Tag: "Nike"

Nike Sportswear | Nike Lunar Macleay+

Nike Lunar Macleay

The Nike Lunar Macleay mid-top, which aside from the Lunarlon sole unit looks like it could have fallen from the ACG catalogues a decade ago, has quite rightly racked up more than a few words online. Everyone loves it. And when you see it for yourself, you’ll understand why.

I’ve been a fan of the ACG range for a long time. Back when my friends and I had transcended the whole Chipie jeans and Chevignon sweatshirts period, we moved from Air Flights and Travel Fox to more rugged footwear. Nike unleashed one of my favourite models of all-time around this point (the underrated Son of Lava Dome) and I became a fan of the often quirkily-named footwear that came with hiking trails, mountains and woodlands in mind. The Lunar Macleay, named after a walking trail in Portland, is right up there with the very best of the range, perhaps sitting alongside another old favourite of mine, the Air Approach 150 from 1996.

Nike Lunar Macleay

Using the Lunar Elite last, the first thing I really noticed when wearing these out and about was just how light and comfortable the sole unit it. Going into a diatribe about various cushioning systems is all very easy when you’re presented with strange and experimental technologies, but the Lunar sole is without a doubt one of the most comfortable I’ve ever worn. Almost makes me wish I hadn’t slept on the Lunar Elites (which use the exact same last) from a few months back.

Nike Lunar Macleay

There have been a few colourways of this model in the shops so far: the ink and taupe models here were accompanied with a bright cactus version and a stealthy black version around the same time, but it looks like there are other colourways to come.

Nike Lunar Macleay

The ink version has a leather upper, with some embossed molded panels along the sides, whilst the faded taupe edition has a completely different and slightly ore lightweight synthetic upper. Other differences are the Swoosh on the side (embroidered on the leathers, plastic on the taupes) and the use of 3M on the lighter pair is reappropriated in stitching on the darker ones. D-ring lacing systems and proper hiking laces round things off on the outside, whilst the comfortable lining and pull-on tongue continues the style and comfort inside. For those of you more in-tune with your fitness levels, these will work with the Nike+ system as well.

Nike Lunar Macleay

Just when I thought I’d got enough pairs of shoes this month, Nike go and do it again. Watch for the other colourways in your local Tier Zero spots, although it seems that some colourways haven’t yet covered a global radius. More please!

Thank you to Phoebe Lovatt for the generous hook-up on these.

Chrome Ball Incident | Nike Dunk SB

Let’s kick off with a stack of predictable questions to warm the audience up a bit. What is your own personal background? Have you always skated? What is your current day job?

Chops: I started skating in 1988 after a friend of mine’s older brother who skated brought in a copy of Animal Chin. I have just turned 33 years of age and currently work a dead-end job at a real estate office with a bunch of old ladies. They have no idea about any of this and seem to think I have a developed a strange fetish for colorful Nike sneakers all of a sudden.

At one point, I actually told one of them about the shoe and they called me a liar.

Whilst a lot of our readers will know of your site, there will undoubtedly be a few who haven’t discovered it yet. When did you start Chrome Ball and what inspired you to begin the lengthy process of scanning and uploading?

I started Chrome Ball in April of 2008 as a side project and diversion from some of the other hobbies I have (graphic design, photography, filmmaking)… however CBI quickly took the main focus: it kinda just took off, so I went with it. The response was pretty immediate. Within a month, I had comments from Andy Stone and Andy Jenkins. I couldn’t believe it. Still can’t.

Epicly Later’d, Beautiful Losers, Bob Shirt, Police Informer and Seb Carayol and Mackenzie Eisenhower’s articles got me inspired in this whole ‘skatehoarding’ thing. I figured I had the mags and there were definitely some things I wanted to put out there that I wasn’t seeing.

I’m just stoked on skateboarding and want to stoke other people out as well. Plus, I don’t feel nearly as crazy remembering some random ad from 1988 if I know there are a few other people right there with me.

That’s exactly how I felt when I found your site: there are other people out there like myself! Able to recall largely-useless but personally-meaningful information and details. Chrome Ball feels like a secret club, in a positive way. There are so many things mentioned in your posts or in the comments from your readers that resonate with me: have you been surprised how many likeminded people there are out there?

