Following the release of the Louis Vuitton Archlight, Kiko Kostadinov and Asics’ collaborative Gel Burz, the Balenciaga Track, and countless other contenders, it may seem that, in the year of our Lord 2018, we’ve hit peak ugly sneaker. Given the trend seems to be going nowhere, though, and as we wait in anticipation for the next absolute unit to drop, the question on our lips is: where do we go from here? Step in Michael Cutini.
The Milan-based footwear designer is making a name for himself with his unique sneaker hybrids, which see him splice Air Max with Air Force 1s, Ozweegos and Triple S, and LV with Gucci, Prada, and Chanel to create the ultimate, boss-level kicks.
“I started my Instagram a year ago, when I was working for a well-known label but in a totally unproductive position – so I decided to start creating these mash-ups to attract attention from other brands,” explains Cutini. It worked. Soon after, he was approached by Italian label Santoni, where he now works as a junior sneaker designer.
And while his designs started out as a concept made using Photoshop, they’ve recently begun manifesting IRL. “I usually get sneakers from friends, or buy them in shops and literally destroy them before I start reworking,” he says of his process. “Luckily I live near a shoemaking district so I can do some of the process in the factory close to my house.”
When it comes to where he finds inspiration, Cutini explains that he’s always on the look-out everywhere he goes. “I take inspiration from the streets. I look at the styles people wear and I imagine combining the best aspects of their favourite sneakers. But my favourite ones to re-work are anything from Raf Simons’ project with adidas. The Ozweego and the Detroit Runner are the best crazy ugly sneakers of all time.”
Perhaps surprisingly, Cutini’s taste is slightly more minimal than his Instagram would have you believe, though. “I love the Air Max 1, because it’s just so timeless,” he says. “I would love to collaborate with Nike at some point.” Who would he want to see wearing them? “Kanye West, probably. Or my mum.”