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Bailey Labs
Leading The Custom Shoe Movement

Bailey Labs is a custom shoe designer based out of San Diego that's creating some of the cleanest custom shoes in the game. We spoke with Bailey about his experience customizing his first pair of Air Force 1's in 2017 to now being one of the biggest names in the custom shoe movement. In addition, we also spoke with Bailey about his upcoming clothing collection at the end of the year, the inspiration behind some of his concepts, and his plans to continue building his platform to where he can inspire the next generation and create opportunities for others.

Where are you from?

Bailey: I’m from San Diego.

When did you designing custom shoes?

Bailey: I started in 2017 by making my own handmade stuff.

Has it always been under the name Bailey?

Bailey: Yeah it’s always been my name.

What made you want to start making custom shoes?

Bailey: It’s always been my favorite way to express my art. Before I started selling them I was always making my own custom shoes. Eventually it got to the point where other people wanted them so I decided to expand.

How did you get started?

Bailey: I took a pair of my old Air Force 1’s and went at it. At first I just worked with whatever paint I could find. There wasn’t any real speciality to it, I was just having fun.

Were you always interested in sneakers growing up?

Bailey: Absolutely. I’ve been very knowledgeable about the whole sneaker culture for a long time now. It’s been really cool to see the progression and growth of everything.

How did you come up with the idea for the skull & crossbone AF1’s you recently showed?

Bailey: I was approached by @ajtracey and he asked me to make a purple pair that I’d done before. I went and bought the dye for the shoe but it ended up turning out blue. I told him what happened and he wanted me to just run with it, so I decided to wrap them with crossbones. There wasn’t any real inspiration behind them but they turned out great.

What does your creative process look like when designing a custom shoe?

Bailey: It’s weird, initially I was really inspired by the sneakers that Pharrell made. Pharrell had this color wheel of 50 different shoes that he made with Adidas called the “Supercolor” pack. I still picture that concept in my head and just go down the color wheel and pick a new color to work with. Pharrell really inspired me to the point where I wanted to pursue my own vision.

What was the inspiration behind your midnight purple butterfly AF1’s?

Bailey: I really wanted to make a purple pair to differentiate myself since I thought a lot of my butterflies at the time were looking the same. That was the pair that @ajtracey wanted but he ended up getting the blue crossbones.

How do you get connected with music artists?

Bailey: I’ll have certain designs that circulate somewhere where lots of people see them. Eventually they get seen by artists and they’ll usually just reach out to me and I ask what they want and in what size. The challenge is getting the attention of bigger artists that aren’t in their DM’s all the time.

Do you usually only make one pair of each concept?

Bailey: When I started everything was just 1/1. A lot of the ones that I preview for clients are 1/1, I’m always trying to keep everything limited.

It seems like a lot of your shoes feature a signature “butterfly effect” design. What appeals to you about using butterflies?

Bailey: I love the brand Felt and I really like their all-over butterfly print that they had way back in the day. I wanted to take that concept and put it on shoes, but I really just like butterflies in general.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

Bailey: There are so many different things. I follow the custom sneaker community closely so I’m always seeing what my friends are doing and following trends while adding my own flare to it.

How did you come up with the idea for the “Retribution” AF1’s?

Bailey: That’s actually a collaboration that’s dropping with the brand @retribution.co. The guy who owns it is @twinuzis, he’s an artist that’s starting to come up with clothing and other stuff. For the collaboration we took their logo and wrapped it on the side of Air Force 1’s. We’re taking orders for those soon so it’ll be dropping in the near future.

Do you customize all your shoes by hand?

Bailey: Yeah everything is by hand.

Are you planning on releasing a higher quantity shoe that’s manufactured?

Bailey: Yeah that’s definitely the plan. I’m really working on getting into clothes too. That’s the immediate vision in the next few years, I want to break into streetwear.

Do you eventually want to work with other fashion garments and accessories besides shoes?

Bailey: Absolutely. I’ve already started making hoodies and I have my first cargo zip pants being prototyped so those are coming soon. I really want to enter streetwear and differentiate myself. Eventually I want to make every article of clothing.

What is The Custom Movement and what made you want to start working with them?

Bailey: @thecustommovement is a page based in San Francisco and the guy who runs it is a big believer in custom sneakers and promoting the artists who make them. He believes they’re eventually going to be what everybody wants rather than going out and buying something at the mall. He does a great job of spotlighting all of us, he’s a great guy.

Are there any other shoe models you want to work on besides Air Force’s?

Bailey: I recently got into DTG printing so I'm going to start printing on Converse. Expect to see lots of Converse coming out soon.

Are there any other brands or designers you want to collaborate with?

Bailey: There’s so many that I want to work with. I have a lot of cool collabs in the works but I don’t want to speak on them yet. I’ve gotten close with a lot of different people that I want to work with.

Where do you see the custom shoe movement going in the next few years?

Bailey: I just see everybody buying custom shoes at a growing rate rather than walking into Foot Locker. Instagram is becoming an amazing tool for brands to grow and sell their work so I see it being huge.

What should we expect to see from you next?

Bailey: I’m just going to continue dropping shoes. The biggest thing we’re working on is revamping our website. We’re gonna roll out a completely new website here soon with a chance to buy new colorways. But the big hope is to have our first clothing collection done before the end of the year.

What is that clothing collection going to feature?

Bailey: Mainly T-shirts, hoodies and sweatpants to start.

What do you want to be known for?

Bailey: At the end of the day I want to be someone that inspires people. I hope to grow into someone that can directly inspire others and help them grow. I want to eventually build a big enough platform and enough knowledge to offer lots of opportunities to others.

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