A sneaker designer is making $1,200 custom shoes ... for horses
- Sneakerhead Marcus Floyd, 39, has been designing shoes since 2018.
- In 2022, the tourist site Visit Lex reached out to Floyd to design those same sneakers for horses.
At a recent auction in Lexington, Kentucky, four individual sneakers inspired by Nike and Yeezy designs were sold for charity for an undisclosed amount.
The shoes weren't made to be worn by people, though. They were designed for horses.
Horse Kicks — a website bringing awareness to equestrian sports in Lexington — sought out 39-year-old sneakerhead Marcus Floyd to design the shoes, which were later auctioned off for charity last month at the annual Sneaker Ball Lex: A KOTD Affair. The proceeds were donated to local Lexington charities that support minority communities in Kentucky, according to the event's website.
"Their big pitch was that if Lebron James could have a shoe then why not 'insert-any-horse's-name,'" Floyd told Insider.
Floyd — a Lexington native who currently works as a maintenance team leader at Toyota full-time — didn't have much experience in the realm, but he said he was willing to give it a shot.
To create the initial horse sneakers Floyd made, he deconstructed Adidas Yeezy 350s, Nike Air Jordans, and New Balances to then reconstruct them to fit a horse's hoof. The process, for all three pairs, took anywhere from 12 to 16 hours.
"I was able to deconstruct shoes that were already made so that I could use the leather and everything to construct the horse kicks," Floyd said. Essentially, he took apart the original sneakers, stitch by stitch. From there, Floyd was able to reconstruct a shoe on top of a horse boot model.
Floyd is now designing custom horseshoes from scratch and hopes to make it his full-time job
The reconstruction and deconstruction process is tedious, and Floyd learned how to do it by attending the Shoe Surgeon's SRGN Academy in Los Angeles in 2020. Floyd is planning on designing all his custom shoes from scratch.
"Now that I won't be doing any more branded shoes from established sneaker companies, it will just be me putting my own brand on it, so I'll go back and adjust the price accordingly for that," Floyd said of the horseshoes, which are currently on the market starting at $1,200 per pair and can be ordered via the Horse Kicks website. "It will make it cheaper, but people still have to understand that this is a 100% custom, one-of-one product."
Floyd says he enjoys customizing sneakers for every customer, human or horse, that comes his way and though he still works at Toyota full-time, sneakers are where his true passion lies.
"I'm putting full-time hours in a part-time space," he told Insider. "I would love to just solely do it, but I'm still trying to figure out what that looks like. I need to make sure it's feasible for me and my family."
Before designing the shoes, Floyd had 'zero contact' with horses
For Floyd, the world of equestrian sneakers is still a largely untapped market — one that he hopes to dominate despite never having experience with horses before designing the shoes.
"I've had zero contact with horses up until now, this is the most that I've ever been around and dealt with horses," Floyd told Insider. The designer is still based out of Lexington, and though he's been surrounded by horse farms his whole life, reconstructing sneakers for horses was his introduction to the sport.
"One thing that's really opened my eyes with this project is that culturally there are a lot of African Americans that ride horses and I didn't realize that until this project. There is a huge culture for horses in the African American community but in Lexington, that's just not something that we see," Floyd said.
Compton Cowboys, a community collection that aims to introduce kids in Compton youth to horses and horseriding, is known for their role in changing the image of what an equestrian looks like. Floyd said the organization reached out to praise him for the work he's doing in the field.
This mission is important to Floyd. In Lexington, Floyd is also working with the nonprofit Frankie's Corner Little Thoroughbred Corner, an organization that aims to connect underserved communities to equestrian sports founded by Jermo Reese.
"He reached out to me as another minority and said: 'Hey, it is kinda hard for us in this space,'" Floyd recounted, adding that Reese offered up the horses from Frankie's Corner to test Floyd's prototypes for the sneakers he's designing next.
In terms of equestrian sneaker design, Floyd feels he has a lot more to offer the space. "Right now the world has only seen half of what I feel like I could give them ... I gotta get to the point where that's all I'm doing, is creating," Floyd said.
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