_repair) on

1. Use a different type of sole.

A new sole is like a new soul.

Instead of the factory sole, give your boots something different. There are so many options out there nowadays that you’re cheating yourself if you do not explore the options available. From red crepe to camo cork, there is something for everyone.

If changing the outsole color is too extreme, then maybe consider changing the stitching color. Believe it or not, the color of the stitches can really personalize a shoe. Take Dr. Marten for example. Everyone associates the contrast yellow stitching with the brand. It’s time for everyone to associate your style with some mauve stitching!

Or take a look at this more subtle example below, spotted at Schuhgott Custom Shoe Repair in Germany. Someone decided to swap out the midsole with a New York flag:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Ingo Keller (@schuhgott_custom_shoe_repair) on

You know every rugged style guy has a moc toe with white (I mean beige…) crepe outsoles, but few can stay they have one with a blue midsole and red outsole.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Pisgah Range LTD (@pisgah_range_ltd) on

2. Change your laces

After a resole, or even before, consider swapping the boring brown/black laces for some playful ones. If your favorite color is blue, make your boot a statement piece by getting some blue laces!

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Greg Park (@hancore) on

3. Spice up the boots with a custom patina.

Another way to make an off the rack boot or an old boot yours is by applying a custom patina. With custom patina work, you can mask any knicks or scratches that you may have developed over the years. In addition, patina jobs can showcase your love for intricate colors and design.

Patinas generally occur on its own as you wear a boot over many months and years, however the looks of these natural patinas are often restricted by the leather type and color. (A good patina is often, but not always, the result of pricy leather that some folks can’t afford.)

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Greg Park (@hancore) on


By contrast, a painted patina ignores these restricting factors. If you would like your old tan boot to look more burgundy, then an artist can do that for you. They can apply a variation of paints to not only make the boot darker but also paint it so that the boot will have the appropriate color differences in the stress points.

You will need to find a patina artist for this type of work. Although it is not as common in the United States as it is in Europe, there are still many aspiring patina painters in America.

I have recently met an artist, Greg (@Hancore) while browsing Instagram and have even met up in person to talk about this art (bless the mighty internet!). He’s done patinas in boot boutiques and on his own but he is actually also willing to teach you how in several workshops that he will be hosting (you can find the details on his Instagram).

Fair warning though, patina jobs can get pricey. But hey, nobody said fashion was a cheap hobby.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Oliver Sweeney (@oliversweeney) on

4. Ink up your boots.

The last way to personalize your boots in the wake of workwear’s “death” is by giving your boots some tattoos.

I don’t know why this art is as popular as it should be. After all, people tattoo their skin, and leather is basically skin that has been tanned. Despite its unpopularity, this customization looks stunning and can potentially hold a lot of personal value. Tattooing your boots with a message or an icon that keeps your anchored to what is important to you sounds like a rad idea.

If you can get your hands on a tattoo gun I would say you can give it a shot, however as with any customizations, I would only trust the work of an expert.

Unfortunately, it is actually really hard to find an artist who will tattoo your boots. In most cases you would need to DM tattoo artists online to see if they can take the job on. The good news is, many artists actually practice on leather when they start out, so the material should not be too foreign.

If you’re lucky, you may actually find some guest artist tattooing at a boot boutique. I vaguely remember Allen Edmonds having such an event in NYC, plus Oliver Sweeney has periodically hosted tattoo artists at their shop in the past.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Oliver Sweeney (@oliversweeney) on

Despite its lack of popularity, this customization looks stunning and can potentially hold a lot of personal value. Tattooing your boots with a message or an icon that keeps your anchored to what is important to you sounds like a rad idea.

Wrapping Up

These are four methods that you can employ to survive the potential “death of workwear” as we know it. This list is meant for the casual style hobbyist and not for the hardcore worker who actually needs boots on a job site. If you need to wear boots for work, I do not advise getting the more artistic customizations as they will get destroyed faster than workwear will die.

Featured image via @oliversweeney on Instagram.

The following two tabs change content below.

Humphrey Tsui

Humphrey is a native Brooklynite who loves clothing! He is a teacher by day and a total shoe geek by night.Follow him on Instagram.

Leave a Comment