A sole swap is probably one of the most common types of sneaker customization – though both the motivation and execution vary wildly. Especially vintage heads and avid wearers of classic runners and other types of performance shoes will run into the issue sooner or later: many of these models use Polyurethan (or PU) for their midsole sections. While this material was cushy and flexible 20 years ago, it will dry out due to hydrolysis during the years. And that’s the reason for cracking and crumbling soles on these vintage bangers – making a restoration with a new donor sole the only option to keep rocking the silhouette.
But that’s not the only reason people have for swapping out soles. Customizations can often add a new perspective into well-known and -liked models or simply show what a collab between two brands (that would most likely never go down in reality) could look like. We did a deep dive into the world of sneaker sole swaps to present you some serious hybrid heat.
Title image by @lucasblackman
Ronnie meets Yeezy
Dominic Chambrone a.k.a. The Shoe Surgeon is one of the biggest names when it comes to getting creative with a pair of kicks. His projects do not only contain elaborate upper material altercations, but also a few interesting bottom works. During the time when everyone went crazy with adidas Yeezy customs, The Shoe Surgeon took a rather unusual approach and put the upper of Ronnie Fieg’s “Mint” GEL-LYTE III on a Yeezy BOOST 750 sole unit.
The Epitome of BOOST
Another really kind of out-there hybrid was cooked up by Jake Danklefs a.k.a. Dank Customs. Using the upper tooling of Epitome’s amazing “Righteous One” Saucony Collab, Dank replaced the Shadow Master sole with a speckled BOOST unit.
Randy the Cobbler is not just a nickname, but a job title to live up to. Putting his craft into effect, Randy Lucas blends footwear styles by applying anything from Air to BOOST soles onto sophisticated moc uppers. We also did an exclusive interview with the man himself back in 2016, where Randy gave us a few insights into his work. His high quality sole swap works are definitely ones that stand out from the crowd.
The Viotech 93
When a rare pair like 2003’s atmos x Nike Air Max 1 B collab is in need for a sole swap, you better don’t come with some mediocre donor soles. Rather take Lucas Blackman as an example who rocks an insane “Viotech 93” hybrid with the tires from another golden era Air Max model mounted on his atmos 1 Bs.
Time for a New Challenge
Yet another AM1 hybrid comes courtesy of customizer We Are Them and eysaac_campos. Crossing over different performance worlds, the worn-down Air Max 1 “Safari” meets the Tech Challenge III sole – which turns out to be an amazing combination. No wonder even Kanye went a similar route when he incorporated the Tech Challenge II sole into the Air Yeezy II design.
95 Til Infinity
Pics of crumbling Air Max 95s are a common sight on Instagram feeds and they still break our hearts every time we have to face them. Luckily, RetroSnickers took it upon himself to revamp the wasted AM 95 OG “Neon” colorway with some top notch Nike tech by placing the VaporMax bubble sole underneath the upper. With the classic silhouette mixed in, the finished shoe is a perfect trade-off for those who still can’t get down with the futuristic VaporMax design.
May the Force Be with 2
It’s no secret that the Air Jordan 2 isn’t the most popular model from the Jumpman line – so it might be a good idea to build on a solid courtside foundation and swap the original bottom part with the Air Force 1‘s distinctive cupsole. Maybe the AJ2 would have gotten more love if Nike went with this hybrid as the original design.