Retracing the Strange History Of Skate Shoe Design | “… few were actually designed specifically for skateboarding.”
For a long time skateboarding existed without specialized skateboard shoes. For reasons that this article on The Hundreds goes into it was shoes like the Air Jordan 1, which could be found on discount for many years that became the choice of skaters. Then shit got REAL weird during the excessive late 90’s period of Osiris, DC, and others. So why are these disgusting shoes enjoying a comeback now? Just another questionable decision in the timeline of the strange history of skate shoe design.
The timeline of footwear designed for skateboarding is odd, especially considering how paramount shoes are to the act itself. Yes, this sounds kind of dumb, but dumb is threaded into the history of skate shoes, as there’s been so many designed seemingly and sometimes actually without logic. A large part of the difficulty is that riding a skateboard destroys your shoes at a rate that is higher than almost any other activity, and reaching a balance between durable and functional is tricky. You can completely ignore any cares about wear and create something that feels better than it lasts and that’s fine too. When we step back and look at the timeline, skate footwear is hardly a linear path, dotted with spurts of innovation, jumps backward and forward in aesthetics, and also, is often impossible to predict. I don’t envy those entrenched in it.
What’s interesting in looking at some of the most iconic silhouettes in skateboarding, is that few were actually designed specifically for skateboarding. There’s a few reasons for this, the largest being factory limitations; it’s easier and more affordable to adapt something that exists to skating, rather than bringing it to live soup to nuts. Another major factor is that it’s often hard to adapt and evolve a product for an activity that changes so rapidly. For example, when Vans created its first shoes specifically for skateboarding in 1976 with Tony Alva and Stacy Peralta, most of the tricks—including the ollie—didn’t exist yet.