Thursday, July 25, 2024

This Chennai-based startup customises your sneakers so you can put your personality on them

Nivedita Arvind, Karan Dayanidhi Maran, and Divya Dayanidhi Maran

Nivedita Arvind, Karan Dayanidhi Maran, and Divya Dayanidhi Maran
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

From racing tracks, and nightclubs to fashion runways and even museums, sneakers are having a good run. Given that the Design Museum (London), Musee de l’Homme (Paris), and Brooklyn Museum (New York City) have had shows dedicated to these kicks over the past few years, the late Virgil Abloh’s (former artistic director for Louis Vuitton) statement that this generation may value sneakers more than a Matisse, does not seem far fetched.

And with the trend of customisation picking up, sneakers are becoming works of art. Chennai-based K-kix is the newest entrant to the customised sneaker scene. The venture was launched by a young team comprising Nivedita Arvind (25), Divya Dayanidhi Maran (22) and Karan Dayanidhi Maran (19). Sneaker lovers themselves, they say they want to “give people an opportunity to be able to use sneakers as canvas.”

A customised footwear

A customised footwear

“You can put your personality on the shoe and this can be done by customising,” says Karan. K-kix offers hundreds of designs to choose from. In addition, the client can also interact with the designers on the team and create their own looks. Sports, pop culture, abstract art, sparkles, glitter and Swarovski crystals… the options are diverse.

The team stresses that their art work is never a duplicate of the original, but instead the artists’ interpretation of the subject. “We will work with you to create something you are proud to wear but it won’t be a copy,” categorically states Nivedita, adding “Every thing is hand drawn, hand illustrated. Even if we do Iron Man on a shoe, it won’t be an Iron Man figure but its elements.”

At the launch with Tanzeel Ur Rahman, the COO of K-kix

At the launch with Tanzeel Ur Rahman, the COO of K-kix

K-kix has customised 30 pairs so far, and are using Nike’s Air Force 1 shoes as their canvas for now. It is not just the colour, logos or art, people sometimes want minute details, like the threads on the shoes to match their laces, says Karan.

Divya, Nivedita and Karan have disparate tastes and ideas when it comes to what they want their perfect pair of sneaker to look like. This perhaps helped with creating the design bank. Divya does not want them too colourful but likes them to match her outfits. Nivedita confesses she loves colours; the louder the better. “My favourite pair has two different colours,” she says. Karan prefers a minimalist, clean look. “I don’t like too much going on. The shoe is an extension of my outfit and I like to complement it with the colours of my outfit,” he adds.

K-kix has a team of 50 artists now. Different artists specialise in different techniques. For example, some may focus only on colour blocking. “All the artists are from South India. We want to provide a platform for artists who wouldn’t otherwise have had it,” says Nivedita. There are also designers and graphic designers. The digital designers create a mock up of the shoe that is then sent to the client for approval. Post that, the artist creates this on the sneakers. Simple as it sounds, it requires a lot of time and involves a lot of steps. It takes two to three weeks to complete the order.

During the development stages, the quality check included everything from the sneakers being dunked in water, stabbed at with a knife, and the family’s dogs also got to play with them. “Quality is the most important for us,” says Karan.

Sustainabiltiy is also something the team is working on. “We are planning to restore peoples’ old sneakers. Sometimes people don’t want to throw out their old pair because it might have memories associated with it and sometimes they may not want to spend on a new pair. We can restore these shoes and recustomise them,” says Nivedita.

The customisation along with the shoe starts at ₹17,999. “We’ve also got orders going up to ₹30,000. The age group is primarily 18-30, though they did create a pastel-heavy pair for a nine-year-old boy.
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