Custom cycling shoes that will make you swoon
If you’ve ever scrolled through the Instagram ‘Discover’ page and you follow a lot of cycling accounts, you’ve probably come across custom-painted cycling shoes at some point. And if you have, you’ve almost certainly see the fine work of Caitlin Fielder.
It all started as a birthday present for Caitlin’s boyfriend, Jumbo-Visma rider George Bennett. Caitlin had a background in art and had started a business painting dog portraits. That first pair of shoes for George took over 30 hours to paint with paint pens. George took them to the Tour de France where they caught a lot of attention but Caitlin hadn’t figured out the technique yet and the design came off before the first rest day. When she went to visit George at the Tour she spent the day re-painting his shoes.
After the attention at the Tour, Caitlin started to get Instagram messages from people who wanted their own custom shoes. She figured out a technique that lasted and has been painting shoes ever since. (And yes, she will still do dog portraits if that’s what you’re after.)
So how does she paint the shoes? It all starts with the preparation. Creating a proper canvas is key for the paint to stick. She starts by cleaning the shoes thoroughly and removing any of the shiny surfaces included by the shoe manufacturer. Before the painting process can begin Caitlin mocks up the general idea on her computer and overlays it on the shoe, so she knows how to bend and morph the design to fit the shoe. Paint is applied in thin layers so the shoe will still be able to flex under watts and so the paint won’t chip.
One pair of shoes takes 7-30 hours to paint, depending on the design requested.
Now, if you haven’t already gone to Instagram to check out Caitlin’s work (which you should absolutely do), here are a few of the shoes she’s painted. They range from shoes for clients, to shoes for the pros, to shoes commissioned by races like the Giro d’Italia. As you can see, her attention to detail is incredible. You can find more information at Caitlin’s website.