PILSEN — Twista can't stop gawking at his customized Chicago-themed shoes.
The kicks were created especially for the city-born rapper, who will co-host Sole Expo with Chance the Rapper on July 19-20. The event, which will feature 100-plus vendors selling exclusive shoes, will take place at Lacuna Artist Lofts, 2150 S. Canalport Ave., in Pilsen.
The shoes range in price from $100 to several thousand dollars.
"I'm trying to decide when or if I'm going to wear them," said Twista, 40, a North Lawndale native. "Sometimes you'll get those shoes, and you'll just stare at them. I'm definitely staring at these shoes hard. When I saw the stitching, I said, 'This is the s---.'"
The shoes, bright-white Air Jordan 1s with the city's blue-and-red flag on the tongue, six-pointed red stars on the Nike swoosh and blue stitching, were made by Brad Torf of Astrotorf Customs. They also have Twista's "773" area code stitched on the back.
"For a kid growing up in Chicago, having my work displayed on an Air Jordan on a hip-hop star's feet, that's pretty cool," said Torf, 35. "It's really a privilege to be able to give someone something that no one else is going to have."
Torf is making 10 versions of the shoes, including one for Twista's manager Rawle Stewart and another for Sole Expo creator Alan Wehbi. The designs were created using "part stencil, part free-hand," Torf said.
Wehbi "wanted it nice and simple, nothing over the top," Torf said.
Wehbi hopes Sole Expo can marry custom shoe events with a celebrity atmosphere.
"I've been friends with Twista now for a good little while, and through my knowledge of sneakers and event planning and his ties to entertainment, we've been able to piece a lot of people together," said Wehbi, 31.
Wehbi said Sole Expo will feature a "Sole Survivor" contest, a two-day live shoe customizing competition with some of the country's best customizers, including Torf, Dillon DeJesus and Raleigh Restorations.
As co-host, Twista said his biggest duty would be signing autographs and introducing DJs, but he also intended to buy some footwear.
"I'm going to be Twista as a celebrity but also doing just as much as a fan," Twista said. "To me, this event would be a success if it catapults a new way of advertising shoe events and concerts paired together."
Sole Expo tickets, which range from $20 to $75 for a two-day VIP pass, are now on sale. For more information, click here.
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