It’s nice. Its good to know I’m not crazy and that other people remember this crap too.

Gotta admit, there are some readers that got me beat hands-down on some of these details though.

Neil Blender’s great skating and artwork and the first Alien video and ads are the easy connections to make, but what made you choose ‘Chrome Ball’ as the title? Have you corresponded with Neil much?

I’m glad they’re easy connections for you because I couldn’t tell you how many people have asked me why I named the site after pinball.

Blender’s always been such a huge influence on me since I started skating in grade school. Just his creativity and overall demeanor. I thought it would be a good reference for those old enough and I liked the uniformity and format of the title with the number count.

And there’s been a bit of correspondence, yes.

Most sites and blogs allow commenting on posts, but I can’t think of many others where the comments actually add so much to the original post. Reading personal stories from former pro riders (such as Eric Ricks) and other people who each add their own strand to the posts is a big part of the site’s appeal. Have there been any specific posts that have impressed or particularly surprised you? Do you spend much time moderating or are things kept fairly sensible?

Comments are the lifeblood of the site. It’s what I feed off of and keeps me motivated. The interaction and the different interpretations. Always appreciated. And when pros get on there. It always stokes me out.

I honestly don’t have to moderate at all. People keep it pretty sensible. Sometimes people get on there and disagree with something I’ve written… and that’s fine. I welcome debate… although someone usually ends up arguing for me before I get the chance to.

I think I’ve maybe deleted two comments in CBI’s existence and I believe that was because they were random racist remarks from anonymous readers

How do you fit time in your daily schedule to update the site? Have you got a list of future subjects that you work to or is it generally freestyled from post to post?

A post usually takes around 3 hours. And yeah, it can totally be a pain in the ass. Luckily I stay up late and don’t sleep much so I still find time to do other things.

The posts started out as just having one scan each – not these 10-scan monstrosities I do now. They just sort of grew over time.

I always have a few candidates in my head floating around. Whenever I think that I have enough material collected and feel like a post of theirs would be interesting, I go for it.

I’ve got little slips of people lying around all over my apartment. Some people seem to think I’m this sort of Rainman-esque type character with a mental index of Thrasher magazine floating around in my brain. Sorry. Not nearly that interesting!

This is where I have to send a special thanks to my girl Peel for putting up with all this.

I just had a partial cleanse of old magazines in my house: once things stop fitting into my bookshelves and piling up on the floor, I convince myself that it’s time for a cull. Slinging piles of $5 magazines into the recycling pile kills me though. How do you handle the storage situation? Do you keep whole copies of mags or do you just clip certain pages?

Whole magazines.

The storage situation is kind of ridiculous here. Subconsciously, I think I started the site as way to have a valid excuse not to throw any of them away.

I’m already finding myself trying to pick up copies of things I threw away or lost years ago. Pretty frustrating and annoying.

Have you ever had any requests to remove anything from the site? I’d be disappointed to hear that anyone had flexed the ‘copywrite laws’ upon you…

Well then I won’t ruin it for you! It wasn’t a post that I did for the Chrome Ball site though. Let’s just say that a few months ago, I did 2 ‘kingsized’ posts on the same day – one for CBI and another for the website of the world’s largest skateboard magazine involving the same skater. One of my all-time photographers reportedly flexed over there on the copyright issue and it was taken down. Fortunately he left CBI alone.

I was bummed but I can’t complain. I understand that this is both his art and his livelihood and I do operate in an area that one could hardly consider ‘legally sound’.

I reckon all of the best artists operate slightly outside of the law.

At the time of writing, you’re just over 500 posts deep, which is incredible. Are there any other projects or major developments in your future plans for the site?

I’m kinda just making it up as I go along… It’s gotten me this far.

I’m a big fan of the web and a lot of my daily life seems to involve being online, but even if people suggest that print is dying, I don’t think anything online will ever replace the feeling of picking up a physical magazine or book. Chrome Ball celebrates print by displaying it online. Did you intentionally set out to bridge that gap? Do you prefer print to web, or do you see equal merits in both?

