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Tom Silvester and his 1 of 1 Carhartt Asics

Matty Cole works his magic on a pair of Gel Lyte 3.

Yesterday, Tom Silvester shared a photo set of his incredible Carhartt Asics Custom Gel Lyte 3 (made by the incredible Matty Cole) on the Facebook Group. We spoke to Tom to find out a little more about the pair itself and the inspiration behind them.

A: Hey Tom. Lets start with a little about the man behind the pair. Who are you, and what do you do?

T: Well, I’m Tom Silvester, and I’m currently working full time at the Carhartt WIP Outlet in Birmingham. I’m also a freelance graphic designer, and my main hobby is photographing and documenting my sneakers, which takes up a fair bit of my time.

A: And how did you first get ‘into’ sneakers. A really odd question I know, and one hard to answer, but any certain pairs/periods/movements that got you involved and intrigued?


T: The first pair that got me into collecting sneakers was the Nike Air Max 1 KRSS (Keep Ripping Stop Slipping). It was the first pair I was fascinated by – the designer in me appreciated the construction and innovation, and they released when I believe the culture was at its prime – the collaborations that were being released, such as KRSS, were truly unique. To cut a long story short, my love for the Air Max 1 always remains, but sadly they ruin my feet (medically). I made the ‘transition’ to Asics and the Gel Lyte 3 – the split tongue gave me a lot more comfort than 1s ever did, and since then, I’m indebted to Asics. Asides from that, my other favourite models include the Presto and the Air Max 95.

A: And where or how did your fascination with Carhartt start?

T: When I was about 17 I was selling clusters of it in Size? and clusters of it in Urban Outfitters, and always thought it would be an awesome company to work for. When you research into the history of the brand and its materials, heritage and designs, it’s truly immersive. At first, a lot of what’s produced can make no sense, but when you find out the back stories for each item and it’s particulars, it can open a whole new appreciation for something you might not have given the time of day originally. Being contacted to work and help set up the first outlet in the UK was a major point for me. I left a design job where I was earning more than enough money, to work for a company where I earn less money, but receive a lot more love from the job. Making the choice I have has given me the time to do my hobby a lot more (photography) and has introduced me to loads more projects than I would have had as a designer.


A: Would you like to one day move into the design side of the brand, internally that is?

T: Yes that is my intention. I will have a lot of catching up to do but I would love to join the design team and work in a different country one day, or even if it was a photographer for Carhartt, which would really intrigue me, especially with what I’m doing at the moment. When it’s my day off its my day to go shooting! Then it’s back in work the next day until I’m off again haha. I’m currently climbing the retail positions within Carhartt so I wouldn’t say I’m a jack of all trades but the more areas I can learn in then surely the better off I’ll be in the long run.


A: Yeah for sure, your loyalty to the brand is impeccable. So, onto your pair. What made you want to create the Carhartt custom, besides being a lover of the brand? Did any other pair, or any of Matt’s work inspire you?

T: I always wanted a custom pair of sneakers, who doesn’t want there own 1 of 1 pair? It was by luck really that Matt recognised me as an enthusiast of sneakers and Asics in particular, and he went on to ask me for a ‘Carhartt’ favour and in return, he would create a pair of Carhartt customs for me. Matts work and restorations have always intrigued me; I had no worries about the project what so ever, and I knew he would give it his all. We wanted to make something that looked real, that turned heads, and since we have posted them I think it’s been a success in confusing and exciting people.





IMG_8568A: What were your reasonings behind the design, colours, materials and details on the shoe?

 T: The materials used weren’t changed from the base pair, the Honey Mustard general release, which I already liked and thought represented the brand well. I wanted my pair to be simple, similar to Packer Gel Lyte 3 almost, using a solid upper and a solid midsole, with little details here and there. I wanted it to be a sneaker people might skip past if they aren’t looking properly, something I’d imagine will get a lot of double takes. Just like Carhartt apparel items, they have the main C tag or the little logotype, and that’s it – that’s all I wanted. We had to make the most of the space at the back of the heel, it was practically asking for something to be done to it. We then had to make the colour as close as possible to the company colour of Hamilton brown, which was made by Hamilton Carhartt so that if workers got dirt and scuffs on their trousers or overalls, they wouldn’t be as visible if they were on a black or navy garment, making the shoes super wearable and resistant to little marks and stains.
A: They are awesome indeed. If I had to ask what your single one most favourite part of the shoe was, what would it be? Don’t give me any rubbish about the whole shoe – what’s your favourite one-off part/detail?
IMG_8433T: Haha. My favourite detail about the pair is the golden eyelets. The branding and tags ‘make’ the sneaker but I believe the golden eyelets give it ‘character’. I think if it didn’t have the eyelets, it would just be a pair of Asics with Carhartt tags on, but adding them acted as a subtle detail has changed the entire aesthetic completely and also fits the ethos of the company. I’m also in the process of trying to get custom insoles just to finish off the custom.

IMG_8412A: Ah very cool, the golden ‘eyelets’ reminded me instantly of Woeis, and it made me think for 0.01 of a second that they were the base! Silly old me.

T: Haha. The Woei is one of my favourite Gel Lyte 3s.

A: Woei x Carhartt right? Wonder what Mr. Woei & Parra think of that!

T: Haha! That’s would be something!

A: Getting back on to the shoes, if you were to have the chance to design a second pair of Carhartt kicks, say on a Gel Lyte V, would you change anything, or use another colour scheme? I also associate Carhartt with camo and general olive tones. Thoughts?

T: Good question. Well firstly, I wouldn’t do a 5 as I’m not the biggest fan of the model, but never the less, if I had to do another custom, I would probably do a black pair, white midsole, camo tiger striping on the inside and a different colour on the outside – reminiscent of Footpatrol GL3, and I would also try and include a Ripstop material, maybe the toebox, and then add a few tags again maybe in different places, that would be a vague idea for another pair. That would take a lot more time, with the base pair having to be decon and reconstructed with new materials. That would be the next level. We MIGHT be doing a 3rd pair at some point so there is every possibility, 3 is the magic number after all.

IMG_8488A How long did this take, and how long ago did you ‘start’ the custom?

T: Though the duration of this project I sat back whilst the real MVP Matt aka Foesone smashed these beauties out the park. I had a vague idea of how I wanted it to look but Matt was the guy who put in the hours to making it something truly unique. Forever indebted to Matt and not only for creating an awesome piece of art, but in the process I made friends with a truly talented, humble dude. And in terms of the duration of this custom, it feels like forever but I think it’s a good 2 months. There was talk of having these at the last Sneaks and Peaks so they were in the making before that. Matt is making his own pair, slightly different to mine with the same theme, so it would be great to have them both on ‘display’ together.


A: Ah that would have been cool, would have loved to see in the flesh, and would love to one day.

T: Hopefully Matt will be with me at the next S&P and will be showcasing his there too, so that’s the place to be if you want to see two pairs of Carhartt Asics.

A: I think that’s the end, thanks for your time dude, and do you have any final words?

T: Just once again, a massive shout to Matt for his time and his patience throughout this project, another big shout to a close friend of mine who is also called Matt for letting me use his wood work studio to shoot them in, and just a word to the community that you should never ‘half arse things’ in life, no matter what it is – give everything your all and great thing a will be achieved. Guess I’ll see you around at events here and there. Thanks for having me!

We’d like to hear your thoughts on the pair in the comments below. If you could collaborate with a brand on a pair of kicks, which would it be and why?

Written by: Adam Bartlett

Interviewee & Photographer: Tom Silvester

Customiser: Matty Cole