Anyone who knows me has probably heard me harp on about my repeatedly-broken left ankle. After the third time (back foot slipping off a weak five-stair pop shove-it, in case you suspected the cause to be something non-skate related), it’s just never been the same: it sounds like a toddler smashing Lego bricks with a hammer. And it hurts. After two hours of walking anywhere, it says ‘Fuck this’ and tweaks itself to the side. So without any decent skate footwear to roll around in, I’d be destined to stay inside, get fat and write blog posts repeatedly. Oh… Hang on…
So, low-tops are out. High tops are fine, but I always found them a little too restrictive in the past. So I started trawling through the recent releases to find something that ticked the boxes. A quick open Twitter conversation threw back some interesting suggestions, but the kind offer to pick something from the Sole Tech range was way too good to pass up. Have a quick re-cap of the past year’s output from Emerica, Etnies or éS (who are taking a hiatus for 2012) and it’s a hard call. The (Jerry) Hsu 2 model, the Cessnor Mid, Bledsoe Mids – all were good choices. But, with his ‘Stay Gold‘ part still ringing in my head, I settled for the Westgate model.
Before I go into a standard product write-up, it’s worth commenting on the whole worthiness of Brandon Westgate getting his own pro shoe. A fairly recent addition to professional skateboarding, you’d almost be forgiven if you thought he was just put in the mix to add another shoe to the product catalogue. In which case, I insist that you watch this following video before reading any further:
I can’t think of too many of the younger generation of pro skaters who’ve made such an indelible mark so quickly. Westgate’s part in the Zoo York video was when I first really took notice, but his ‘Stay Gold’ section was incredible. And if you haven’t seen the ‘B-Sides’ offcuts to that, you should cut yourself a 15-minute break and watch that over here immediately. Shoe-worthy indeed, especially when you line him up next to a good 90% of his fellow shelf-sharers.
I haven’t gone with a vulcanized sole to skate in for a while, so I was looking forwards to getting some proper board feeling under my feet again. The Westgate is double wrapped on the midsoles, which means the sidewalls aren’t going to blow out anytime soon. The STI PU Foam Lite footbed might look like I’ve just typed a load of random letters together, but it’s actually a decent piece of technology: really comfortable and fitted around the heel cup without being tight. I’d like to tell you that it can handle 12-stair ollies perfectly, but let’s be realistic about my abilities these days. I can assure you that it does handle three-stair fakie ollies and switch heelflips on flat though, so I was happy enough. The whole OrthoLite element in the footbed means that any moisture is wicked away, air flow is optimal and your shoes don’t end up stinking.
Now, where lots of models have let me down is on the standard ollie area: find me a shoe that doesn’t look screwed after a week of being scraped up and down the griptape and I’ll show you a flip-flop and bleeding toes. However, these have three layers of quality suede to tear your way through and are triple-stitched on all important areas. I’m going to go all out and say that I reckon these will still look fine after a few pretty vigorous sessions.
So, in short, the Emerica Westgate model has pretty much got it all. Firstly, no-one is ever going to question the ‘athletic endorsement’ side of things, so that’s one thing less to worry about. Lookswise, even if you don’t play it safe and go with the black or the dark grey options, there’s a nice green version available too. I’ve seen a photo of a great-looking black and cranberry version as well – nicely appropriate, considering Westgate’s family background – which the good chaps over at the Ripped Laces site posted a few weeks back.
Big thanks to Tom and the nice people at Emerica and Sole Tech for sending these across.
Filed Under: Reviews