Print is dying but I don’t think it will ever completely vanish. Information is processed so quickly that its just so hard for the mags to keep the pace. I’m not sure kids just starting to skate today could do a CBI-type site in the future. I guess it would be just a bunch of links to whatever remains. CBI works because in the ‘80s, you had a very finite amount of information regarding skateboarding that everyone just studied over and over again until the next round of mags came out.

I think you’re right in that nothing online with ever replace the physicality of a magazine. What do you do when you find an article online you really dig? You print it out so you can “have” it. At least I do… but then again, I’m old.

How did the project with Nike come about?

Completely out of the blue. I had been receiving some shoes every now and then from a reader over at Nike that dug the site. Well, one day the guy emailed me while I was at work and wanted to set up a time to talk on the phone later that night. I didn’t really think too much of it… I actually thought he wanted to do some sort of Nike-sponsored trivia contest on the site or something. Needless to say, I was shocked when he brought up designing my own shoe.

I only told about 3 or 4 people during the first 6 months of the process cause I still didn’t really think it would actually go down. It just seems so unbelievable.

Honestly, Chrome Ball was supposed to end at the end of August, 2009… I was about ready to announce it on the site when Rob called and asked me to do the shoe… giving the site an extended lease on life. I’m glad he did. That Rob is a solid dude.

You mentioned that you wouldn’t have done the project without Neil Blender’s stamp of authority: how did he respond and how involved did he get in the design process?

Blender already had a project going on with Nike at the time, I just rode on his coat tails. He did the low-top and I did the high. He gave us the okay to use the artwork and name but other than that… he let us do our thing. Thanks Neil.

In the offering, there’s a hightop Dunk, based on the classic Airwalk Enigma colourway and with a little graphic reference to the era when everyone was hacking down their shoes. Was that particular period of skating your favourite? Were there any particular scenes, skaters or companies that you followed religiously?

I just thought it would be a nice touch. It only made sense for the sneaker to be a throwback since the site itself is so rooted in the past. Busting out the fresh new gear for 2011 doesn’t really make sense for a site that spends all its time talking about 1992.

The scissors are just a little nod for the older dudes that remember the whole shoe mutilation craze. Younger dudes think it has something to do with rock, paper, scissors… which I quite enjoy but is not the case.

At first, there was gonna be an embroidered perforated line all the way around but we 86’d that.

One thing that I particularly like about this collaboration was that the hightop is only available at certain Nike SB accounts and not online (in the UK, at least). If you want the shoe, you have to go to a physical skate shop, put your money on the counter and buy them in person. No purchasing multiple pairs online and reselling them on eBay later on. Was this a stipulation from you or was it something that the guys at Nike suggested?

That was something the Nike guys suggested and I loved it. Those guys are pretty good with this whole shoe-selling thing.

Seriously though, there is a misconception about the people involved with Nike and while I can’t speak for the whole company, everyone I’ve met in the SB division have been straight-up, life-long skaters that still very passionate about it. Most of whom either formerly or currently still work for a lot of the board companies these doubting Thomases think of as their favorites.

Time to throw a few facts into the mix for the sneaker fans out there: do you have any idea how many pairs have been produced of both models?

Oh man… I don’t know. The low is actually all Blender and I don’t have anything to do with that one. The high is mine and I believe it’s a “quickstrike”. Not really sure on the numbers.

Sorry sneaker fans.

I’ll make up a number then, just to screw up anyone searching for facts to include in their eBay listings: 1730 pairs. How long did the process take from initial concept through to final production models?

It took a year from Rob’s initial call to when I actually saw the finished product. I had the concept the first night we talked… we ironed out the materials a little after the first sample but pretty much everything was done real early. Really the only thing that changed from the first model was making the swoosh rubber.

I’ve heard that the waiting is the hardest part. They’re right.

Are there any production samples out there that didn’t make the final cut? Perhaps a bright yellow NTS-inspired model or a 540° Prototype with a lace saver?

Not that I know of… though I did have that idea for the prototype with the lacesaver. Maybe that can be the Trashfilter Dunk.

