For decades, the Michael Jordans, LeBron Jameses and Kevin Durants of the sports world have cashed in by wearing sneakers and signing multi-million dollar shoe deals. But what about Seabiscuits, Secretariats and Seattle Slews?
Where is the hoof for the equestrian athlete?
Marcus Floyd has an answer, because he doesn’t make horseshoes. He does horse kicks.
Floyd, the 39-year-old owner of upstart fashion brand Infinite Kustomz, has created several sets of designer shoes for athletic equines. He began upgrading Nike, Adidas and New Balance sneakers after Visit Lex, the public tourism agency in Lexington, Ky., pitched him the idea ahead of this weekend’s Breeders’ Cup horse races. -end.
“For too long these multi-millionaires” – horses, that is – “have been fitted with traditional, ordinary horseshoes,” Visit Lex said on its website promoting the project. “Horse Kicks is here to change that . . . giving horses of all breeds and disciplines the drip they deserve.
This summer, Visit Lex approached Floyd, who was born and raised in Lexington, to bring his vision to fruition. Floyd, who works night shifts at a Toyota dealership for maintenance, said he’s been a sneakerhead since seventh grade. His first pair of high-end shoes: the Air Jordan 11. He remained obsessed with high school and into adulthood. An “old-school guy,” he camped out at the mall from 3 or 4 a.m. to make sure he had a pair of sneakers the day they fell.
“I was a brick-and-mortar type of guy,” he said.
Then the game changed, Floyd said. Younger sneakerheads have started using bots to buy newly released shoes online, making it nearly impossible to get them in stores, even for die-hard campers. So Floyd adapted. From 2016, he makes his own “new” shoes by taking older, sometimes less popular shoes and painting them.
“If I want something unique, I’ll create it myself,” he said.
In 2020, he upped his customization game by flying to Los Angeles to take a four-day course at Shoe Surgeon’s SRGN Academy, where students learn how to deconstruct and then remake sneakers. Since then, Floyd said, he’s created about 20 pairs.
About five months after the academy, he started making shoes for customers. Although Floyd described his average client as an “everyday sneakerhead,” he said he’s had some notable clients, including Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men and actor Isaac Keys of the TV show “Power Book IV: Strength”. Earlier this year, he made a client a pair of Duke University-themed Nike Air Force 1s she wore to legendary Blue Devils basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski’s retirement party.
Then, in June, a public relations firm approached Floyd on behalf of Visit Lex, also known as the Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau, with an idea: what if you made shoes for horses? The organization responsible for cheerleading on all things Lexington, which the bureau has dubbed the “horse capital of the world,” said the wider sports world often overlooks racehorse athleticism and wants do something to highlight it.
“They thought it would be cool to develop the horses as athletes,” Floyd said, “because that’s what they are.”
Then came the idea: the athletes wear shoes. They get sneaker deals. These shoes are part of their brands and their identity. Why not horses like Justify or American Pharoah?
So the band approached Floyd, and he got to work. Unlike the shoes he made for humans, he had no guides to rely on. As far as he knew, no one had ever made horse trainers.
His prototype – modified Air Jordan 1s – took 12-15 hours to design, deconstruct and manufacture clogs. And that was just for one shoe, not the four needed to outfit a horse. But Floyd said he would be able to cut production time with more experience. He also plans to make Infinite Kustomz-branded horse kicks from scratch, eliminating the time it takes to disassemble sneakers designed for human feet.
So far, he has produced five sets of four shoes: two Air Jordan 1s, a New Balance 650, an Adidas Yeezys and a set in the style of the Nike Mag Back to the Future shoes.
Floyd said the attention his horse kicks were getting was surreal and he was trying to absorb it all.
“The initial reaction was liberating because like wow the world is finally seeing my art,” Floyd said. “I’m finally getting the love I thought came a long time ago for some of the other projects I’ve done.”
But he tries not to get too involved. There is still work to be done. He also wants to team up with big shoe companies to tap into the new industry, which he says has plenty of room to grow.
“There’s a huge market for footwear for these athletes, whether they’re running in them, jumping or just going to the show,” Floyd said, adding that he hopes companies “understand the market for the equestrian athlete.”