Customize Your Shoes for Cheap by Completely Ruining Them

by Matt Powers

Step 1: Buy Shoes A Half Size Too Big So That Your Toe Will Poke Through One Of Them In A Few Months And You’ll Be Forced To Customize
When you’re shopping for shoes, never compromise looks for comfort. For example, if you really want your desired style in gray, but they only have 11.5’s left, definitely don’t go with the navy blue that you like almost as much that they do have in the 11. Also don’t wait the three days for the new shipment. Never postpone your great new, new shoe life by even one second.

Buy the gray ones even though they feel roomy. In two months, the friction caused by your big toe rubbing against the canvas top instead of nestled safely in the rubber casing at the tip of your left shoe will cause a hole to form and grow. This will force your hand on repairing the shoe. If you don’t have the money to get it done professionally or to buy a new pair, you’re about to have some sweet customized shoes.

Step 2: Get Pitied By An Art Supply Store Clerk
You’re going to need to find materials to give your shoes that “you” look. When I “me’d” my shoes, I needed canvas, and luckily I live near a design school, so there were plenty of art supply stores around. Initially, you may want to get canvas the same color as your shoes. But canvas naturally comes in tan, and dying it requires money. Later you will call your two-toned shoes part of your “independent brand of thinking.”

After finding the canvas section at the store, a clerk will ask you how many square yards of canvas you need. After she finishes laughing when you tell her “a couple square inches would be fine,” she will pick up a scrap of canvass off a work bench and gave it to you for free, saying they don’t have the necessary metrics to ring up a section of canvas so small. Already running lean with the free canvas, you should opt to spend an extra forty cents on the “Extra Hold” super glue. This will be essential later.

Step 3: Really Mangle Your Shoe When You’re Trying To Put The Patch In There
Gluing a small piece of material under your busted shoe sounds easy, but it is actually one of the hardest shoe things to do in the whole world. You will very quickly realize that super glue almost instantly gets soaked up by canvas, rendering it useless in anything less than heaping applications. You will also discover that potent glue and canvas creates a bizarre chemical reaction that produces a wispy, foul-smelling gas.

You will look this up on the internet, and there you will find zero information on this topic. This will immediately cause you to think that you are in a fugue-like state brought on by this mysterious gas and your consciousness has entered into a reality identical to our own except that all information about canvas/glue gas has been wiped from the internet, thus trapping you in this fake reality for eternity. This will freak you out for a bit but even in fake realities you’re going to want your feet looking fresh, so you’ll need to press on here.

Another side effect of this super glue/canvas reaction is that is makes the canvas incredibly hot for a few seconds. To get around this, roll up a paper towel and used it as a barrier between your hand and the red hot canvas. While your hands will be safe, you’ll now have to deal with the huge issue of large chunks of paper towel being attached to the canvas, which somehow bonds way better to canvas than canvas. Pulling this paper towel off will rip the canvas plug off the shoe completely, and subsequent tries will make the hole bigger and much more unmanageable.

Step 4: Due To Your Myriad Failures, Cut Lightning Bolts Into Your Shoes And Pretend Like That’s What Your Plan Was All Along
With the hole of your shoes increasing due to your systemic inability to do anything right, your only saving grace is to cut something “creative” into your shoe and pretend like that was your artistic vision ever since day one. Practice saying things like “factory default? I’d rather die” and “feel free to live in your assembly line prisons. I’m a free thinker.” Also use hastags on Twitter like #postconsumerism #iamnotanumberiamme. These will help distract people from your awfully-altered, tattered shoes.

Start cutting your shoes with scissors, but then go for a knife and be sure to almost cut your index finger off a minimum of four times. Quickly understand that the parts that you glued previously have become incredibly hard now and require brute cuts that alter the shape of the lightning bolt until it is almost unrecognizable. When you finish, realize that you have almost cut to the far left of the shoe where the sole meets the canvas top, and further realize that will be almost impossible to glue. Put a big ol’ piece of canvas in there, and apply glue liberally. Take special note here that the glue also radically changes the color of canvas, so now your lightning bolt looks like has vitiligo. Make sure to think up a way to call this self-expression.

Step 5: Alter Your Other, Non-Holed Shoe Too For Symmetry’s Sake And To Make This Whole Fucking Mess Look Intentional
Even though this shoe is perfectly functional, bust out that knife again because everyone will know you were patching a mistake in your other shoe if only one has a lightning bolt. You could put another design on here, like a moon or a cloud, but at this point the only thing you have going for you is your recent experience of crudely hacking a lightning bolt into a shoe. You can remember what went wrong and different strategies you can take to avoid repeating your many failures, but you’ll quickly learn these new ideas are far worse than your original, terrible ideas. This shoe will look much worse, and you’ll note to future admirers that this was actual the one you did first.

Step 6: Strut Your Stuff, Because You Look Great!
Now that your shoes are ready, show them off to the world. You’re a free thinker, and now your shoes have finally caught up to your independent brand of uniqueness. Field questions at parties like “did you buy those like that?” or “you should return those shoes” or “it looks like your feet are vomiting.” Also take special note as the world adorns you with jealous praises that you should not wear these new “you” shoes in any sort of inclement weather, as the canvas has immediately started peeling back revealing many more holes. This will only get exponentially worse in the coming days and weeks.

Try your best not to think that you only started with one small hole, and now both sections of canvas are atrophying every time you so much as wiggle your toes or a gentle wind sweeps by. In fact, try your best not to think about your shoes at all. And why should you? You’re a free thinker. Your next idea will change the world. Also it’s now raining and your feet are soaked. But don’t worry too much, because you are almost certainly in a pseudo-reality, where you will remain for the rest of eternity, unable to shake yourself from the canvas/glue-smoke-induced coma you put yourself into just trying to be yourself. In this new plane of your solitary existence, none of your actions have consequence so you are free to enact good and bad in the world without congratulation or penalty because “good” and “bad” no longer have meaning, or even exist. God does not judge in this apocraphyl canvas dimension because he does not know it exists, so it will be liberating to be free from the bonds of archaic morality, but this will be a hollow victory because nothing means anything. You have paid the ultimate price for self-expression: banishing yourself to an existence directly parallel to this one and agonizingly similar but without highs and lows, joys and sadness, or a meaningful contemplation of the self. You no longer have a reflection or cast a shadow.

I did all this, and I don’t regret it. My shoes look fantastic.

Matt Powers lives in Brooklyn.

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