The experts that they turn to when Bieber fancies custom-made Cariumas, the "God's Plan" rapper wants to get first crack at an original pair of Blazers by Supreme, or Kelly Rowland needs her prized Nikes cleaned.
Once only known as gear for game day (and a fashion faux-pas off of the court) the sneaker is now the "It" accessory at big-ticket black-tie shindigs. Luxury brands such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga, and Fendi as well as others have joined the laced-up revolution featuring exclusive kicks often in limited release. Kanye West, creator of Yeezy, is expected to haul in $1.5 billion this year. Whether at a snazzy Hollywood awards show, on a press junket, or on a casual Friday at the office, sneakers are here to stay. So, who are the masterminds to help curve the ever-growing sneaker appetite? Here is a list of L.A.'s most wanted sneaker gurus to cater to every sneaker buff young and old.
Jason Markk offers a full menu of services, the most popular being “The Purp Special” ($42), which includes deep cleaning of the undersole, uppers and laces and odor freshening. Star clients include Drake, Kelly Rowland, Miguel and Skrillex. “Regular upkeep goes a long way as opposed to allowing dirt, dust and stains to build up over time, then attempting to clean. If it’s a leather sneaker, give them a clean at least once per month,” Markk says.
329 E. 2nd St., L.A.
“Taking things apart and building them back together” is how Dominic Ciambrone describes refurbishing sneakers by hand. With his “made-to-order, bespoke” business, the crown jewel is a Nike LeBron 15, designed with 24-karat gold and alligator, valued at $100,000, to fete LeBron James’ 30,000-point milestone.
“I like experimenting with new materials and colorways and pushing the boundaries to come up with new designs. It’s all about how it looks, how it feels, how it smells and soon how the experience can create a taste that reminds you of the product,” Ciambrone tells THR.
"Sneakers are becoming what cars were for our parents," he says. "they are now a staple fashion piece."
Ciambrone’s philosophy? “If you don’t wear them, they will fall apart faster.”
Contact: via Instagram @theshoesurgeon or firstname.lastname@example.org
Project Blitz (comprised of a team of eight) owner Andre Ljustina — or as he likes to call himself on Instagram, “Croatian Style” — finds coveted shoes from Air Jordans to Louis Vuitton for “all budgets, under $100 to $250,000,” he says. His ability to forecast popular releases ensures hot merch is well stocked before the rush. “It’s about forecasting and being the point guard, being Magic Johnson, being able to see up the court so you can slam dunk later,” he tells THR. Retired players Mark McGwire and Scottie Pippen, A.J. from the Backstreet Boys, 2 Chainz, Travis Scott and Drake (who calls his place “sacred”) are clients.
His favorite style is the Nike Dunk SB Low Paris, which originally debuted in the early 2000s for $150, but now he retails for $25,000 with fewer than eight in stock. He tells THR this shoe “changed the game, made me leave school, made me decide that this is my route. When they were released to the public in Paris I scrounge up about $30K, buying up every pair out there for $800-$900 each, which was unheard of at the time.”
He says he has a responsibility to tell the story of his transcendence in the industry to inspire the younger generation to look at the world of sneakers as a lifestyle, not just a shoe. “If I'm able to inspire just a couple more at a time to find their own walk, find their own life, find their own inspiration, find their own identity, that for me is what makes everything more fulfilling,” he says.
A La Brea brick-and-mortar debuts in October and the brand Blitz will soon launch an upcoming project with The RealReal.
A version of this story first appeared in the Aug. 7 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.