I recently had the opportunity to speak with Trevor Duffles of District Customs 202. Trevor is a sneaker customizer that specializes in custom designing and painting some of the most known brand of sneakers such as Nike, Lebron James sneakers, as well as others. Be sure to check out Trevor’s interview below to see how he got into customizing, his creative process for doing the designs, and how you too can own a pair of his designed sneakers. You don’t want to miss this.
What’s up Trevor, how are you?
I’m doing well. Just getting myself ready to graduate from UNC Asheville and prepare for SneakerCon this April in DC.
What city is District Customs based out of?
I was born and raised on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. When I was 16 I started painting on shoes as a hobby because I could never afford all the shoes I wanted, and when I saw kids my age like C2 customs making serious headlines I thought it was just a really cool way to express my style and interests. However, during my Sophomore year of college, I was inspired by the success of Mach and a few others to make it a real business and created District Customs. So even though the name has geographic ties to my hometown, all the business I’ve conducted has been in NC for the most part.
Cool. Walk us through how you make your custom sneakers. What’s the process?
So every custom has to start with a general concept or a theme with specific design elements. Usually I do some “research” and just a scroll through Google images related to my concept. Other times everything comes straight from my head. The next step would be to find the right base pair. Some designs are just better executed on other bases.
What’s the popular brand of sneakers you’re asked to customize the most?
Typically the most commonly requested base pairs are Lebrons or Nike Foamposites.
What were come of the challenges you faced with getting your business up and running?
One of the biggest concerns when starting any business is making sure you have the right resources and competences (or things you know you do well best). Acquiring the right resources in the custom sneaker industry is expensive and can be really difficult to find. Your average work space, for example, probably has anywhere close to or over $1000 worth of equipment. Other guys like recon customizers have several sewing machines that can run them up close to a thousand a pop too. Regarding the competencies, when I first started I was trying to do a bunch of stuff like custom watches, hats, belts, phone cases, as well as repair jobs. After several months of that I came to the conclusion that I was a lot more efficient and the quality of my work was better if I focused on selling and marketing one type of product line: custom sneakers.
It worked out well I see. Who are some of the celebrities or athletes you’ve designed custom sneakers for?
[Laughs] Thanks. There’s still a lot of work to be done and all of this has been done while still a full-time student in college, so I can’t wait to see how things progress while I’m full-time. The one thing that has been pretty sparse during my time as a professional customizer is orders from celebrities and athletes. I’ve done work for Chris Hairston who plays for the Buffalo Bills, and Flying Lotus, who is a world-renowned DJ and had his own station, FLYLOFM in GTAV. Flying Lotus is one of the biggest role models and favorite musicians of all time. All the work I’ve done for him has been purely voluntary and even though I haven’t been paid, I’ve been able to chill with him on his tour bus and backstage while he plays a show. I also did a pair for one of the sexy ladies from the popular Instagram group: Taz’s Angels. Some possible future jobs are in the works for another one of my all time favorite drummers Thomas Pridgen (I also have been playing drums since I was 5 years old), so that’s another dream come true. I used to watch videos of Thomas Pridgen playing back in High school so I could be just like him [Laughs]. I actually got to meet him when I delivered a pair for Flying Lotus at a show down here in Asheville.
Dope. I used to play drums too. What are some of the most creative customs you’ve designed?
I’ve gotta say, that’s a really tough question to answer. My mission is to be as creative as I can so I hope that every pair I do is more creative than the last. The only thing is that most of the shoes I have made have been by request so I don’t complete design control. But I think most creative pairs were when I have made a pair on my own. The “Kyushu” Jordan 1, the “Cork” Jordan 3, the “Death Proof Pack”, and the “What the 90’s” have been my most creative pairs to date.
Do you have any other talents outside of custom designing?
I like to think that I’m really good at a lot of things, but I haven’t mastered anyone of them. I started drawing and painting as an infant and started playing the drums at the age of 5. Until I got to college I actually thought I was going to pursue the life of a Professional drummer. In my senior year of High school I was in this city-wide predominant arts competition in DC. I made it to the final round of the competition where the last 10 people out of about 600 people who first tried out got to compete at the Kennedy Center in DC, in front of a big audience and celebrity judges. Although I didn’t win, I was the only drummer to make it to that round and it was really a fantastic experience. I’m also a really passionate cook and love good food and making it for me and other people to enjoy. If all else fails for my plans for the future, I’m going to probably open up a really cool unique restaurant. Totally random, but I’m also a black belt. [Laughs]
Wow that’s pretty good man. It’s good to be well-rounded. Where can our readers check out your work at just in case they want a pair of customized sneakers?
Right now the best places to see the most recent work is on my Instagram @districtcustoms202, and Facebook.com/district-customs.9. Unfortunately, being in College has pushed the release of my official website back several years as I’m trying to really put out as cool and aesthetically appealing of a site as I can; that’s secure and functional at the same time.
Cool. What can we expect from District Customs in the future?
Another great place to see my work in person would be at Sneakercon DC this April and some other events that I will advertise my attendance at on Instagram. There are some pieces in motion right now that I can’t really reveal that can have some major impacts on how I run my business. But one thing people should get excited for is the first mobile pop-up custom sneaker gallery. As of right now though, I’m just concentrating on getting my ass out of the gravitational pull of higher education and into the real world, so I can put the throttle down all the way with District Customs. If this is where I am now, who knows what’s in store with the next year?
I feel you man. On behalf of The Bachelor Project it was a pleasure speaking with you. Is there anything you would like to say to our readers?
To everyone who understands the art for behind this custom sneaker thing, all of us customizers that appreciate it too sincerely thank you. Whether or not this industry is as popping as it has been for the past 2-3 years in this next chapter, we will always be able to do one of the things we love most because of people like you. The best of us work incredibly hard to produce nothing but the best work. With that said, the competition in this industry is out of this world and it’s only pushing us to keep up the creativity and quality of our product. So for the hype beasts out there, (yeah I said it) stop asking us to do the same old shit otherwise this is going to get boring and eventually die out like any other fad in fashion. If you keep pushing us to be better and think OUT OF THE BOX, this will keep going on for the foreseeable future. Thanks you guys, take care!
Courtesy of Trevor Duffles and Dominico Maxwell