Custom sneakers have existed in some form or another for decades now. Ever since the one-upmanship of having a pair that nobody else had became a priority, people have been adding colors and graphics to their footwear to help them stand out. The game has evolved in recent years. Some have skipped making customs and gone straight to building their own pairs.

Enter Fuggit, a project that creates crochet versions of classic sneakers.

It's not just about showing off. Fuggit creator Richard Riley, who is based in the Gaithersburg, Maryland area, hopes that he can use his shoes to spread a message. The founder was inspired to start the project after seeing a family member murdered over material.

"My cousin Mike and I used to exchange sneakers back and forth in college," Riley said. "About two years ago, before Thanksgiving, he was murdered in Maryland. Words can't describe the pain we all felt. So the first pair that I made, I wanted to pay homage to Mike. I replicated the Allen Iverson Questions in homage to him."

Riley explained that the Question was one of the shoes he had exchanged with his cousin over the years. From there, he focused on models often involved in sneaker crimes — like the Jordan 11 or the Nike Air Foamposite One. He rattles off names of people murdered over their sneakers, like Jordan Woods and Jose Mendoza, as inspirations for his crochet designs.

Photo: Fuggit

The murder of his cousin a couple of years ago prompted him to finally say "fuck it" and pursue the idea of raising awareness on a social issue that he was inspired to address. Now he's recruited a team of 12 artists to help him execute the designs. Riley says that he and his team can produce up to three pairs of the intricately knitted designs per day.

Eventually, Riley hopes to turn Fuggit into a full time company. "[The plan is to] make the shoes, sell them and take proceeds from that and give back to communities affected by material violence, as well as build the brand," he said. The aim for Riley seems to be to defuse some of the coveted and limited status of popular designs that are clearly linked to the violent crimes.

Riley also mentioned hopes of eventually turning Nike Basketball classics like the Air Mag and the Air Yeezy into crochet takedowns. Also in the plan is to introduce more durable materials to the soles, in order to make his designs more fitting for wear outside the house.

For now, Fuggit isn't a full time gig for Riley. He's still splitting the time between the shoes and his day job as a security guard. He does make time to travel to sneaker shows in the area to get the word out. He hopes that one day he can gain the recognition of the big sneaker brands and show them that his product is able to touch on a subject that they aren't able to — sneaker violence.

Riley said that his end game is to achieve something like what entrepreneur Daymond John did with Fubu. "He said he wanted to do it for the culture of hip-hop and the culture that he lived in," Riley said. "That's kind of what I'm doing with Fuggit; trying to align myself with the culture of hip-hop and the culture of sneakers."

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