Announcing the newest designer at Barneys New York’s Madison Avenue flagship store: You! On the fifth floor of our uptown store stands a brushed metal kiosk equipped with a touch screen that allows adventurous shoppers to create the luxury sneakers of their dreams—it’s a virtual design studio right at your fingertips. Dubbed CUSTOMISE 360, this service comes from SWEAR London, the coveted men’s and women’s footwear label.
Officially launched in 1997 by Jose Neves and Jorge Sampaio, SWEAR London’s initial focus was on footwear that fused elements of sneakers and dress shoes. One of its most popular first styles was a pointed brogue with a sneaker sole, dubbed the Dean after James Dean, whose irreverent attitude inspired the silhouette. The brand quickly caught on in the rock music scene, and the label instantly became synonymous with counterculture and individuality. As SWEAR London rep Mario Muttenthaler puts it, “The brand has always been about self-expression and personal style.”
In the years since its launch, SWEAR London has moved into the truly custom-made space, allowing hardcore sneaker aficionados to take the creative reins in building their own shoes. As part of an innovative approach, the label is offering its customizing services at Barneys for the first time. Here’s how it works:
Start from Scratch
Using the touch screen, choose from a range of styles—high-tops, low-tops, lace-ups, or slip-ons—and begin customizing each area of the shoe with different materials and colors. A 3-D model updates your selections in real time. Choose from supple nappa leather, suede, or calf hair, or exotics like crocodile, python, or ostrich. Next, pick out your favorite colors for lining, metallic hardware, rubber sole, and laces. Finally, top off your design with two monogram initial metal studs at the tongue—in a metallic shade of your choosing—and select your gender and size before you check out. Your design will be brought to life by artisans in Portugal, who make the shoes by hand in about four weeks, and after that they’ll be shipped right to your door.
The Shortcut Approach
For those seeking a little inspiration and guidance, there are two alternatives: Instead of starting with a blank canvas, choose from SWEAR London’s pre-packaged themes, which range from Exotics to Space Age, as a base for your personalized design. From there, customize your shoes exactly as you would in the Start from Scratch option. Or, scroll through designs from curators like hip-hop star Will.i.am or sneakerhead Ginney Noa. Buy their creations as is, or alter here and there to make their shoes your own. Every six weeks, a new style influencer will add fresh designs to the collection of dream sneakers.
In addition to the made-to-order CUSTOMISE 360 shoes, the Madison Avenue flagship stocks an assortment of pre-designed styles that come with an extra set of laces and personalized metal studs (choose from a selection of letters or emojis), that are affixed in-store, so you can take the shoes home that day.
Also available in-store and online: four XO Exclusively Ours styles, including two slip-ons and two lace-ups, each with can’t-find-anywhere-else combinations of colors and materials like black suede with tan ostrich or camo calf hair with pink nappa leather.