Billy Chow has combined his passion for painting and sneakers to set up Velvethoop Customs which is a custom sneaker service operating out of Singapore. We recently chatted to Billy about how he got into the game, his design process, and what’s next for Velvethoop Customs.
If you’re interested in Billy’s work make sure you shoot him a follow on Facebook and Instagram, and check out his website where you can hit him up for your own custom set of sneakers!
Before you started customising sneakers were you interested in art/painting? What did you enjoy working on back then?
I started out painting Gundam model kits. I’ve always enjoyed working with paint and creating new colour combinations.
How did you transition from working on model kits to customising sneakers and what inspired you to start Velvethoop Customs?
I’ve always loved collecting sneakers. I also loved freestyle customizing my own sneakers with black sharpies just to make them unique in my own way. Soon after that I learnt the proper way to customize sneakers with the proper materials and everything just took off from there.
Tell us about the typical design and production process. How much information do clients generally give you?
Clients usually send me a specific print and the base sneaker they want to customize or they give me a theme they want for the design and let me freestyle from there.
Do you provide mock-ups or do clients generally give you free reign with the design?
I’ll meet up with my clients and just discuss the specific design and details they want on the customization. I don’t do mock ups due to the time constraint.
How much does the material or style of the shoe influence the design?
Material wise, the texture of mesh material with huge ‘netting’ like some of the Adidas NMDs will affect the design as the prints painted on it won’t be as visible as prints done on materials like leather.
What tools and paints do you use to create your designs?
I use Angelus paint and their dye selection. Their paints are more flexible which makes them more suitable for sneakers.
On average how long does it take you to produce a set of customs from start to finish?
The whole process from preparing the sneaker for the paint job to the painting and finishing of the sneaker takes one to two days. The most complicated sneakers took me five days to complete!
How do you stay creative and what inspires you now?
I draw inspiration from different themes or just the shape and silhouette of the sneakers. For the Adidas NMD Galaxy customs I drew inspiration from the futuristic and out of this world design of the NMDs.
What are your favourite set of customs and what sets them apart from the others?
My favorite so far are the Adidas NMD x ‘KAWS’ customs and also the Air Jordan 11 Low ‘Marble’ customs. Just love the combination of the Marble print and the 11s silhouette.
Is there a sneaker/design combination that you really want to produce but haven’t had the chance to do so yet?
I’ve always wanted to do a Joker themed set but haven’t really had the time to do so. I have several cool ideas that I haven’t executed yet, I’ll definitely find time for these so stay tuned!
How important has social media been for expanding the reach of Velvethoop Customs?
It has definitely been key to sharing my artwork and interacting with my clients. Social media has also helped in a major way to reach people even if they have not been following Velvethoop Customs.
What is your long-term plan for Velvethoop Customs?
I’ll be looking to release a series of limited pairs of exclusive design custom sneakers in the future. So once the series is sold, the design won’t be released again.
What is the best way for our readers to contact you about customising their own sneakers? Are there ready-made kicks that readers can cop?
Yep! There’s ready-made custom kicks on my website but those are only available in one size so try your luck there! Otherwise anyone can drop me a message via my website or just private message me on Instagram if they’re interested in coming up with their own design!
Say I want to whip out the paint set and customise my own kicks. What advice would you have for me before I get started?
Preparation on the sneakers before the paint job is the most crucial part of customizing your kicks. If it’s not done well, the paint job won’t last on your sneakers! Definitely do your own research before working on your kicks to find the right paint for the right material and so on. You don’t wanna ruin your kicks!