When I heard about the bespoke sneakers they make at No. One, I didn’t know precisely what to expect. I’ve seen shoes being made before, even know a thing or two about them, but this was a different level. We’re talking about craft and care that seems like it comes straight out of the 1800s. Five people in a room, all working to make a sneaker that won’t just be worn, but loved.
This is about the shoe as an artistic statement. It’s also not easy.
“So many kids come in and say, ‘I want to be a shoe designer — internet fame and Kanye checks!‘” Mark Gainor, lead creative at No. One told me. “I kind of talk them out of it. Being a shoe designer and shoe craftsman couldn’t be further apart.”
Gainor worked with Jon Buscemi at Gourmet, before starting No. One, and his brand carries the same vibe of exclusivity paired with an even deeper emphasis on craft. The experience at the brand’s Venice Beach HQ is mostly bespoke — with no real showroom to speak of. The windows facing Lincoln Boulevard are frosted, and lettering on the door reads “By appointment only.” If you’re buying No. One shoes, you know why you’re there.