If there's one thing we look to celebrity athletes for - aside from the obvious - it's to take fashion cues from the things they wear off the field, court and ice. Sport and style have long been intrinsically linked together and now, as even the most stringent leagues loosen the reigns on custom apparel restrictions, the two are likely to come together more and more, in-game and on the street.
One good example of this is the National Football League's #mycausemycleats program, which allows for players to break the...old school regulations (page 28, for those interested) around footwear for one week of the season and sport custom cleats on the field in support of charities, organizations and movements that they have a stake in. This flies directly in the face of the existing norm, which was to fine players for wearing any kind of footwear that didn't adhere to their team's uniform color scheme. Everyone who knows fashion knows that shoes - especially sneakers - have one of the biggest followings, cultures even, of all and there are a lot of professional football players that love to flex the footwear. Now, thanks in part to this new NFL initiative, they're able to do so on the field in front of the largest audience imaginable and this is providing some very talented artists with a very unique canvas to work with: athletic cleats!
One of these artists, Nicholas Avery, works out of Fabes Sole High in Buffalo, New York. Avery, who got his start in sneaker customization by simply deciding to try his hand at cleaning up a couple pairs of his own has witnessed first-hand the passion of those in the sneaker culture and seen how this passion is beginning to soak its way into professional sports. After displaying several of his early custom pairs in a local shop window In Buffalo, Avery's work caught a lot of eyes and generated a great deal of word-of-mouth promotion.
Buffalo Bills' running back LeSean McCoy was the first NFL player Avery worked with, and from the hype generated he's gone on to produce dozens of pairs of custom cleats for some of the NFL's biggest names. Avery partnered with Nike during the 2016 season in support of #mycausemycleats and flew to Oregon to work with the Nike team directly. In this endeavour, Avery created cleats for a number of players, league-wide including...
...Cincinnati Bengals' QB Andy Dalton, showcasing the Andy & Jordan Dalton Foundation insignia. The foundation provides daily support and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for seriously ill and physically challenged children and their families in Cincinnati and elsewhere...
...a green and white pair for San Francisco wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (formerly of the Bills), sporting the green ribbon of Cerebral Palsy in honour of Goodwin's sister Deja...
...and even an artistically inspired pair in support of Black Lives Matter for Bills' free safety Corey Graham.
Through this work with the NFL, word of Avery and his designs has spread, and even people who don't follow football will have seen his work recently, sported on the ice by Washington Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin, who recently skated warmups in a pair of Avery's custom skates for the Capitals' Russian Heritage Night. The artwork on the skates was inspired by Ovechkin's Russian heritage and American career, in a celebration of both cultures.
The skates were auctioned off for charity, with proceeds going to the American Special Hockey Association, following the game.
Keep your eyes peeled for Avery's work gracing the feet of your favorite athletes down the line, and if you haven't already, check out the video for some insight into his style, inspiration and work!