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Clessio Lab: When sneakers become works of art

Davide and Luca Paoli, the brothers who turn shoes into custom masterpieces for VIPs and enthusiasts, from online success to shoe art academy 3.0.

clessio | sneakers

From an idea to a successful business

Also known as Clessio, Davide Paoli creates and customizes sneakers for VIPs and famous sportsmen. He defines himself as a craftsman but also an entrepreneur, who owns the talent to make shoes into works of art.

The project started from an idea shared with his brother Luca Paoli, initially with the simple purpose of having fun, then became a real business. Luca has taken over the administrative management, while Davide takes care of the more artistic part. 2018 is the official year in which the Clessio Lab project was born, which takes its name from a comic strip that the artist drew as a child.

Craftsmanship, design and marketing: today the two brothers make customized shoes on commission following the requests of their famous and infamous customers, at their workshop located in Matera, Italy.

Davide’s creative journey

From pop culture, to Van Gogh’s paintings, to Japanese anime. Davide’s sources of inspiration are countless, but there is one that the artist is particularly fond of: @theshoesurgeon, a collective of creatives based in Los Angeles.

Dominic Ciambrone, aka The Shoe Surgeon, has always had a passion for creating, for unleashing his creativity and has managed to turn it into a successful business. Through the customization of shoes, he was able to express his individuality, to the point that today he is teaching it to aspiring artists and creatives at the SRGN Academy.

And this is where Davide took his cue to give life to his project, pushed, however, by his brother Luca, the true shoe enthusiast between the two of them. He originally started an online reselling business, and then turned it into today’s project thanks to Davide’s participation.

Clessio’s talent also comes from the studies undertaken over the years. He took a drawing and shoemaking course in Florence, learning how to use the sewing machine. He often makes a point of mentioning his master shoemaker Matteo Caparrini of Le Village Sneakers, who makes high-quality shoes, paying homage to the Italian footwear craftsmanship tradition.

Raised in a family-run business, Matteo Caparrini has always been passionate about the craft, from design to realization. After years of learning, he set out on his own in 2015. To date, he works one-to-one with his customers, creating unique handmade, made-to-measure pieces that fully reflect the personality of his customers. It uses only high-quality materials, such as calfskin, which guarantees softness and resistance. In his open-space store in Florence, pop culture is able to meet the quality of Italian shoemaking.

Custom sneakers and successful collaborations

Sometimes Clessio is commissioned to create a bespoke sneaker, i.e. a shoe built from scratch; other times it is custom designs for famous artists and among all the models the Air Force 1 is the most requested.

Among Davide’s favourite collaborations is the one with Mambolosco, the Italian rapper, as well as the one with Rafael Leão, an AC Milan footballer. These collaborations have been significant both for the results obtained and for the opportunity to interact with two figures of such depth, who have contributed substantially to enhancing and promoting the product.

In addition, the startup has had the opportunity to work with other important figures on the Italian scene. However, the first VIP Davide made a pair of shoes for was Fedez. On that occasion, he applied for the first time the technique of total customization, disassembling and reassembling the shoe. Later, thanks to a tag on social media, Fedez noticed the shoes and shared them on his channels. This exposure provided by the singer represented a springboard for the Clessio project, which has since gained enormous visibility.

On the occasion of the release of the new video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III, Davide made sneakers from scratch completely inspired by the video game. First of all, he carefully analyzed the elements of the video game and took inspiration from the materials in the armor of one of the characters, similar to a chainmail, which he reinterpreted as a black net on the shoe. As for the eyelets of the laces, he hand-painted a red snake, as well as one of the key images of the game, which blends aesthetics and functionality.

Before making these elements on the shoe, however, Davide usually makes sketches on paper and then digital, to get an idea of the final result. Once approved, the sneaker is actually produced.

New artisans 3.0 by Clessio Lab

In the style of the SRGN Academy, previously mentioned, Luca and Davide, in collaboration with Matteo Caparrini, are developing a structured course to offer a more specific and sectoral experience than the one attended by the artist before starting to work in the industry. Over a span of 5 days, Clessio Lab’s course provides students with the knowledge they need to take up professions in the industry. This course is designed for enthusiasts like Davide, who aspire to become the new 3.0 artisans, combining craftsmanship, digital skills and manual intelligence.

clessio | sneaker
Custom Air force 1 Bespoke made from vintage Hermes silk ties – @clessio_lab

In the long term, Clessio Lab’s dream is to establish a complete academy that can also integrate other craft disciplines related to the footwear and leather goods industry, with the ultimate goal of contributing to a new Italian Renaissance.

The intention is to create in his city, Bari – Puglia (Italy), a creative hub that can offer job opportunities, transforming his passion into a profession that not only helps him, but also allows others to grow and develop an interest in this field.

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