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Constructing the Classics with London Sneaker School

The end of June marked the very first Bespoke Air Max 1 Course offered by the guys at London Sneaker School (LSS). The five-day intensive course began on Monday the 22nd of June and wrapped up on Friday when the three shoemaking students unveiled their final products to a crowd of onlookers. I was lucky enough to be invited down to the workshop over the course of the week to meet the guys, snap some photographs and get a feel for how LSS conduct their sneaker construction lessons. The experience as a whole was so much fun and I learnt a lot just from watching and listening, despite not participating myself.

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Prior to the start of the course, London Sneaker School provides you with a template of an Air Max 1, as well as a list of materials which are on offer to use. This gives you an opportunity to become familiar with some of the leathers and other materials which you will use during your time at LSS. It also means you can come up with some design ideas before stepping into the workshop.

Upon arrival, I was shown through the schedule for the week to follow as well as the impressive underground workshop located in Hackney, London. The three students; Morgan, Danny and Damon each had their own ideas about the direction they were heading in with their own AM1 designs. While for some it was solely an idea in their head, others had exact mockups of what they wanted their shoes to look like.

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Every component of the Air Max 1’s you create during your course at LSS is fully customisable meaning you have complete creative control over your finished sneaker. Even the colour of the outsole, midsole and air bubble can be selected to fit your preferences, achieved by using Nike ID (or By You) soles as donors for your handmade pair.

Some materials available, for example, more stretchy leathers, can be harder to work with, which can prove problematic if it’s your first time using them. However, as part of the course, you first assemble a practice upper of an Air Max 1. You do this in the same fashion as you would if you were making your final piece, serving as a tester to experiment with materials and processes which you will rely on further in the week.

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‘Piet Mondrain’ Nike Air Max 1’s by Damon (@Damonma1)

During the five day course, students are taught everything there is to know about how a sneaker is assembled by hand. This is perhaps the feature of the course which piqued my initial interest, as not only do you end up with your own bespoke’s, but you learn about the fundamentals of shoemaking. The guys were directed through everything from material selection, cutting and sewing, stitching and clicking panels, lasting and sole bonding by Thomas and Jase.

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‘Horween Beast’ Nike Air Max 1’s by Morgan (@Morprime)

While previous experience may play a factor in the outcome of your shoe, it is not necessarily important. The three shoemaking students each had a varying experience when it came to shoemaking, yet each of them left the course with a sublime pair of Air Max 1’s assembled from scratch. While there may be some glue marks or imperfections, this is to be expected. Any handmade product is more than likely to have a few flaws here and there, especially if you haven’t done anything like it before. But these ‘imperfections’ only add to the character of one’s shoe and, in my opinion, serve as a reminder of the experience as a whole.

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‘Kickin’ Off’ Nike Air Max 1’s by Danny (@Dannychillman)

Both Thomas and Jase are excellent teachers and their knowledge of shoemaking is clear from the moment you meet them. After witnessing the course first hand and seeing the final products come off the last I am even more keen to jump onto the course myself. If you share the same excitement as I do and would like to learn how to construct classic sneakers yourself, head over to the London Sneaker School website. At the time of writing this there are three upcoming sessions in the near future which are as follows:

5-Day Shoemaking Course Upcoming Dates:

  • Monday 10th August 2020
  • Monday 14th September 2020
  • Monday 19th October 2020

London Sneaker School Course Dates

Furthermore, the guys at LSS are currently running a giveaway in collaboration with @Morprime giving you the chance to win a spot on their Air Max 1 course for free! Follow the link below to London Sneaker School’s Instagram to enter:

London Sneaker School on Instagram

London Sneaker School Online

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Thanks again to Thomas and Jase for having me down to check out their very first Air Max 1 course! It was great meeting you all and I’m excited to see what the future has in store for LSS.

By Toby Eldredge @CrepCultureBlog 

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London Sneaker School: A Sneaker Revolution

Sneaker popularity over the last ten years has expanded at an unprecedented rate and now, what started out as a subculture intertwined with music, sport and skateboarding has blown up into a leading economic industry. At the same time, we live in an age of growing creativity amongst young people, where individuals want to create and learn about processes which may result in their favourite pair of shoes. Luckily for us, learning these skills is no longer out of reach, as professionals of the art have moved in a more transparent direction when it comes to sharing their knowledge.

In a movement which began primarily in the US, sneakerheads now have the opportunity to have hands-on experience in the process of shoemaking by deconstructing and reconstructing iconic kicks. For the first time, this once in a lifetime experience is available in the UK as of last week. London Sneaker School (LSS) is the collaborative effort of a team with over 15 years of shoemaking experience, founded this year by Jase Cooper and Thomas Rowe (pictured below). Their aim is to develop LSS into a platform which teaches people about the ins and outs of sneaker assembly while bridging the gap between product and consumer. For the most part, the sneakers we wear on our feet are manufactured thousands of miles away on the other side of the world. This is something which the team at LSS are attempting to overcome, believing that “bringing production closer to home opens up new opportunities for creativity and expression by understanding our sneakers on a new level”.

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How it works.

London Sneaker School will be offering a range of five-day intensive shoemaking courses, the dates and details of which being posted on their Instagram (@londonsneakerschool). The first course has already been announced and has sold out, due to take place on the 22nd of June 2020. This first set of students will learn how to make a pair of Nike Air Max 1’s using a range of modern and traditional techniques under the guidance of experts at LSS. The classes are kept to a maximum of four students per shoemaker in an effort to maximise your time shared with the professionals. A range of leathers and materials are available to use in order to craft your ideal pair of Air Max 1’s, allowing a substantial level of customisation creativity. At the end of the five-day course, you will have learnt how to use tools and machinery, gained a knowledge of the processes as well as go home with your own 1 of 1 Air Max 1’s!

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Whether you’re an experienced sneaker customiser or a novice enthusiast, you will be catered for at LSS. The courses accommodate for everyone, so previous skill or experience is not required whatsoever! If you’re looking to deepen your footwear industry knowledge, start your own brand and want more insight or just want your own handcrafted sneakers, their courses are for you.

The sneaker making courses offered at LSS are available for the price of £1700, which can be paid upfront or in instalments over three months. When comparing the price to other similar programmes, this course is one of the more economical if you consider what you get out of the five days. One similar programme was introduced by popular sneaker customer and designer, The Shoe Surgeon, in 2018. His courses were based in Los Angeles and cost $3,000 (around £2,460), a substantially higher price than that at LSS. The Nike Bespoke programme is another sneaker customisation outlet costing £1,000 and allows you to design your own Air Max 1 or Air Force 1’s. The programme enables you to get up close and personal with materials, patterns and colour pallets. However, the Bespoke programme does not teach you how to craft your own sneakers, instead, you design them and Nike put them together for you! Furthermore, NikeLab is no longer offering Bespoke appointments in London, meaning it is only available in the US. Today, London Sneaker School have announced their next course dates. Their follow up session will take place on the 10th of August 2020 at their workshop in Hackney, London.

For more information on LSS, their next course dates and how to get involved, follow the link below to their website. I have also linked their Instagram account down below so you can stay up to date.

London Sneaker School online – www.londonsneaker.school

London Sneaker School Instagram – instagram.com/londonsneakerschool