Step into spring wearing these sneakers. Venice label No.One makes luxury kicks starting at $575
No.One co-founder Mark Gainor speaks about his bespoke sneaker company, based in Venice.
Nestled in the heart of Venice on Lincoln Boulevard is a sneaker atelier probably unlike anything you’ve seen before. That’s because no design idea appears to be too far-fetched for California sneaker gurus Mark Gainor, a former creative director at Native Shoes, and Jimmy Gorecki, a former pro-skateboarder.
The duo works together on the No.One sneaker label founded last year by Gainor, and pull from an extreme of possibilities to make the luxury footwear. Think pink pony hair, hand-painted buffalo hide, supple hunting suede, deconstructed vintage German army Gore-Tex and basketball leather used as material for the often imaginative sneakers.
For the record:
10:10 AM, Mar. 23, 2018A previous version of this story said the No.One sneaker brand was co-founded by Jimmy Gorecki and Mark Gainor. The footwear label was founded by Mark Gainor.
No.One specializes in the micro-production of high-end handmade sneakers. Prices for sneakers from the label go from $575 to $750, while its bespoke sneakers start at $1,000. The line is sold at Union on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles; in-store at No.One’s space by appointment only; and online at no-one.la.
The label’s close-knit team of four full shoemakers and two junior shoemakers stitch together the disciplines of art, craftsmanship and technology to create the bespoke sneakers, designed to have personalities of their own. Gainor called No.One’s lineup “post-skating-boarding sneakers,” meaning the sneakers hit the sweet spot between wearability and luxury.
Also helping to make sure the label stands out in the crowded footwear category is a new range of shoes, which is released monthly and generally takes two weeks to make. For March, for example, No.One dropped its Mud Cloth Charlie sneaker, made of indigo mud cloth that was sourced from the West African country Mali.
From a production standpoint, Gainor said No.One prides itself on obsession-level attention to detail and the lifetime warranty on all of its shoes. The name of the brand, he said, speaks to the idea that no one is bigger than the brand, and every person who works at the label’s studio has an equally important role.
That’s something he knows well. Gainor stumbled into the shoe business about nine years ago through graphic design roles at footwear labels Gourmet and Native Shoes. During his tenure at Native Shoes, he often traveled to China, where he was exposed to traditional methods of shoe-making. He said he fell in love with the physicality of making shoes and the magic of the process, which involves going from two-dimensional flat objects to three-dimensional pieces.
No.One hand-lasts all of its shoes, a traditional cobbling technique that separates the brand from other sneaker labels. Hand-lasting a sneaker is an involved process, one similar to the way men’s dress shoes are generally made.
“Cobbling is most definitely a dying art in the U.S.,” Gainor said. “Our company pays extreme attention to detail and honors the craft of shoe-making. Beyond that, we make one-offs of what is typically a mass-produced product, and that makes us special.”
Gainor said he and Gorecki are avid sneaker fans, and the label produces sneakers that they would want to wear themselves. Beyond their own aesthetic preferences, the two want to carve out a space within the luxury category for consumers seeking unique and limited-in-quantity sneakers.
At No.One, customers can order bespoke sneakers from three silhouettes (Alpha, Bravo and Charlie) as well as a library of leather and materials. Also, these sneakers can be personalized more through embossing and artwork.
Gainor said his favorite silhouette is the Charlie, a capped-toe sneaker with a subtle nod to the shape of the Converse Chuck Taylor. And it’s the Charlie, he said, that best embodies a laidback SoCal attitude. “It is such a California sneaker,” Gainor said. “I wear this shoe every day, and it is my favorite L.A. shoe.”
And he’s equally passionate about his feelings on the mass production of sneakers versus the small-batch approach.
“The idea of people spending a thousand dollars in a mall for a pair of shoes that looks just like someone else’s really bothers me,” Gainor said. “We take pride in the fact that our consumers have if not a one of one — then one in only a handful of sneakers. You will never see someone else with the same sneakers.”