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Mache Custom Kicks

Dress Code: Mache's Sneaker Designs Create Limitless Abilities For Aspiring Designers

From LeBron James to Jay-Z, meet the industry's favorite sneaker designer. 

‘Dress Code’ is VIBE’s fashion and style series, where were we test drive rising brands from an everyday life point of view.

Mache Says

Founder: Dan “Mache” Gamache

Happy Customers: Jay-Z, LeBron James, Steph Curry, Sam Saunders, Desus & Mero, Nipsey Hussle, Gucci Mane, Ronda Rousey, Yo Gotti, Marshawn Lynch, Young Thug

On Mache’s Humble Beginnings and First Design:

We’ve got our hoods in Poughkeepsie, New York. It's funny because my wife is from Norwalk and she was like, 'Well, I've been to where you are and it's country.' and I'm like, 'Well no, you have to drive through the country to get there.’ I didn’t live in the country. You go 10 minutes this way, you're in a cow-house, 10 this way you're in the projects so you have to pick your poison.

My first design was six shades of purple Air Max 90s, it was during the Dipset wave so it had the big bird gang design on the back. They were terrible in hindsight because there's no was no YouTube on how to do this, you had to learn through trial and error.

On The Design Process:

I'm fun art guy, I'm really big on realism but I feel like, with the times, people are taking to the DIY-looking customs. I go back to people like Virgil Abloh because he has such a big impact on sneaker culture. I think it's cool just to draw on your shoes. It inspires people who aren't creative or artistic to be able to do this, so it works for me.

I'm really jaded since I'm an old guy and I'm seeing all these kids have all these resources that I didn't, so they have a head start. There wasn't even a MySpace when I started. I see these kids and think, "They have the tools, they have the smartphones. I had a Nokia. (Laughs)

With the Samsung 10+, I’m able to showcase my designs without using 15 different apps to edit my photos. They have the "live focus" feature so you just have to slide to it and it’s there. I’ve been playing with it all day. It’s just the ease of it. You’re also able to post the photos right after and obviously, it’s not anything crazy but they just make it easy for the consumer and creatives.

Like everybody else, I'm working and I always have my phone in front of me. It's safe to say I have anxiety if I don't have it near me. A lot of times when I’m designing shoes for events, I’m using my phone to showcase the image I’m designing on the shoe so the Galaxy S10+ helps with that. I was just using it for [VIBE’s 1996 Death Row Records cover], design at SXSW. I was using my phone to create them and those shoes went to Suge’s son which is pretty cool.

Their Uniqueness In The Marketplace:

I always equate tattoos to what I do. People ask how long things take or how much things cost. I'm like, "If you want a back piece, you're gonna wait for a long time and you're going to pay a lot." If you want the Sistine Chapel on a pair of shoes, you're gonna pay a lot and you're going to wait.

I didn’t anticipate any of this. I used to play baseball so when I got the injury, I just knew I would go to designing. I lucked out on and that's how I look at it. When I was a kid, I thought I would play sports; I drew Garfield and stuff as a kid.

You hear that term "starving artist," that's what I was for the first 10 years. My wife now would pay my rent or if I didn’t make rent, I moved back in with my mom. It was that kind of thing; eating off the dollar menu, you had to do what you had to do. My wife was really big on getting me to where I was going. She was like, "You shouldn't be here, you should be doing more than this." She saw the potential. So behind every successful man is a very strong woman, that is true.

How The Designer Wears His Shoes:

It varies honestly. I'm the type of guy who doesn't tie his shoes, so I'm more of a Miles Morales type of guy than anything, even at 40. It also depends on the shoe. For Air Maxes, I normally tie them up but I wear everything and anything I like. Whether it's Puma, whether it's Adidas, I don't care. No one has me to a contract so I'm going to wear whatever I want. (Laughs)

Favorite Item In The Vault:

It's more of an emotional attachment, but my favorite is the Air Jordan 5 Retro Black/Metallic Silver. When I was a kid, I lived in a trailer park so I didn't have a lot of money. At the time, they were just Jordans, not the “Jordan 4 or 5s.” I'd shovel driveways, mow lawns do all that stuff and got my first pair of Jordans. I was wearing Voit sneakers or Payless sneakers, no shade to them at all but I wanted to be cool. (Laughs) I'd be wearing the husky section Sears clothing but I had some nice sneakers on. That’s where my appreciation for footwear came in and the work ethic of it all. The 5s will always mean something to me. I even got them tattooed on me.

VIBE Says:

Desire Thompson, News Editor

There’s something special about having a custom design on your shoes. It presents your personality in a very unique way so it’s refreshing that Mache can help bring a vision or a design to life. It’s also reminiscent of the days of graffiti on the subway or spray-painted images of on your clothes. I remember being 15 and my best friend would design our names on our Timbs. We thought we were so cool, so this definitely reminds me of those days.

Christine Imarenezor, Executive Editor

To own a pair of cool kicks will never die, I'm convinced. Owning at least one pair of customized sneakers is practically a hypebeast necessity. Nothing beats having a one of a kind design on your feet, especially when you can walk around proudly, knowing no one can find another like your kicks. It's crazy how Mache has religiously designed each and every shoe by hand. Just watching him happily do so takes me back to my own colored pencil-whipping, acrylic paint-dipping art class days of the past. What's even more inspiring is Mache's ability to genuinely pursue what he loves while contributing to the fashion world at large. Pretty dope. Now, let me go jam to Nelly's "Air Force Ones."

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