When it comes to custom-made sneakers, Jake Ferrato the man behind JBF Customs, has been leading the pack as one of the most innovative and creative individuals in the sneaker customizing world. The Akron native is known for using snakeskin, crocodile leather, shark skin and other luxurious materials on a wide range of sneakers.
Ferrato’s fanbase and business continue to grow every time he shares his latest creations. Even the worlds of entertainment and sports have taken notice of Ferrato’s work and have called upon him to customize sneakers for some of the biggest names in those industries. Ferrato recently teased online sneakerheads with a picture of his next creation, the “SOMP” Nike SB Dunk Highs for professional BMX rider Nigel Sylvester, due to get a full reveal very soon.
We caught up with the very busy Ferrato to speak on his come up in the custom sneaker world, his procedure designing the shoes and a celebrity he wishes to customize a sneaker for. Check out the full interview below.
What inspired you to start customizing sneakers?
I started out of necessity in 2008. I wear a 14 and could never find what I wanted at the time, mostly SBs, in that size, so I learned to make what I wanted to wear.
What was the first pair of sneakers you customized?
It was a pair of Nike Dunk lows painted with a very simple blue/grey/black scheme.
What made you want to get into the game of customizing sneakers?
I like making things, and I like sneakers, so it just kind of naturally happened.
How long does it usually take you to make a sneaker? And what’s the pair that took you the longest to create?
It’s a very long and labor-intensive process. The pair that’s taken me the longest I actually haven’t shown anybody yet. [Laughs]
Sneaker that you love to customize the most?
Hard question, and the answer definitely changes every few months. I always love Nike Blazers, Jordan 1s and adidas shell toes.
Can you tell a bit about your procedure when it comes to customizing shoes?
The soles are removed and then the uppers torn apart. I then decide what the new shoes should look like, cut the pieces and stitch them back together.
Give me a rundown of the celebrities that you have customized sneakers for.
Darrell Revis, Wale and AJ Green to name just a few.
What celebrity calls you the most to get his sneakers customized?
I’ve been talking to Wale a good amount lately. Hopefully we’ll get several pairs to put together in the next few months.
A celebrity that you desire to customize a sneaker for?
I really don’t go after celebrities. If they hit me up and are willing to pay, cool. But I’m perfectly content working with “normal” people. Wouldn’t mind seeing Rihanna in a pair though.
Is there a shoe that you refuse to customize?
There are lots. [Laughs] Some for technical reasons—most of the LeBron line—some because I just don’t like the silhouette—Spizikes.
With so many people customizing sneakers nowadays, do you feel like it’s getting over-saturated?
No way. I don’t think an art form can be over-saturated. I think that too many artists who are not yet good enough are given a platform via the blogs and Instagram, but that’s a different issue.
Tell me how you got into the whole python/snakeskin on a sneaker.
People have been putting snakeskin and all types of exotic leather on shoes for years. It’s really nothing new. The Jordan 3 elephant print is inspired by actual elephant hide. Then you have the 11s with python print. I just made the prints real.
What’s the price range for one of your sneakers?
$1,000 minimum. There is no maximum.
What’s your favorite shoe of all time?
Changes all the time, but usually Jordan 1s or Nike Blazers.
Out of all the sneakers you have customized, which one is your favorite and why?
Probably the Jet Life blazers. They were the first pair to really catch on fire on the blogs.
I see you have some clothing items on the site. Is that something that you’re developing in the process?
Slowly but surely, yep.
Since we are XXL, give me three of your favorite rappers of all time. And what album/artist are you currently listening to?
Shit, I don’t know—Jay Z, B.I.G. and Eminem. Currently I’m listening to The Pleasure Train. They don’t have an album out yet, but they’re dope.
Give us your Twitter and website where people can check out your work and order a pair customized sneakers?
Yeah, they can follow me on Twitter and IG @JBFCustoms and check out the website www.JBFcustoms.com.