You don’t have to be an Instagram addict to have caught a good look at some dope customs of the recent OFF-WHITE x Nike Air Presto drop doing the rounds. But while the dye hype seems to be reserved for the Presto, there’s a whole world of sneaker silhouettes calling out for a custom.
It wasn’t long after the official OFF-WHITE account reposted a custom by Massimo Taylor of Berlin retailer Solebox, that none other than John Mayer had done the same, closely followed by many of the other lucky winners of Abloh’s latest Nike silhouette.
Uploads with the hashtag #readymadeoffwhite continue to emerge from those sharing their own creations, from knit-only to whole shoe colorings in rainbow, hombre and coffee-stained renditions. And if you’ve been inspired by this flurry of creativity, you’ll be glad to hear that the dyeing process is not as difficult as it might look. Whether you’re a dab hand at customizations or this is your first attempt at DIY coloring, here we’re outlining how to dye sneakers and put your own personal touch on your favorite footwear.
Having customized his own last week, Highsnobiety footwear writer Fabian Gorsler‘s OFF-WHITE x Nike Air Prestos lived to tell the tale in some wavy new blue/green hues. “Dyeing my OFF-WHITE x Nike Air Prestos was surprisingly easy once I had all the materials,” says Fabs. “I bought RIT Dye on Amazon and got masking tape and a plastic cover from Modular, an arts and crafts store. The rest (bucket, hot water, and dish detergent) I had at home.
“To achieve a solid dye, the water needs to be hot (just below boiling) for as much of the process as possible. Luckily my faucet gets pretty hot and I added some boiling water to the bucket from the kettle for good measure.” Here’s his step-by-step guide to how he proceeded from there.
1/ Add a teaspoon of dish detergent so that the dye spreads and mixes more evenly.
2/ Add half of the dye (or more for a deeper color) to the hot water and mix.
3/ Wet your shoes under the tap before putting them in the water so they absorb the dye better. (I also taped up the soles and the lace cage to protect those from the dye).
4/ After that, submerge the shoes for as long as you want — anywhere between 10 to 60 minutes is recommended depending on how deep a dye you want. Make sure the soles are facing up so that the upper absorbs the bulk of the dye.
5/ Remove the sneakers from the dye solution and take off any tape. Rinse in cold water until the tap runs clear and no more dye is coming off.
6/ Finally, give them a warm wash with soap before letting them dry overnight.
Note that while Fabian tried to protect certain parts of the shoe from the dye, it didn’t work perfectly because the tape’s adhesive was affected by the heat of the water. This meant that some dye trickled in, creating a marbled effect. “In the end I quite like it,” admits Fabian. “Next time I’ll be more careful with how I protect certain parts of the shoe. I’ve heard Vaseline works well in that regard.”
But if you were unlucky enough to have caught an L on the Prestos, all is not lost. Shiny white kicks from all our favorite brands are waiting for some personalization. Like the freshly dropped Nike x Travis Scott Air Force 1 customs above, shoes like the Nike M2k Tekno (dropping in men’s sizes later this week), adidas’ Nizza high top, and the Reebok Run.r 96 can all be livened up with a dye job if you have the right tools for the job.
Below, you can browse our full selection of dyeable sneakers, along with some nifty products tailor-made for leather and suede customs that might come in handy. Be sure to let us know if you’ll be customizing your own sneakers – and any clever tips you discover along the way — in the comments.