How One Man Hopes His Replica Crochet Shoes Will End Sneaker Violence

Cozy with a cause.

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 become 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 went straight to building their own pairs.

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

It’s not just about showing off, though. Fuggit creator Richard Riley, who is based in the Washington D.C. 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 things.

“My cousin Mike, we used to exchange sneakers back and forth throughout our whole life,” Riley said. “About two years ago, before Thanksgiving, he was murdered in Maryland. It was fucked up. 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.

His interest in crochet began during the part of his youth spent in Jamaica, where Riley saw his mother and grandmother as master knitters. The murder of his cousin a couple of years ago prompted him to finally say “fuck it” and pursue the idea of knitted sneakers, hence the company’s name. 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 pairs per day. 

Eventually, Riley hopes to turn Fuggit into a charitable project. “[The plan is to] make the shoes, sell them, and take proceeds from that and buy sneakers to give away,” he said. “No gimmicks, no raffles, no nothing.” 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 Bakin and the Air Raid into crochet takedowns. Introducing more durable materials to the soles, in order to make his designs more fitting for wear outside the house, is also in the plans.

While the shoes make obvious references to popular designs, the founder isn’t worried about any legal copyright issues. None of the designs have any branding, and the official item names on Fuggit’s site make no mention of the inspirations. What’s more, Riley got some legal counsel to make sure that he wasn’t overstepping any boundaries with his designs. The materials, in particular, set the designs apart.

“It’s crochet and it’s hand made, so it’s created with different patterns than a composite sneaker that might be leather and nylons that stick together,” Riley said. “As far as the legal ramifications behind that, we’re not worried because it’s a totally different product.”

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.”

Riley’s creations can be found at Fuggit’s webstore.

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Company Name: Fuggit
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Country: United States