To a football player, the difference between the greatest run of the game and an embarrassing fumble could come down to the cleats he wears. Such an important item should be more personal, and artist Marcus Rivero is looking to do just that. Rivero is a highly talented shoe artist who is producing custom cleats for players at both the college and NFL level. This venture started with a single pair of shoes that he painted and gave to his girlfriend for Valentines Day. “I’ll get a cool pair of shoes and I’ll do something with them.” said Rivero.
Rivero never imagined that his work would grow past a few customers, but a single order changed everything for him and his nascent business. Former Miami Dolphins defensive back Nolan Carroll discovered Rivero’s work and wanted a custom pair of Jordans. Carroll was so pleased with the art that he approached Rivero with a new request. “It wasn’t really until right before the beginning of preseason, I kind of presented him with an idea like– ‘hey let’s try and do cleats.’
It was after this first order that Rivero’s work was finally gaining traction among players. One of the biggest challenges with custom paint jobs on cleats is durability. Rivero had started out customizing shoes for casual wear, and was able to successfully adapt his method to endure athletic use. Carroll was the first player to put his work to the test. “It works, you know, everything held up. I’ve never had a problem. I don’t think any other players have had a problem either, so he does good work.”
Business is booming for Rivero, who is working under the label Soles by Sir. He is providing custom cleats for several NFL players, and recently struck a deal with the University of Miami, which made him the first artist to produce custom cleats for an entire team. “Every single cleat was designed differently…it’s a lot of swag. Everybody was very happy and everybody was excited about those cleats.” said UM defensive back Deon Bush. Soles by Sir isn’t the only player in this game, with other work being put out by artists including Mache, Recon, and Dez Customz. One thing is guaranteed for Marcus and his business: a personal touch goes a long way. “I don’t look at this like a company, I look at this like fun.”
Video produced by Danyel de Villiers