Custom sneakers are a massive part of sneaker culture in the United States with a huge demand for unique designed variations of popular sneakers.
Up until two years ago, the custom sneakers scene did not exist in Croatia, but two friends from Zagreb decided to change that.
“I started the brand Shoe Cleanique with my best friend Ivo Glavaš about 2 years ago. We are both sneakerheads and were always on the lookout for new sneakers that unfortunately were not available on the Croatian market. In the beginning, we started to work on our sneakers, painting them in colorways that we always wanted, but we were never able to purchase them,” Mak Gojnić starts explaining to us.
Along with custom shoes, Mak and Ivo also do sneaker restorations and cleaning from their store in the centre of Zagreb on Mesnicka ulica 1.
“Our work wasn’t the best in the early stages, but we kept on improving and we received some shoes from our friends and acquaintances and from there everything turned into a small business. We’ve always wanted to provide the opportunity for each customer to create his own custom sneaker and people loved the idea,” says Mak.
Inside the Shoe Cleanique store customers can check out a pretty neat sneaker collection of sneakers, which are mostly Air Jordan shoes.
A custom design takes about 2 weeks to finish depending on its complexity, whilst cleaning takes around 2-3 days and a restore is around 5 days.
“Currently, we’re really busy. We get a lot of requests for custom sneakers these days because people are seeing them as a nice and unique gift for various opportunities like birthdays, wedding gifts, etc,” Mak adds.
Custom sneakers have been very popular in the US for over a decade but are still something new in Croatia. Mak says that clients are mainly younger people in the 16-30 age bracket, but that they also get requests from older generations too.
“Our customs start from 400 kuna and it depends on the complexity of the design that we’re painting. Cleaning is from 150 to 250 kuna depending on the condition and materials of the sneaker. Restorations are from 250 to 350 kuna.”
One which caught our eye were the Dražen Petrović custom sneakers.
“One day we received a request to make Dražen Petrović custom sneakers, and after we’ve published it on our Instagram, our DM got bombarded with similar requests. Dražen Petrović is one of the best and most known Croatian athletes and it’s been an honor to paint his silhouette on a sneaker. We’ve made a couple of different designs and every time we post one of them, we get a dozen requests,” Mak says.
Mak says that the best part about this job is that there are no “popular” customs.
“Each client has his own idea of each design so there are no exactly same designs. I can say that each custom is a 1/1,” he concludes.