Dominic Ciambrone wasted no time. With such a big idea, he couldn’t afford it.
At 8:13 p.m., as soon as the NFC Championship Game ended, he texted Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
“ONE MORE!” he wrote as Beckham walked off the field after the Rams cruised to a 20-17 win over the San Francisco 49ers to advance to the Super Bowl. More than just a gesture of congratulations, the message showed that Ciambrone, known as The Shoe Surgeon, was already thinking about his next project with Beckham.
For the past three years, the shoe customizer with a million Instagram followers has created custom kicks for the NFL’s flashiest star. Earlier this season, their collaborative relationship, which originally focused on off-the-pitch customs, extended to Beckham’s cleats. For the NFC Championship, Ciambrone concocted two pairs of cleats for Beckham – one for pre-game warm-ups and another to wear during the game.
“ONE MOREEEEE,” Beckham replied to Ciambrone at 10:02 p.m., hours after catching nine passes for 113 yards to help the Rams win a game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI. One more Sunday meant one more opportunity for head-turning creation for fashionable athlete feet. And what he had in mind this time was bigger and brighter than anything he had ever designed for a football player. Beckham had finally reached a moment that matched his customizer’s ambition.
“I answered OBJ,” Ciambrone recalled from his design studio five days before the Super Bowl. “I was like, ‘What about a tack of gold and diamonds?’
“OBJ said, ‘Yeah. Me, you and Jason.’
Ciambrone then reached out to famed jeweler Jason Arasheben, who runs Jason of Beverly Hills. Beckham is a long-time customer.
“Dominic came up to me and said, ‘Let’s do something magical… but do you think you can finish it in 10 days?’ “Arasheben said. “I was like, ‘Are you kidding me? Do you know how long that takes? Typically, this would have been a three to four month project. But we had to move quickly to put this together.
A period of less than two weeks. Exactly 1,494 individual diamonds totaling over 25 carats. And more than 100 hours of work. That’s what it took to deliver the cleats Beckham will wear on the field at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles on Sunday for warm-ups ahead of his first career Super Bowl appearance. Worth around $200,000, Beckham’s pre-game kicks are probably the most expensive cleats ever made for an NFL player.
“Because it’s the biggest sports stage in the world, the biggest sports game in the world,” Arasheben said, “we wanted to make sure we were doing something historic.”
The week following the NFC Championship, Ciambrone and Arasheben met to conceptualize. They relied on each other’s expertise as a skilled shoemaker and trained eye for diamonds to determine just how extravagant the cleat design could reach.
“We started looking at color palettes and ideas for how it could be put together,” Arasheben said. “Dominic teaches me what it is possible to do in the manufacture of a shoe in terms of the use of leathers and skins. And I tell him what is possible as far as the incorporation of diamond material is concerned.
The design duo also channeled their experience working together on a similar project last year. Together, Ciambrone and Arasheben made NBA sneaker king PJ Tucker a pair of crocodile and diamond leather Air Jordan 1s while he played for the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2021 Finals. Tucker wore the sneakers 250,000 $, adorned with 2,020 white diamonds set in 150 grams of 14-karat white gold, in the arena before the Bucks’ Game 6 win over the Phoenix Suns that won them the NBA title.
Yet with their latest collaboration, The Shoe Surgeon and Jason of Beverly Hills have entered uncharted territory. Ciambrone designed cleats for many NFL players, from Beckham to Aaron Rodgers and even a pair for Travis Kelce that “his coach wouldn’t let him wear…they were too crazy.” But he had never customized cleats for a player to wear to a Super Bowl, let alone a pair designed with diamonds.
Arasheben has a customer base of over 200 NFL players. And last year, he designed the championship rings for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, winners of Super Bowl LV, which seven-time champion quarterback Tom Brady called “by far the most incredible ring ever.” been made”. But Arasheben had never seen a player wear their jewelry on the pitch – especially not on cleats.
“It’s the first time I’ve made a pair of performance shoes with diamonds,” Arasheben said. Three years ago, he customized a $2 million pair of 14,000 diamond Tom Ford loafers for America’s Got Talent host Nick Cannon. “There’s a big difference between putting diamonds on a pair of shoes for walking around and putting diamonds on shoes you’re supposed to play in.
“So we had to try to keep OBJ’s cleats light and make sure they were comfortable to wear. There were certainly additional considerations to be taken into account to achieve this.
Ciambrone has been perfecting their approach to customizing Beckham’s cleats for months. After first meeting in 2019 at a New Year’s Eve party hosted by rapper Drake, they spent three years working together exclusively on off-court footwear – custom Air Force 1s for the ESPYS red carpet. at Air Jordan 1 Dress Shoes for the wedding of Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield.
The shoe surgeon didn’t make his first pair of custom cleats for Beckham until this season, after the 29-year-old wide receiver was released by the Cleveland Browns in November. Beckham signed a one-year deal with the Rams, relocating mid-season to Los Angeles, where Ciambrone’s design studio is based.
“The fact that it’s on the east coast rather than being in the same city is different,” Ciambrone said. “We’ve been able to click more creatively since he’s been in LA”
After fashion designer Virgil Abloh died of cancer on November 28, 2021, Beckham launched Ciambrone with the idea of creating a pair of cleats to honor his late friend. Abloh became a titan in the sneaker world through collaborations between his fashion label Off-White and Nike that began in 2017. That same year, Beckham landed the richest shoe deal in history for a NFL player, signing a five-year, $29 million contract. extension with Nike which has made him the face of the brand’s football division for the past five years. Responding to Beckham’s request, Ciambrone recreated a pair of Abloh’s Off-White x Nike Air Force 1 “Lemonade” he laced up for the Rams’ Week 14 warm-ups. Monday night football game against the Arizona Cardinals in December.
“It was cool to be able to pay tribute to Virgil for OBJ,” Ciambrone said. “It’s a shame he didn’t play there. He said they were a bit heavy, so we went back to the drawing board and I started to lighten things up.
Ahead of the NFC Championship, Ciambrone prioritized Beckham’s playing cleats — a pair that resembles the gold-star Supreme x Nike SB Dunks, but designed in Rams team colors. Pre-game cleats came next, after Ciambrone took inspiration from material in his studio that reminded him of the late Kobe Bryant’s Nike Kobe 6 “Prelude” from 2014. Beckham wore both pairs the night the he and the Rams were forging their way into the biggest game of his life.
That initial post-game text exchange between Ciambrone and Beckham eventually turned into the receiver’s daily check-ins once Super Bowl week rolled around.
“When I go to sleep, I think of those diamond studs,” Ciambrone said Tuesday of Super Bowl week. “And then I wake up to a text from OBJ. It was endless hours of back and forth.
After The Shoe Surgeon and Jason of Beverly Hills finalized the essentials of the design – flawless D-color diamonds hand-set under a microscope in two yellow gold Swooshes – the race to finish the cleats in time for the Super Bowl has begin.
“Everything is really on deck right now,” Arasheben said on the phone with four days before the game. “I literally had employees staying overnight at the factory. Everyone knows it’s our #1 priority.
While his 14-person project team worked on the diamond pieces for Ciambrone, Arasheben arranged for an armored truck to deliver the cleats to Beckham before the game. Both the customizer and the jeweler wanted to make sure the cleats fit properly before their star client put them on for the pitch.
Arasheben, however, had already given Beckham the most important instructions for wearing the cleats.
“I said to OBJ, ‘Make sure no one comes in contact with you during warm-ups.’ I don’t want diamonds coming out.