By Terrence Watson
For brands, social media influence is a big deal.
But at a time when more and more people are becoming well-known simply for being well-known, sneaker customizer Liz Miller's 20,000 Instagram followers come by way of her creativity.
Miller's work has garnered national attention, but perhaps her most important role is being a part of the new wave of creatives cultivating the ever-growing sneaker scene in Portland. WW talked to her about her views on the many changes happening within sneaker culture and the impact she's had on it.
WW: What are your thoughts on the sneaker culture in Portland, and do you think its influence is growing?
Liz Miller: Portland's sneaker culture is always growing. We have the DNA Show guys who create amazing YouTube videos highlighting popular sneaker-related topics, and businesses like Index PDX and Deadstock Coffee that constantly bring Portland's sneaker community together. Sneaker Week PDX was extremely successful this last fall, showcasing Portland's sneaker scene on a whole new level. We may not be as big as LA or NYC, but we're catching up slowly.
You're one of the more well-known customizers in the Pacific Northwest. Can you tell us what got you interested in creating customized sneakers?
I started drawing as soon as I learned to hold a crayon, and started collecting sneakers sophomore year of high school. About seven years ago, a college friend asked if I could replicate her back tattoo on a pair of white Nike Dunks. So I went to the store and bought some fabric sharpies. Before this, I never thought of shoes as a canvas.
The sneaker industry as a whole has been a bit of boys' club, but things are changing. What needs to happen to keep things moving in the right direction?
It's incredible knowing these heavyweight footwear brands are finally listening to us. While I love seeing products start to hit the market, I'd love to see an effort beyond just the product. Whether it's women-led collaborations or events in the community, it's important to show that this is about more than hitting sales numbers, it's about making an impact on us.
I know you're a Trail Blazers fan. If you had to pick one player to customize a shoe for between Clyde Drexler, Rasheed Wallace or Damian Lillard, who would you pick, and what shoe would you pick for them?
Damian Lillard in a pair of Jordan 4s to commemorate what is arguably the greatest shot in Trail Blazers history—when he sunk that 3-pointer against the Rockets at the buzzer, taking the Blazers into the 2014 Western Conference Semifinals. I chose the Jordan 4 because that was the shoe Michael Jordan wore when he made "The Shot" in 1989. And to be honest, I just want to see Dame in some Js.
FOLLOW: Liz Miller on Instagram: @lizmillercustoms.