Make Sneaker India: The Brand That Is Redefining Custom Footwear

Make Sneaker India: The Brand That Is Redefining Custom Footwear

Read on to know more about Make Sneaker India, a venture that promotes customisation, personalisation and artisanal Indian craftsmanship by creating one-of-one, unique sneakers.

Graduating with a degree in Industrial Design from MIT Institute of Design, Arghadeep Sarma is a Jack-of-all-trades when it comes to constructing and creating things. Having worked on numerous projects that vary from building custom motorcycles to art installations at some of the biggest music festivals in India, Sarma is now forging forward in his latest venture of custom-built and designed sneakers, aptly titled Make Sneaker India.

A sneaker made out of an old pair of joggers on a livestream workshop hosted by Arghadeep Sarma on Instagram
A sneaker made out of an old pair of joggers on a livestream workshop hosted by Arghadeep Sarma on Instagram

An avid shoe enthusiast since childhood, Sarma reveals that while he does have a soft corner for sneakers, his love for footwear transcends to all kinds of designs and styles - a contributing factor to creating his current customisable label.

It was after many a sleepless night, tossing and turning, trying to figure out the best way to cop a pair of the latest Jordan 1's in India, that the designer realized that custom building and creating a personal pair might just be the next best thing!

"I decided to make my own pair of footwear using my old trousers, and they turned out to be super cool. That's when I realized that I could develop this idea further and create a full-fledged brand."

Arghadeep Sarma

Citing the rising popularity of hype and sneaker culture in India, Sarma says one of the main reasons behind starting the brand was being able to provide people with something they could call entirely their own - a personal one-of-one piece, in times when exclusivity means everything.

"There has been a real rise in the 'hype-culture' in India - of copping exclusive and limited edition kicks - and the sneaker culture in India is also boosting. It made me decide to be the one creating those special pairs of kicks in India rather than just buying them."

Arghadeep Sarma

Sarma's foray into creating sneakers began from his background in building the aforementioned custom motorcycles. The idea of creating a personal product is something that resonated with the designer which further led him to explore his artistic inclinations with painting and personalization sneakers and following the work of some customizers globally.

"Through following customizers and artists, I got to know about recon sneakers (deconstruction & customisation) - where a pair of sneakers is recreated and restitched completely with new materials to portray a particular theme or design. They spoke to me more than any other commercial pair I had ever seen and I knew that I wanted to do something on similar lines and create something beautiful."

Arghadeep Sarma

Make Sneaker India talks about "creating art in footwear". It is a label that aims to represent art in the form of a sneaker or shoe. Sarma explains his ambition of wanting to provide a platform where people can explore their inspirations and create something unique that transforms an ordinary pair of kicks into something truly special.

Expanding on the creative process behind designing and building these custom kicks, Sarma explains that people can come with an inspiration or idea and everything from the base materials to the finishing touches can be specified by them. Opening an experiential store/studio space in Pune soon, people will be welcome to walk around, see and touch the materials they would like to include before deciding anything - making the experience all the more personal and immersive.

Original Designs: Construction in Progress
Original Designs: Construction in Progress

Sarma reveals that the concept is divided into 3 sections primary. The first is the in-house design collection which features a limited number of 15-20 new pairs that drop every month under the Make Sneaker India original label.

The second includes creating one-of-one, personalized customs for an individual where the designer interacts with the client, understands what they want, helps them pick fabrics, finishes, soles etc showing design developments and creating the shoe from scratch.

The last section offers the chance to customise/reconstruct branded pairs of sneakers for individuals - playing around with the silhouette and materials based on what the customer would like.

Original Designs:  Construction in Progress
Original Designs: Construction in Progress

"Our purpose is that our sneakers should speak out, say something, and represent the person or community. For us a custom shoe is an opportunity to create a one-of-one, original design where we indulge the client's opinions and ideas - discussing the design, choosing the best material according to the theme and art - giving them the experience of making his/her own pair of bespoke footwear."

Arghadeep Sarma

Apart from creating completely original shoes under the Make Sneaker original label, the brand also offers customization services for sneakers of varying brands to their patrons.

"My inspiration is based on our world - everything we see, touch and feel is my inspiration, and every day something new happens which may inspire or give me the opportunity to create something. A few artists and designers I look upto are Patrick Cox, Hayk Ananyan, brands like Filling Pieces, Clear Weather, Mason Garments, and customisers like Dominic Ciambrone aka The Shoe Surgeon, JBF customs and Sam Van IJzendoorn."

Arghadeep Sarma

Unlike custom clothes and accessories, the concept of handcrafted or boutique-made sneakers in India is a relatively untouched market as of now. Make Sneaker is trying to create a new niche with their venture and according to Sarma the initial response garnered by the brand has been very positive.

"India is a hub for wonderful fabrics, materials and art. Even regionally there are so many different types of artistic styles and I really want to showcase that. That's where I want to connect and create a platform for Indians and represent our craftsmanship globally."

Arghadeep Sarma

The designer does just as he says and a great example of his work is a customised Nike Air Max 90 titled 'Mekhela' due to the use of various traditional silks identified most commonly with the indigenous traditional Assamese dress.

Keeping in mind the fine line between cultural appropriation and appreciation, Sarma - who is Assamese himself - reveals his primary motive is to be able to promote Indian fabrics, heirlooms textiles and artistry. The traditional silk fabric used in the sneaker has been woven by craftsmen in Assam and has also been sourced from the town of Sualkuchi in the native State.

While the connotation of wearing a traditional textile on one's feet may be seen as disrespectful by some, the designer counters saying that the textile has been used in producing various goods and often souvenirs such as bags, clothes, accessories, etc. and this is just another avenue of bringing to light the craftsmanship and beauty of the textile while maintaining its origin integrity.

Another unique design in this ongoing series of Indian textile inspired customs is the Air Max 90 titled 'Karigar' that features luxurious brocade and Banarasi silk fabrics with Zari accents.

On upcoming future projects the designer drops slight hints towards a collaboration in the pipeline and says he looks forward to meeting, creating, and collaborating with creatives and brands all around the globe. On his take on the culture and what it means to him, Sarma's thoughts are pretty straight forward.

"Culture for me is to support, enhance and believe, for example - 5 individuals, coming together and sharing their views on a particular topic or product and engaging in creating a belief or enhancing their knowledge individually is something I see as a culture."

Arghadeep Sarma

He further elaborates that he would like to contribute to this very narrative by giving back to the community that has taught him and given him numerous insights.

"I think the knowledge and appreciation to wear, create and make amazing footwear is something I would love to talk about. In the future I would also like to organise workshops with regards to footwear, making shoes out of different, more sustainable materials and sharing the art of making footwear (especially sneakers) with anyone who has the interest!"

Arghadeep Sarma

Head over to Make Sneaker India's official Instagram page to check out their design and get a chance to customise your very own pair!

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