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how toMonday, July 20, 2020

How To Deconstruct The Nike Air Force 1 With The Shoe Surgeon

WORDS BY STEPHEN YU

The Shoe Surgeon, aka Dominic Ciambrone, is the LA-based cobbler turned shoe creator behind some of the world’s most sought-after bespoke sneakers. In our exclusive series of video tutorials, we give you a unique insight into some of the core techniques used by the Surgeon Studios team and Dominic himself to create their 1/1 custom sneakers.

 

In episode 1, Neil Caro, the Director of Schools at Shoe Surgeon, walks us through the basics of the sneaker deconstruction process using the iconic Nike Air Force 1 Low, unveiling the key components of a shoe’s anatomy along the way. Watch the full video below and keep reading for more in-depth instructions.

 

‘The Nike AF1 is a classic shoe that brought the sports world to fashion. Its components make up some of the most crucial foundations in sneakers all over the world.’ Dominic Ciambrone aka The Shoe Surgeon

 

Watch the full video below and keep reading for more in-depth instructions.

 

FARFETCH X THE SHOE SURGEON: EPISODE 1 - THE NIKE AIR FORCE 1 DECONSTRUCTED

THE NIKE AIR FORCE 1 DECONSTRUCTED: SHOE ANATOMY 101

The uppers and the sole are the key parts of a sneaker’s construction, but each part is itself composed of several different building blocks. Usually sewn or glued together to create the finished product, it’s these pieces that you will be carefully breaking apart, patterning, and reconstructing to create your own custom sneakers, so it’s important to know your way around a shoe’s anatomy. Here’s our breakdown of each component:

 

EXTERIOR:

  1. Shoe Laces

  2. Tongue

  3. Toe Box (vamp)

  4. Toe Cap (mudguard)

  5. Lateral Quarter - outside of foot

  6. Medial Quarter - inside of foot

  7. Outer Heel Counters (x 2) 

  8. Collar - usually padded with foam or soft material for added comfort around the ankle

  9. Eyelet row

  10. Heel tab

  11. Swoosh (x2)

  12. Heel Collar (mustache)


 

SOLE:

  1. Outsole - Made from hard rubber for increased traction

  2. Midsole - Cushioned for comfort

 

INTERIOR:

  1. Toe Puff - A thin TPU material that provides structure to the front of the shoe

  2. Interior Lining - A soft mesh that covers seams for less friction

  3. Collar Foam  

  4. Internal Heel Counter - A thermoplastic that molds to the heel of the shoe for protection and support

  5. Insole - Made from soft foam for additional comfort

  6. Strobel board - Seals the upper before being attached to the sole

 

TIP: Not all sneakers are made in the same way. Think about this before you deconstruct them.

 

‘From 3D printed soles and components to complex leather pieces and minimalistic fabrics, there are many different methods of constructing a sneaker, so it’s important to recognize those differences before deconstructing them. The number of components and shape of the pattern pieces vary from shoe to shoe. For example, the Nike Flyknit Presto alongside the Adidas NMD both consist of one-piece uppers held up by a plastic ridge, whereas the Air Jordan 1 upper is made of around 23 components.’ Dominic Ciambrone

 

NIKE AIR FORCE 1 DECONSTRUCTED: BEFORE YOU BEGIN

Essential Tools:

  • Seam ripper

  • Craft knife

  • Scissors

  • Marker pen

  • Nike Air Force 1 Low or sneaker of your choice

 

TIP: Preserving the integrity and shape of each component (avoiding warping, tearing, or accidentally cutting the original pieces) can be challenging. We recommend using the seam ripper over a craft knife, as it is specifically designed for cutting stitches and seams.

 

Be Safe:

  • Use the proper tools 

  • Always point the tools away from yourself.

 

THE NIKE AIR FORCE 1 DECONSTRUCTED: PROCESS

1) REMOVE SOLE + STROBEL BOARD

 

Before you begin, remove the laces and insole from the sneakers.

 

  1. Using the seam ripper, cut the sidewall stitching that runs along the top of the sole and remove the sole completely.

  2. Turn the shoe upside down and open up the red stitches that attach the Strobel board to the uppers using a seam ripper. Once there’s enough room, use your scissors to cut the rest of the red thread. Remove the Strobel board.

  3. Now we will begin deconstructing the uppers, one component at a time.

 

2) DECONSTRUCT THE UPPERS

 

TIP: Identify the top layers (overlayers) of the shoe and remove these components first before methodically working your way down to the pieces underneath (underlayers). 

 

On the Nike Air Force 1 Low, the heel collar overlays the heel tab and Swoosh, so we will remove this first.

 

  1. Starting from the top corner, remove the stitching that runs along the bottom of the heel collar using the seam ripper.

  2. Lift the heel collar, allowing you to use a seam ripper to remove the Swoosh first, followed by the heel tab.

  3. Next, remove the stitching of the lace eyelet row and toe cap to complete the removal of all the top layers.

  4. Now, you can finally fully deconstruct the uppers by methodically removing the remaining components one by one.

 

THE NIKE AIR FORCE 1 DECONSTRUCTED: PATTERN DEVELOPMENT

Armed with some creativity and some outside-of-the-box thinking, a deconstructed sneaker provides the template you need to get creative with the luxury materials, technical fabrics, and different sole units that will bring your vision of the perfect custom sneaker to life. 

 

TIP: Use a marker pen to label your components as you take the shoe apart so you don’t mix them up.

 

1) THE EXTERIOR:

‘Each component can be traced onto paper or thick card stock to create a pattern to use for cutting materials and reconstructing a new custom pair from scratch,’ explains Shoe Surgeon Dominic Ciambrone

 

2) THE INTERIOR:

‘While you wouldn’t usually customize the interior of a deconstructed shoe, you can use the deconstructed interior pieces to create patterns. These patterns can be used with new materials to make customized interiors for a reconstructed shoe.’

 

3) RECONSTRUCTION

‘Sneaker reconstruction is an intricate process. You’ll need a pattern, last, materials, and shoemaking tools. We teach this process from A - Z in our four-day shoemaking classes.’

 

 

Stay tuned for episode two of our six-part video series with The Shoe Surgeon where the Surgeon Studios team will teach you how to customize your sneakers with paint. Dropping soon...

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