Katty Customs & Just Blaze Star In 'Fresh Pair'
Sneakerhead culture is built on the allure of exclusivity. Don’t believe us? Just take to social media and view an array of posts from gloating footwear fans about unique one-off creations they’ve found on Grailed or a local boutique - which serves as a win-win for both collectors and creators alike. For the sneaker enthusiast, they get to flaunt what they’ve gleaned and optionally choose to flex their style. As for the creatives behind the customized footwear, this offers them the opportunity to showcase their art to the world and subsequently gain a captivated audience.
Within the tight network of sneaker customizers is Nicolle Knight, a.k.a. Katty Customs, who has been adding a personalized touch to shoes for over six years. Her vivid and highly detailed hand-painted creations have been donned by celebrities like Chris Brown, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and more.
When you combine two sneakerheads on a digital series, you get Just Blaze & UPROXX present...Fresh Pair with Katty Customs. Music producer and DJ Just Blaze is renowned for his work in hip-hop, including producing many of the tracks on JAY-Z’s albums such as The Dynasty: Roc La Familia, The Blueprint, The Blueprint 2, and The Black Album. On Fresh Pair, which will debut at the beginning of 2022 on UPROXX’s YouTube channel, Katty and Just Blaze collaborate on creating custom-made dream sneakers for A-list guests. While Just Blaze helps with the brainstorming of the concepts, it’s Katty who works her sharp artistic skills on the sneakers. Katty’s mission by the end of the episode? She says, “I want them to be like, ‘Wow, where'd you get those shoes from?’”
Read on as we talk Fresh Pair with Katty and Just Blaze below.
When did you buy your first pair of dream sneakers? What attracted you to them?
Katty Customs: Okay, first it was a pair of Dunks. I cannot remember the specific name, but they were gray, orange, and white. They were super dope, and I think I was 14 at the time.
Just Blaze: In my case, it was probably the Adidas. This is back in probably ’86 or ’87. There was just something about them. It was probably the first one when I look back where I was like, ‘I bought that sneaker.’ Then, after that was the Jordan 3, for sure.
And the rest is history. Fresh Pair looks like an awesome show! So, getting into it, what was the inspiration behind it? Of course, you both have a love of sneakers, but is there anything else that encouraged you to take this show on?
JB: With the custom work that she's doing, it's art in itself. It’s not just about sneakers. It’s also about the art that goes into it. Also, when you're dealing with celebrities, these are guys that can literally just call Nike or call whoever and be like, ‘Hey, I want this in this colorway’ and get it made. So, it really kind of forces you to step up the creativity because it can't be just as simple as a cool colorway. So, we showcase the creativity and the art that goes into creating these custom shoes, as opposed to just saying, ‘Hey, here's a pair of shoes in a color you have never seen before.’
KC: Yeah, I completely agree. Music artists have exclusive sneakers. They can go to Nike and get it in a different colorway, but this is different. Me and Just can bring something different as far as getting a little bit more about their background and putting it on a shoe. So, it’ll be really special to them.
I like how you both touched on the concept of Fresh Pair is about more than just a sneaker; it’s about the art. I know the show is via FaceTime, but in what ways do you both partner together to come up with these creations?
JB: Well, it’s her show when it comes to the art. I've been doing this for a long time in terms of collecting sneakers pretty much all my life now. On top of that, a lot of the subjects and artists that we’ll be dealing with I know because of what I do for a living, and I have a bit more intimate knowledge of them. So, when a name comes up, I'm part of the brainstorming process in terms of where she could draw inspiration from facts about the artists that we're dealing with that she might not be aware of and offer just a different perspective based on my experience in the sneaker culture and the music space. Then from there, it's her show.
KC: So basically, hip-hop and sneakers go hand-in-hand. Celebrities always want to have shoes that are super exclusive. Having Just Blaze as a mentor, he's going to give me all those ideas and things that we could brainstorm and put on a shoe. So, it's really great to have him as a mentor.
You both have an eye for what works in design. Just, what do you admire most about Katty?
JB: The way she arranges her colors and lays it out, it’s almost like in some cases it’s 3D if that makes. It's almost like they're popping out at you. It’s so consistent. When I say consistency, I don't mean necessarily matching just red and black all over, but consistency in terms of the art and the shoe, the quality of the design, and the way the colors are arranged to really give it that that 3D pop feel.
That’s great! Katty, you mentioned that Just Blaze is a mentor to you. So, putting the ball into your court, what would you say you admire about him as a mentor?
KC: Just the fact that he’s a legend and wants to take on this project with me. I've heard Just Blaze’s name since I was a kid from all the dope music that he's put out with different artists. It’s truly amazing.
What are you hoping will resonate with the viewers?
JB: For one, we want it to be entertaining. And two, again, we really just want them to understand the process that goes behind the art. A lot of times, people just see the end result and don't really know about what goes into it. So, I hope that they definitely walk away with a better understanding and greater appreciation of what goes into this process.
KC: I also want people to walk away when they’re done watching the show to see how much love I put into the shoe. It’s more than just sneakers. It’s like a souvenir. Some people buy sneakers, and they don't even wear them. They put them up just to say, ‘Yo, I have these.’ I want people to treat the sneakers that I make for them like that. I find happiness in doing what I love – and I love shoes.
Fresh Pair will air weekly on Wednesdays via YouTube and Uproxx.com in early 2022.
Tags: Gabrielle Pharms, Fashion, web-original, Entertainment, Katty Customs, Just Blaze, Fresh Pair,
Photography by: Steve Vasquez, Pete de Silva, Steve Kehayias