éS and Crooked Tongues | The Foothills Project

Call me a cynic, but I’m critical and unforgiving on most skate-related collaborations, especially on anything that feels like it was shoehorned into a release schedule. I’m no longer part of the target audience for pure and functional skate product perhaps, but seeing companies unite over projects that have nothing in common with each other repels me from both brands. As a result, I don’t feature anything on Trashfilter unless I feel there’s some thought and substance behind it. Or unless I just like it a lot.

I was still part of the Crooked Tongues family back when the éS guys approached to work on a collaboration, and whilst I’d have liked to have been involved on this project, it was clear that Charlie and Gary at CT had the skills and foresight to do a more than adequate job. Once I’d moved on, I occasionally heard small progress updates on what was happening behind the scenes, and as soon as the guys had been invited over to Sole Technology’s headquarters I realised that this project was definitely happening.

Seeing an established brand such as éS take a slight detour from their regular path strikes a small amount of fear into me. Visions of past experiments from other brands flood my mind – it’s better to be a master of one area, than a jack of all trades when it comes to skate footwear. So it’s a pleasant surprise to see the resulting product range looks original enough to be a departure from the usual, but also something that holds true to my perceived image of the brand.

The Foothills shoe itself is something new, but looks familiar. Taking a little ACG inspiration (the side panels have more than a hint of Humara about them), but mixing it up with a more precise silhouette, the result is something that looks like it’d be at home on the trails or the pavement. If the toe panel had introduced a little ollie protection, I can’t see that you wouldn’t be able to skate in these too: the System 02 airbag is one of the best cushioning systems out there at the moment. The asymmetric tongue gives a similar fit to a Footscape, holding the foot nicely in place without becoming a hindrance.

As well as the shoes, the CT guys created an accessory for each of the colourways. Actually, ‘accessory’ isn’t the right word: the 3-layered jacket, Oxford weave backpack and ripstop cap would quite rightly be the key elements of most other projects.

The jacket is something that deserves to be seen in person, as no level of photography can do it justice in terms of design and quality. First thing you’ll notice if you pick it up, is that it’s not a flyaway cagoule. There’s some seriously good construction here, giving you the feeling that even if you encountered the low pressure weather systems depicted on the shoebox packaging you’d still emerge unscathed. It’s one of the best jackets I’ve seen since the last series of Acronym pieces. The backpack is no different: a heavy-duty piece of luggage, tough enough to deflect bullets. Sturdy zips, comfortable straps and plenty of securing mechanisms. The cap is a simpler affair, but still matches the quality shown elsewhere.

I have a feeling that these will be slow-burners, as the project is a bold move for both brands. Instead of going for the hype-market – the easy option of re-presenting established crowd pleasers in new colourways – this is something new and progressive that doesn’t target anyone in particular. If you want something that’s both functional and looks good, then you don’t need to look any further. And if for some reason they don’t resonate with you, you can’t do anything but applaud a genuine approach to creating something new.

The éS & Crooked Tongues Foothills collection has been produced in extremely limited numbers, going on sale at crookedtongues.com and in selected retailers from 20th August 2009.

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