Dominic Ciambrone (aka the ‘Shoe Surgeon’) Reveals How No Celebrity Sneaker Design Has Stumped Him

Dominic Ciambrone, known as the “Shoe Surgeon” to celebrities like Justin Bieber, Nelly, Drake, and LeBron James, reveals he’s never been presented with a design idea he didn’t embrace – or wasn’t able to command.

DJ Khaled receives a custom pair of Jordans from Dominic Chambrone aka The Shoe Surgeon at DJ Khaled Special Announcement Press Conference
DJ Khaled receives a custom pair of Jordans from Dominic Chambrone aka The Shoe Surgeon at DJ Khaled Special Announcement Press Conference | Jerritt Clark/Getty Images for Epic Records

“I’ve hit my head on the walls so many times and sometimes it’s taken me a year to get something right,” he told Showbiz Cheat Sheet. “But I’ve never had to say no to a client … unless it wasn’t cost-effective for the client.”

Dominic Ciambrone is the first person celebrities visit for fresh designs

Ciambrone is known as celebrities’ go-to expert for cutting-edge shoe designs.

His challenges included customizing Nike Lebron 15s, a gift from Nike to LeBron James when he hit his 30,000-point milestone. “We wanted to create something using the rarest, most luxurious materials fit for The King,” he told Highsnobiety.

Ciambrone also moves with his client’s flow. “I made a blue pair of Jordan 12 for Drake and he loved them but also wanted them in black,” he added. “Some want specific meaning incorporated, others don’t.”

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Ciambrone recently created special shoes for Nelly when he competed on Dancing with the Stars. “I guess I mashed up [a dance shoe and sneaker),” he told Showbiz Cheat Sheet when it came to creating for Nelly.

“So, he came to me with wanting to create a cool shoe,” he said. “And the first thing that comes to my mind is functionality. How can I actually make something that works properly on the dance floor? And then secondary is how it looks. So, yeah, I mashed up the both in with my knowledge from shoe repair to making shoes and just the artistic, ‘anything’s possible’ mind I figured it out and made it happen.”

‘The Shoe Surgeon’ offers a way to win big

Ciambrone recently took on a new shoe design challenge when he partnered with Chips Ahoy! Fans can vote on what they want the new Shoe Surgeon x Chips Ahoy! sneaker to look like. Every time someone votes, $5 is donated to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America to help support arts programming at Clubs throughout the country.

Thirty fans will also be able to win a pair of Ciambrone’s signature designed sneakers. Plus the final design will also double as the new kicks that Chips Ahoy! animated spokes-cookie, Chip, will wear in ad spots.

‘Shoe Surgeon’ Dominic Ciambrone | Photo courtesy of Chips Ahoy!

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“I think everyone needs a creative outlet,” he said. “That’s why I’m just so stoked on this partnership where we’re able to connect with the Boys and Girls Club and have a workshop with Chips Ahoy in the Boys and Girls Club. And also, create engagement through creativity of the process of creating the sneaker to life through people from all over.”

Through Feb. 28, fans can visit www.chipskicks.com to vote for the shoe silhouette, style, colors, and other elements they’d like to see on Chip’s sneaker. Each entry will enter them into a sweepstakes for the chance to win exclusive prizes, including a pair of the final custom sneakers, a year’s supply of Chips Ahoy! cookies, or the opportunity to attend Shoe Surgeon’s design school.