Dan Gamache, better known as “Mache” in the sneaker community, rose to the top as the number one custom sneaker designer in the game. Mache has been doing custom kicks as far back as 2004, starting with a “Dipset” purple custom he created in his basement. Fast forward to 2016, and he has managed to be a forerunner in this career for over six years.
VIBE was on scene for an interview with Mache at the Brisk “Sneak-in Sneak-out” rooftop party in New York City, where he debuted his custom Air Jordan 4, inspired by Brisk’s pineapple-passion fruit iced tea flavor.
VIBE: Growing up how’d you get into sneakers?
Mache: I wasn’t broke but I wasn’t rich either. Kids wearing the Nike’s and Jordan’s that was kind of like the cool thing. My mom wasn’t spending no $100 on a pair of shoes. I was always someone who mowed the lawns, shoveled the driveways. I got my first pair of Jordan’s, Jordan 5’s they’re tatted on me. That was my appreciation for it. I’ve been into it since that, it’s the first thing I earned. For the art part of it, my grandma was an art teacher, art was always instilled in me. If I wasn’t playing sports, I was in the back drawing sneakers or portraits out of Sports Illustrated.
What’s your favorite sneaker and custom you’ve done?
Black and silver Jordan 5’s, they came out this past weekend and Jordan’s got my pair on the way, I’m happy. Favorite custom, it’s tough. The pineapple passionfruit’s cool, it’s a really organic design. Sneakerheads can obviously resonate with the silhouette. People that are into the art part can see the influence from the bottle and label, its got a little graffiti or someone that just likes pineapples, so it kind of touches a point for everybody without being corny because something like this could easily go corny.
Hardest and easiest sneaker to customize?
Jordan 1’s are easiest, flat panels. The hardest ones it really depends. The newer ones you treat like a painted car, because you can make a museum piece with any shoe but you want people to have wearable art. As long as you appreciate and know that it’s art on a shoe and you wear it that way, you’re cool.
Has a company ever stolen a design from you?
I wouldn’t say its stolen, but brands are very influenced by what’s around them. Even a company like Brisk sees this is cool, so why not hop on and see how we could help each other out.
Kanye 808’s AF1 Custom:
One of my favorites, just in term of the artwork, the suit material. That was actually a collaboration with one of my boys, Emmanuel Labor out in Seattle, he was a cut and sew guy before it was cool to do the python on the shoes and stuff. It was dope to actually get them to him.
LeBron Ironman 10’s:
That’s the one everyone seems to remember. Gave them to him at All-Star weekend in 2013, flew down to Houston. It was cool, he was ready for it, it was a pain to get them through TSA more than anything else. So, I shipped the box out separately, and brought the shoes in my carry-on. Got them to him before the game. It was cool because he got to wear them in warmups during the NBA Finals against the Spurs. I got a picture of that, so it was definitely a cool “my mom was proud” moment.
How did you start working with WWE Superstars such as Shane McMahon, Nikki Bella, and Sasha Banks?
I was talking with my guy Josh from Dime Magazine during the NBA Finals and there was a WWE Pay-Per-View on, He’s like I should link you up with my boy from WWE. So I had the idea I wanted to do Nikki Bella’s shoes since she wears them in the ring, and it’s a cool excuse to meet Nikki Bella. So, he pitched the idea to her and she was all about it. They filmed an episode of Total Divas in my studio, it was really cool. Then the organic machine starts, Sasha Banks follows me and it’s just talking. Then it goes back into the networking and relationships. SummerSlam coming up, we got something coming, stay tuned.
Do you like where the sneaker game is at right now?
I think it’s cool because it’s not just Nike anymore. I’m someone who rocks every brand. I’m a fan of all kinds of brands. If something works and I like it, cool. I don’t care. It kind of goes back into the customizing game, you get these new customizers coming out and they push me to be better. These other brands are forcing the big boys to up their games. It’s great.
I saw something about making furniture on your web site.
Customizing just isn’t about the shoes. We’re looking for other ways to personalize and give self expression to the customers. What else can we do? Doing the stackable boxes almost like Lego’s is really cool. You see these people showing off their sneaker rooms. It’s another cool way to do it. I’ll paint it like how the actual shoe looks. It’s a cool personal touch.
There’s a lot of things. I’m blessed. When the phones not ringing that’s when we got a problem. When a door closes another one opens. Luckily the door stays open. Just be a man of your word, doing what you’re doing. Don’t drink the Brisk too much.
Check out the video recapping the Brisk event below.