Exclusive: How Cult Sneaker Artist John Geiger Is Designing His Own Shoes

Sneaker designer John Geiger is releasing his first original sneakers today, and FN has the scoop on everything you need to know about them.

After gaining a cult following through his custom collaborations with Dominic “The Shoe Surgeon” Chambrone, Geiger is looking to expand his portfolio by creating a shoe from the ground up. It’s known as the 001, and Geiger says this design was intended to meld high-end fashion elements with a street-oriented sneaker inspiration. By combining premium, Italian-sourced materials with an athletic-inspired sole, he’s delivering a middle ground between the runway and the streets.

Like Geiger’s previous work, the 001 is not a mass-produced sneaker, meaning many fans may end up paying a premium resell price to get them. Here, Geiger offers an explanation for the limited production numbers, the complete release details for the 001 and his thoughts on resellers.

John Geiger 001
The 001 sneaker from the John Geiger Collection.
CREDIT: John Geiger

Footwear News: From watching your feed over the last few months, I can tell the 001 has been labor of love that you’ve put a ton of time into. What were some of the biggest challenges or obstacles you faced during its development? And on the flip side, what was the most rewarding “aha” moment?
John Geiger: One of the biggest obstacles I had during the process was the sole design. Some of the early sketches and renderings weren’t really realistic, and I had to make it functional and look pleasing. This process took over a year. But overall, it looks great to me, so it was worth it.

On the other hand, the most rewarding part of all this was bringing the idea to life, from sketch to product, and having people really enjoy it and like it. Having something I completely designed from a sketch with my name on it was very rewarding. Seeing friends and family now wearing them, and this week a lot more people will be wearing them. I’m excited.

What was your biggest inspiration for the 001?
JG: The inspiration behind the design was pretty simple: mixing high-end with sneaker-ish street feels. The materials, the look and the feel all scream high end, but the sole and the air bladder still have a sneaker feel. Mixing those two together was my goal.

John Geiger 001
The making of the John Geiger Collection 001 upper.
CREDIT: John Geiger

Can you walk me through the materials used on the 001 and how you sourced them?
JG: Everything is premium Italian-sourced materials. I wanted to step it up on the materials because I feel like that lacks right now in the footwear game. The black suede really looks good with the white soles and waxed shoelaces.

Where and when can people buy the 001?
JG: This Friday at Mrkt Deux (https://instagram.com/mrktdeux) in Los Angeles, followed by an online release on my website (johngeigerco.com) Saturday. The in-store release at Mrkt was really just me saying I want people to come out and meet me and let me tell my story directly.

Also, Julian from Mrkt is a friend of mine who is extremely underrated, so him opening the doors for me in Mrkt’s Los Angeles location was organic. I wanted people to come out, see and touch the shoes and just get an all-around feel of my vision. They’ll also see Mrkt and what they have to offer — it’s a win-win for both parties.

The event will be open to the public 5 to 8 p.m. PT, with a friends and family party from 9-11 p.m. PT. The shoes will retail at $595.

John Geiger 001
An on-foot look at the 001 sneaker from the John Geiger Collection.
CREDIT: John Geiger

Aside from the 001, what’s your favorite project you’ve done so far, and why?
JG: I would say aside from the 001, my second favorite project was the “Lux” Nike Air Force 1 Mids I released around this time last year. I think it was ahead of itself with the Margom sole on a AF1 Mid. The gold buckle and branding really set it apart from other projects I have done, and it’s a lot harder to mimic. Nike just released a similar version of an all-white AF1 with gold buckle and also called it “Lux” — what a coincidence.

Your sneakers have all sold out instantly and often resell for more than shoes such as Yeezys and Air Jordans. How does it feel to create sneakers that people chase after like that?
JG: For me, it just confirmed I really wasn’t that crazy as a designer, that other people enjoyed it. Having that connection to people is what I’m about. I want you to say, this might look crazy, but I like it. So really it was just a confirmation for myself that I was on the right path.

If you could say one thing to those people who told you “no,” what would it be?
JG: If you would have asked me this question a year ago, I would have probably said something crazy. But right now where I’m at, I’d [rather] just let all the products do the talking. They helped me; telling me “no” helped me. So I don’t have any ill feelings for anyone at this point. I’m just cruising in my own lane and just enjoying it.

John Geiger 001
The finished 001 sneaker from the John Geiger Collection.
CREDIT: John Geiger

Going back a bit, how hands-on were you in the creation of the Nike Zoom Revis for NFL star Darrelle Revis?
JG: This actually caused a bit of controversy for me because I’ve stated I had a huge part of the Zoom Revis, and the rollout. The best way to describe it is, if I were making an album and you came into the studio and said “do this” or “do that” and it was done, you were a part of it. I was compensated royalty points, so I got paid for my part. I do think that if the Zoom Revis 2 eventually came out and Darrelle stayed in NYC for that part of his career, I would have been designing a lot more pieces for the Revis line with Nike.

Do you have a favorite of the numerous unreleased Zoom Revis colorways?
JG: My favorite colorway was definitely the DJ Clark Kent [“112”] pair. I’ve always was a fan of Clark and I got a call one day from him out of the blue. He was like, “I wanna do a Zoom Revis. Nike said to call you and get the official blessing,” as you could say, and he did his thing. That story overall with the hits of the reflective 3M really made that shoe my favorite.

If the opportunity presented itself, would you be interested in working with a major brand again?
JG: If the opportunity came about and they gave me the 100 percent creative control over the project, yes. Because every time it does come about, they wouldn’t really give me control, and it’s never come to fruition. I just feel like a collab at this point would be cool, but they have to let me do what I wanna do or it’s not going to work. But yes, I would love to.

I know a lot of your shoes are limited by nature of being handmade and extremely high quality. But do you ever see yourself doing a project with wider availability in the future? Would you ever want to work on a full-scale general release shoe?
JG: I like to keep the limited and high quality and find a middle ground. As far as a larger scale, the 001 is handmade in the U.S. and is very high quality. I think I’m going to start with small numbers and build it from the ground up. It’s that thing where I want everyone who wants them to own a pair, but sometimes it’s unrealistic to produce crazy numbers with a brand new shoe. The first couple of colorways will be more limited, but hopefully I can make everyone happy.

John Geiger 001
Color selection for the John Geiger Collection 001 sneakers.
CREDIT: John Geiger
John Geiger 001
The sole of the 001 sneaker.
CREDIT: John Geiger
John Geiger 001
Racks of unfinished John Geiger Collection 001 sneakers.
CREDIT: John Geiger
John Geiger 001
Eponymous branding at the tongue of the John Geiger Collection 001.
CREDIT: John Geiger
John Geiger 001
Racks of 001 sneakers post-production.
CREDIT: John Geiger
John Geiger 001
The John Geiger Collection 001 retails for $595.
CREDIT: John Geiger

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