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You know what they say about big feet, right? Big shoes. So massive, in fact, that one factory has had to completely overhaul its equipment in order to accommodate the famous NBA clients of Los Angeles-based brand Daniel Patrick.
Patrick has made custom outerwear for NBA superstars like Sacramento Kings’ DeMarcus Cousins and Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant, and last year, he debuted footwear. The shoes caught the attention of Minnesota Timberwolves phenom Karl-Anthony Towns and Detroit Pistons center Boban Marjanovic, both of whom came calling for the footwear in awfully large sizes. Instead of saying no, Patrick says, “I was like, let me see if that size is even possible.”
His factory couldn’t really give him a straight answer. “First, we thought we were going to go to another factory to sew some parts of the shoe, but then they decided to just upgrade their machinery so that the shoes could fit down the track,” Patrick says.
Towns wears a size 21 — a shoe big enough to legally drink in the US — and while Patrick says the brand initially considered just making the kicks entirely by hand, the factory just went ahead and bought new equipment. First, the factory had to engineer a special plate on which to sit the absurdly large shoes so that the soles could be affixed to the upper (the top half of the shoe; the part that isn’t the sole). Then it had to add extensions to the machine just to get these monstrosities through the opening. The factory also had to create custom toe puffs and heel counters — pieces that hold the shape of the shoe at the heel and toe. More leather is also required to create these clodhoppers, bumping up the price. I ask Patrick if the kicks need chunkier, longer shoelaces: “No, we already have a long shoelace.”
Fair enough. All of this resulted in a shoe so big that it didn’t even fit in the normal boxes, so those had to be upgraded, too.
It’s a whole lot of trouble to go through for what Patrick calls just a niche part of his business, but entirely worth it for the lifelong NBA fan (he loves Michael Jordan in particular). The factory is similarly motivated by the star power to make all the upgrades necessary to fulfill the orders.
“I don't know if they exactly know who the players are, but they're definitely excited to see celebrities wearing it, athletes wearing it,” Patrick says. “That helps their enthusiasm to change their machinery around.”
NBA stars, who have arguably the best style of any athletes but also need pretty extreme sizes, often turn to custom designs. Patrick says he frequently gets texts from players’ stylists asking him to make the designs he posts on his Instagram. That process is simpler: add an inch — or 11 — to a sleeve, and scale everything else to fit.
Finding shoes to fit a player is apparently a very different hurdle.