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A Closer Look Into the World of the Sneaker Freaker Malo

Andre Williams

Tell us about yourself?

 

My name is Myles Nicholls but have been going by “Malo” since middle school. I’m from Delaware County but have been raised in and out of Philly all my life. I’m a Sophomore at Philadelphia University majoring in Fashion Merchandising and management. Skateboarding and art have always been my biggest influences over the years

 

How did you get started with doing customs?

I got into customs in 11th grade, I became interested in sneakers in 10th grade and wanted to see what I could do to them to throw in my own spin. I like to create things and I’m always interested in trying something I’ve never done before if it is hands on. This project started in March of this year with the inspiration coming from Pauly (himumimdead) and his creations for the Nikelab x Vlone event earlier this year. I knew I wouldn’t be able to easily get my hands on a pair, and seeing resell went up to $2500 a pair knew I wouldn’t be able to get them anytime soon. So as time went on decided to give it a try since I’m always doing new art projects on clothing/sneakers. I had no idea it would grow to what it is now especially in just a few months of work that I just did for the enjoyment, love and to be able to have a little money while in school.

What do you feel you bring to the customs game that sets you apart from others?

I bring passion and patience. I take my time on each pair, even though it looks like I make them every second from how many are on my Instagram and how many I’ve never even posted I really sit and work on a pair at minimal 10 hours a day. Not having a job this past summer and proving I could find a way to make this work was a little nerve racking. However, it worked to my advantage because I will sit there for hours on one painting to get it as clean & detailed as possible and without it looking to generic or like any other custom work. I incorporated many things into my work that many can not simply pick up or understand from a picture. Reading every word on the sneaker and seeing how much time is put into each painting is the closest you can get to really understanding what is going on, and how it flows around the shoe through each individual piece.

 

Why do you customize mostly Air Force 1s? Are they consumer favorites or is it like a great canvas to work on?

Since my inspiration began with Pauly I chose to do it on the Air Force 1 to keep the same look and I like how my art looks on them the most. I’m doing Vans this September but keeping them very limited because it doesn’t have the same look as the Air forces. Also since business is picking up I’ve been getting tons of orders for Air forces.

Your work always comes out looking great. Do you make any mistakes while customizing? if so how do you fix it?

When I make mistakes I use them to my advantage. I either go over it with something else, work around it or I just add it to the shoe. The customer never knows what the shoe will end up like so it has never been an issue. I know when I do my work it takes time and patience, I’m the kind of artist that doesn’t make shortcuts to get it over with. I want my customer to feel special having their personal pair and seeing what they imagined come to life and even surpass expectations.

 

You have a unique fashion sense. how would you describe your style?

I’ve built my style from my own experience in skateboarding culture. Since I only became interested in fashion and street wear my junior/senior year of high school I know I have a lot to work on to develop my style. Since my interest in fashion started with sneakers I’ve always been the type to want new sneakers almost all the time. Always having something I knew not many others rock feels good because it keeps my style unique and inspiring to others. I’m not the type to wear designer head to toe and most of the designer pieces may be big names but it’s low-key pieces I fall in love with.

 

How big of a role does social media play in helping you grow?

Lately, social media has played a huge role in helping me grow. Since I mainly use Instagram it has become my biggest platform for showcasing my work. I changed it to a business account and use the insight feature to my advantage to see what I need to work on to get more notice and likes for my work. Social media has also helped me work on finding new styles and ideas to try out. I enjoy seeing what brands or designers are up to and being inspired to work harder or think of new ideas to create. Instagram has also given me connections around the world helping me obtain opportunities, new friends and new business which is really a blessing in itself.

 

What was it like linking up with Rich The Kid? How did you get your sneakers to him?

It was an experience I really needed. Linking up I was expecting to only give him his sneakers then heading back home. When they offered me the opportunity to hang out with them for the day at video shoots, his "Damn Tour" performance and traveling around with him, Jay Critch and his crew I felt like that is something I need to work towards being apart of consistently. I didn’t feel out of place or awkward, it felt almost natural, networking with photographers, videographers and managers were things that would’ve never happened without that experience. Rich actually dm’d me about the sneakers, at first I thought it was a fake account but when I realized it was really him I was lost for words; I never sent Rich a dm about my work or wrote on his page trying to get him to rock a pair so knowing that it was out of his actual interest in them made me feel as though my work is really starting to get recognition. I know he was the first of my “big name” clients but I know he won’t be the last, and knowing this is only the beginning really gets me amped to create more and work harder.

 

 

Where do you get the influence for your designs?

My influences come from life. What I mean by this is by seeing people, going places, watching basically anything and hearing a variety of music is where I am influenced. I am for the most part, not the kind of artist to take a lot of what I create seriously or sit and draw in books for hours. Having insomnia and staying up all hours of the night is when I’m most creative. I will create a sneaker and as I’m starting I’m also watching youtube videos, listening to music, and reading lyrics from numerous albums by multiple artist that I add to the shoe to create a flow throughout the whole design. Some stuff I draw just comes to my head though, like painting Bart Simpson with a sword through his head or the head of a snake giving them deep details.

 

What’s the most significant sneaker design that you’ve worked on?

The most significant pertaining to exposure has been probably Rich the Kid’s pair or one I did with the roses that basically was meant to be looked at as Fire & Desire from the way I painted the roses and the colors I used. I say both of those because Rich the Kid is the biggest name in the music industry I’ve worked with (so far), so doing his gave me strong exposure and noticed across the world. The recent rose pair helped me receive a lot of features on streetwear pages and when I look at my impressions on Instagram those two have the most as of right now.

 

If you could collab or work with anyone, whether it being someone on the underground scene or someone well known who would it be?

Shooting for the stars the someone well known I really would enjoy collaborating with is Virgil Abloh. Virgil is one of my favorite designers and I know many people look at his brand as over hyped but for me reading his background and where he started to where he now really inspires me. Many of the people who have always inspired me to work with him or are very close with him and I would love to experience his creative process. I want to become a creative director, so if I could have any chance to work with him I will be eager to take on the challenge.

 

Is there anything you're working on now that we should look out for?

I’m starting the second installation to this project starting this fall/winter called “Sophomore Year”, to keep it within the time frame of my Sophomore year. I am working on dropping a limited run of hoodies between November-December to break away from sneakers a bit. Then next semester I am planning on dropping a few custom denim jeans as well as a variety of jackets. However, I am always thinking of new things that I feel would be interesting to create so that is not the official drop information. Just have to stay in tune with my Instagram and be ready for what will come next. No telling what I will do.


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