Customisation has always been a central pillar of sneaker culture, with each and every person making small modifications to their sneakers be it subconsciously or a calculated decision. More recently we’ve witnessed sneaker customs become a true art form, with no better example of this than Lorenzo Federici’s beautifully dyed works. The young creative has found a foothold in the sneaker scene, captivating many with his high-quality dye jobs on our favorite silhouettes – we even saw DJ Clark Kent pick up a pair. We spoke to Lorenzo and asked a few questions covering his work, inspirations and what the future holds not only for him, but sneaker customs as a whole.
Hey Lorenzo! No doubt people seeing this will recognise your work, but can you introduce yourself to our readers?
My name is Lorenzo Federici, I’m 22 from St Albans, a small city just north of London. First things first I am a sneakerhead, my passion for footwear has always been the driver of my vocation and what I end up doing day to day.
I am currently exploring colour design but not in the traditional sense. All of my work uses hand dyeing methods on ready-made pairs. When I worked in the footwear industry that was always the direction I wanted to take but there were barriers to entry, so I took matters into my own hands as a way of translating my ideas.
Your customs are of such high quality, often I think you give big brands a run for their money – how have you managed to get to this level? Do you consider yourself an “expert” or is there more to be mastered before then?
To keep it 100 my work looks high quality for two reasons. Firstly I only work on high quality pairs that I like and secondly because the method of dyeing the shoe (when done effectively) can leave the shoe looking factory and not like an obvious custom. This has always been a focus of mine as when people see these pairs I want them to be confused and bring back the OG sneakerhead flex of having a pair that people haven’t even seen.
I’ve been doing this practice for over a year now and I’m by no means an expert in customisation, but I learn with every mistake I make and luckily I’ve had the time to make a lot of those. I’m most confident in my ideas and knowledge of sneakers and being able to retranslate that on something new.
We often see customs hit with criticism or hate – not yours though. What do you think sets your art out from the crowds of customisers that are all competing for the level of recognition you’ve managed to attain?
I think it comes down to how I work. The concept and execution is my main focus above all things. I just want to create sick colourways on pairs I love. A lot of the time I will create a colourway on a pair that I won’t even be able to recreate if I tried, because my method can be so random and spontaneous. My inspiration often comes from OG pairs and colourways I’ve always loved, being a sneakerhead allows me to make these references and reimagine them in my own way.
Many “customisers” are opportunists and jump all sorts of trends to sell pairs which I understand but they’ll never be original, and this game is all about originality and execution.
Customising shoes can be a difficult job and it can be quite mentally draining. I don’t focus on selling hundreds of pairs in a month, I use all my energy to make one amazing creation. Once I’ve done that I try my best to let the images do it justice. My goal was always to show the industry what I’m capable of so one day I don’t have to use dye to create.
You’ve gone crazy on the classic Air Force 1, but my favorites from you have to be the CDG 95’s. What makes the perfect canvas for your artwork? If you could make your own shoe from the ground up, how would you go about making it dye (and custom as a whole) friendly?
I think I agree with you about the CDG 95s. That shoe is so perfect for my method of dyeing because of the multiple layers and different materials used on the shoe. The suede takes the dye in a soft tone whilst the foam takes it super saturated. Then the fact it’s a 95 and the gradient works perfectly with the flowing structure of the shoe, it’s just a match made in heaven. I wouldn’t say there is one perfect canvas for my work as I feel I can work on many different types of silhouettes and I like to push the limits on what I can work on. So I’d say the perfect canvas for me to work on is a pair that I really like and can connect with.
That being said I do have limitations to what shoes I can work on. For example I cant work with dark coloured shoes. Pairs with raw materials like the Stussy AF1 definitely take dye the best and make my process easier. For a shoe to be dye friendly it just needs the right mix of materials and has to be crafted to perfection, because once dyed often flaws that aren’t seen previously can stand out, like glue stains on the upper.
If someone wants work done by you, or wants to get a hold of some of your art – how would they go about doing so? Could you let us know what’s going on with NTWRK and SneakerCon?
I currently don’t take commissions but I will be dropping samples I create on my website in the near future. We just launched the Air Max 95 CDG * DUSK * on NTWRK for virtual SneakerCon, it was 15 pairs from US 5 to US 12 selling out very quickly. Expect a similar drop for the AF1 Stussy * DUSK * this month on my website.
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