Anyone who has ever looked at a sneaker blog is sure to have seen the work of my latest Five Questions guest, Jake Danklefs. Through his company, Dank & Co., Jake produces 1-of-1 custom shoes for select clients that include professional athletes and celebrities. Often taking a theme from another shoe or from sports and cultural references, Jake works with his clients to establish the overall look of the piece before starting his work on the blank canvas of an existing sneaker. His work is so meticulous and in demand that wait times can be as long as nine months – a timeframe customers are more than happy to wait for his art. I’ve met Jake on several occasions and always enjoy catching up and talking sneakers and life in general. While is talent is indisputable, it is his friendly and approachable personality that I have always appreciated. We thank Jake for his time and hope you enjoy his insights into sneaker culture.
1. We all have that one moment or pair that was an “aha!” moment in sneakers. What was yours and how would you describe it?
I was young. Maybe too young to remember. I remember being 4 and 5 years old sending designs to Nike through the mail. I think for me the “aha!” moment was maybe when the Atlantic Blue Penny 2 came out. Being 11 years old, falling in love with that shoe. Owning 2 pairs in one year – I mean it was huge to me.
2. If you had to choose only one sneaker to have- currently in your collection or not – what would it be and why?
Ok yeah! haha even though my favorite sneaker is the Penny 2, my go to favorite shoe to wear right now is the adidas NMD, specifically the Nice Kicks NMD. I’m showing my age, because at this point, it’s truly all about comfort.
3. Who or what is your biggest and best design inspiration?
Hands down biggest inspirations growing up were my brother and my Mom. Both artists in their own right, they heavily influenced me. But as I got older and came into my own I found inspiration in other people like Chip Foose and Jesse James and most recently Aaron Kaufman. All car/motorcycle builders oddly enough, but I see so many correlations in how they view transportation design and how I view footwear.
4. Hypebeasts. Resellers. Sponsored posts. Influencers. Doing it for the Gram. What is your take on the current state of sneakers and social media?
As for resellers: pay the bills, do what you do. Sucks when I am looking for things but if I can’t find my ways to get it before resellers do that just means they want their money more than I want the sneakers and I’ll end up paying for it in the end. I don’t mind resellers much though because I did my share of picking up shoes years and years before there were resellers. I may pick up 5 releases and maybe 10 vintage pieces in a year’s time, so don’t cross paths with “resellers and hypebeasts” much. Can’t knock their hustle. Now the sponsored posts, influencer, gram biz I think it’s great if you actually have a talent or if you are actually doing something better for the community. If you are doing what you are doing, collecting shoes, posting pics of your shoes, etc. purely for followers to pad your ego, I have to just shake my head and walk away. I consider myself an influencer so yeah I support it (lol).
5. In 30 years, people in the sneaker world will look back and say Jake Danklefs was….?
….the guy that made a shoe for LeBron….. I get it yeah, he’s probably the most famous person I have made shoes for but if you are reading this and all you knew about me prior to reading this was that I did a shoe for Bron, please go and google image search DANK CUSTOMS. Sit back and scroll through some shit that will blow your mind.