The New Chef Status Symbol: Custom-Branded Sneakers

Top chefs are cooking up fresh sneaker collabs with hot brands

Chef Dominique Ansel's Koio Avalanche sneakers. (Koio)
Chef Dominique Ansel's Koio Avalanche sneakers. (Koio)

Instead of advertising their culinary prowess with traditional branded items such as hoodies, hats and T-shirts, an increasing number of top chefs are cooking up cool collaborations with hot sneaker brands.

Take recently-crowned World’s Best Pastry Chef Dominique Ansel for example.

The owner of Dominique Ansel Bakery & Kitchen and Koio have come up with a limited-edition pair of Avalanche kicks which are inspired by the basic ingredients of a classic croissant: flour, sugar, eggs, and butter. Priced at $350, each pair comes with a packet of Dominique Ansel pancake mix.

Michael “Mikey” Cole, who runs NYC ice cream shop Mikey Likes It, has collaborated with Ewing Athletics on two pairs of $150 sneakers of his own.

“It’s a way we make a statement. We’re in uniform, and it’s the one thing you can wear that can go under the radar,” he explained to Grub Street. “Like, you wear black-on-black Jordans or Yeezys, no one notices, but some kid might be like, ‘Oh my God, mom, look at those sneakers.’ That’s our only way of being fresh.”

In the past, MOZO Shoes collaborated with chefs on a line of $70 shoes designed for standing up to do kitchen work and other brands like Nike and Vans have worked with chefs to cook up signature shoes. In 2016, the Brooklyn spot, Sweet Chick, teamed up with Fila to create a pair of sneakers influenced by chicken and waffles.

“More than anything, custom sneakers are about status,” according to Chris Crowley Grub Street. “Any restaurant can sell its own shirt, but a sneaker establishes credibility, because it means you’re a big enough deal to actually work with the likes of Nike or Adidas.”

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