It’s no secret that we have a house full of shoe-lovers. Madison won’t admit it, but she loves wearing the proper shoe for the task, no matter the style. Kennedy, on the other hand, shops by brand before utility. And Nicole has never turned down a new pair of boots. Me? I’m happy with a comfortable pair of Chuck Taylors or some leather boat shoes.
Just a couple weeks ago we hit the mall (and a couple other stores) in search of new shoes for the girls. Kennedy keeps outgrowing her cross country running shoes and Madison has worn her Lugz sneakers so often that they are truly beginning to wear out. JC Penney was running a special where if you spent $100, you got a $20 voucher to redeem immediately. Nicole spied a fall-appropriate pair of store brand boots she just had to have… And while I did check out Foot Locker, Journeys, Finish Line and more to see the latest Converse and Vans on the market, in the end I remembered I was “over the hill” and shouldn’t be sporting cartoon characters on my feet.
It got me to thinking about other possible designs that might not only be appropriate for all ages, they could also display my own personality and likes at the same time. A few Google searches later and I found exactly what I was looking for – the ability to custom-make my own shoes! And not just picking out colors and style, but actually uploading high resolution graphics that would be sublimated onto my own custom kicks! What type of image did I choose? Board games of course!
What’s fantastic is that you can design and preview the shoes before they’ll be manufactured so you can get a good idea of the final result. I found four different sites offering customization services – some actual shoe companies and others printing on other company’s products. No matter the method, the final product is something that I think most any gamer would be proud to wear!
Let’s start with one of my two favorite sneaker companies – Vans. I was the type that wore the checkered skate shoes after the successful release of Fast Times at Ridgemont High and have always found them to be affordable and comfortable, so the ability to make my own was mind-blowing to me.
I first mocked up a pair of classic slip-ons featuring the board game design from Sagrada by Floodgate Games. The stained glass artwork looked great on a plain white pair, accented by a thin black line down the side. The end result would cost only $90, not much more than regular pairs at the mall!
The next board game I chose was Scythe by Stonemaier Games. With its darker design I elected to go with a brown motif on Vans’ Old Skool style. The gray stripe down the side is subtle enough to not interrupt the flow of the artwork, yet present enough to still be seen.
I then happened upon SpreadShoes, a small China-based company specializing in one-off custom shoes. While I cannot attest to the comfort or quality, their website certainly made designing a shoe based off a board game (in this case, Feudum) very easy.
We’re all familiar with Zazzle. What I didn’t realize is that among the t-shirts, mugs and tote bags was a line of customizable flip flops. These remind us of warm weather and the artwork for Settlers of Catan looks warm, so the imagery from this board game was a perfect fit for this design.
But what if we wanted to do a little more customization to the shoes other than just printing? BrandYourShoes offers side, tongue, shoestring and heel customization along with the application of a full color logo on the sides. One of the first hobby game companies we started working with years ago (and is still a favorite to this day) was Tasty Minstrel Games. A quick use of their online shoe designer and an upload of Tasty Minstrel’s logo and we had a solution that we would be proud to sport!
And just last week, Under Armour began offering a customized version of their popular Curry 5 line of sneakers. Not only can you upload your own image to be printed on the upper, you can choose matching laces, heel accents and soles! We decided to go with one of the hit tile games from last year, Azul by Next Move Games!
These are just five companies we found that let you design your new kicks from start to finish and provided a digital mockup in real time. There are a couple other companies that prefer to communicate by email, with an artist on the other end making sure the designs are submitted correctly. A little longer process, but I’m sure the results are just as good, if not better!
What board game design would you put on your shoes?