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Conversations with Ian Alden

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ian Alden.

Hi Ian, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I’ve had a passion for collecting shoes for a while. Then, a couple of years ago, I was introduced to some shoe customizers, who inspired me to create my own pair of shoes. I can still remember making my own shoe pattern with a cut up pair of jeans, which unfortunately, failed horribly and the shoes never came to be! I quickly learned that my lack of knowledge and training would always hold me back. Shortly after, I found some customizers that were teaching classes on how to make your own pair. I wasn’t able to afford the class. So I worked hard and in 2019, after about a year of saving, I had enough to take classes with the Shoe Surgeon in LA. The class was an awesome experience where we learned how to deconstruct and then reconstruct a Nike Air Jordan 1. And as they say, the rest is history, I was hooked! At that time, I was noticing the exclusive Nike shoe releases were increasingly harder to get, so I  was especially excited to make my own special pairs that nobody had.  I wasn’t really seeking to make them for others.

Fast forward to 2020.  The Covid-19 pandemic forced me to shut down my small business for a good period of time, and with a family to feed, time on my hands, and a new skill and passion for making shoes, I decided to give it a go!  I started off perfecting my craft by making a couple of pairs for myself and one for a close friend. Eventually, some people caught on, and started asking if I would consider selling them a pair. Through word of mouth, I started receiving orders from family and friends. I am happy to say that with some creativity, sweat, and some luck, my new-found talent has allowed me to continue to get consistent orders for a good part of the past year.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Making shoes isn’t always easy. It’s a long process that usually takes me around 40 hours per pair. Mistakes could easily be made if you don’t reconstruct in a particular order. Some materials can be very delicate to work with, which makes it way more time consuming to put together. For these reasons, I make sure I never speed through any of the steps.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
What many people don’t know about me from the shoe world is that I have a black belt in Jiu Jitsu and am a small business owner of a martial arts gym.  This year has afforded me the ability to try and grow my shoe business as well. It should come as no surprise that I have always been artistic and have many friends who are artists and designers.  I love having this creative outlet and having the pleasure of coming up with new concepts for new pairs of shoes.  I will always strive to personalize each client’s pair in a special and unique way. Like anything, practice makes perfect and I’ve definitely noticed my skills have grown with each pair. I’m not really sure what sets me apart from others. Super talented customizers will always inspire me, but I make an effort to keep my ideas original so I find the best way to do that is to not look at everyone’s work.

Do you have recommendations for books, apps, blogs, etc?
To be honest most of my work I learned with practice.  Trial and error was my method.  If you are interested in making shoes or learning more about shoe customizers, I would say find a class and then practice as much as you can. Oddly, what I can recommend is finding your process and what works for you.  When I work I am usually listening to podcasts or music. If it’s a podcast, it’s mostly something silly that makes me laugh. Two Bears One Cave, Bill Burr, TFATK and Joe Rogan being the main ones I listen to. I also like a little bit of every type of music except country (sorry y’all) mainly hip hop and R&B.  Set the vibe and get inspired!


  • $1000- Starting price for a full decon/recon
  • $2500 and up- For a full exotic material pair

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