I’ll hit you up when Nike get in touch. It may be too early to ask this, but are there any plans for a follow-up project?

No plans as of yet. I can’t believe I got the chance for the first go-around to be honest with you.

“That Nov. ’95 TWS is definitely a good one. Guy, Koston, Ari portfolio…

Honestly, the only other ones that really stand out for me personally are the first few issues of TWS and Thrasher I bought when I had just started skating.

Everything was just so new and fresh. Just being bombarded by all that creativity”

“This one always hurts my head… ”

Gonz – Video Days

Mike Carroll – Questionable

Guy Mariano – Mouse

Henry Sanchez – Pack of Lies

Ricky Oyola – Eastern Exposure 3

(I really wish I could fit Gino’s Trilogy part in there…)

Duane Pitre’s Olives

Blender’s Coffee Break

Lance Mountain Future Primitive

Mark Gonzales Gonz N Roses with the suit…

-tie-Rodney Mullen’s Summer of 92 with the boobs or 101 Gabe Rodriguez vs Crusher

“Not sure what it is about this shot… maybe Neil’s scowl. Whatever it is, I still want a Volvo to this day. Some people’s genius transcend the act of riding a board with wheels and Blender has always been that dude for me.”

“This is the one right here. Something about this ad… perfect. Probably the main reason that I started Chrome Ball is that one day I tried to find this ad online and I couldn’t.”

“I honestly can’t say that this is one of my favorite ads… but it obviously made an impression.”

“This photo is perfect. The end.”

“This is another one of those where I’m not exactly sure what it means, but I honestly hope I never find out.

I think I’ve told this story a billion times over on the site but I saw J.lee skate at a demo in Columbus, Ohio in ’90 (he took Jeremy Klien’s place on the tour, who evidently had gotten sick) and he remains the best skater I’ve ever seen in person. The loudest ollie to boards and ollie to tails ever… and the tre flips were decent, too.

He was one of my favorite skaters at the time and he totally lived up to my damn-near-impossible 12-year-old kid expectations.

I got his autograph three separate times that day.”

“I was a huge Quim fan back in the day, sideways tan cap and the whole nine… regardless of his brand of department store shoes these days, he still gets the pass with me.

CBI trivia for those who care: the blog was almost named ‘blood, sweat and lampshades’ but was changed at the last minute because I thought the reference was too obscure… because ‘chrome ball incident’ is so obvious. I never said I was smart.”

“This is in the first skateboard mag I ever bought, TWS Feb 86. I remember being blown away by the artwork and not even knowing for a while there after that Lance actually skated too. The creativity I found in that first skatemag I ever picked up is still inspiring to this day.”

“I’ve often heard that whenever Gonz and Natas would go streetskating at this time with other pros that our heroes often felt they were speaking another language and inevitably the visting pros would resort to sitting down and watching. This spread from ’87, for me at least, demonstrates that point perfectly. ”

“Because it’s fucking Cardiel.”

“My favorite cover of all-time. Just the timing of it… street skating was blowing up, the fuse was lit on the timebomb MC and Slap was a fresh new magazine. Everything seemed possible.

I’m actually supposed to be working on MC interview questions right now but I’m typing this… I guess I should probably go.”

Sneaker Tokyo vol.2 | Hiroshi Fujiwara | Shoes Master book

hiroshi fujiwara

There’s no point pretending that there was some higher-level theology drawing me towards this book: Hiroshi is undoubtedly a clever guy, but it’s his aesthetic awareness that is so appealing. Without having looked through this book, I knew it would be packed with lots of images that would have me drooling – the accompanying text is almost a bonus.

Hiroshi runs through his sneaker archives by brand, featuring the usual players along the way but also throwing a few curveballs in too. I didn’t expect to see Northwave, Airwalk and Timberland sandals in amongst the Nike and adidas gems, but that just adds to the book’s appeal.

I’m a huge fan of Hiroshi’s design contributions, so it’s nice to see pictures of his HTM (Hiroshi, Tinker Hatfield and Mark Smith’s collaborative series for Nike) models and the Fragment designs. The Footscape pages in particular are great to see and the small glimpse into the Monotone series from 2001 should inspire some people to dig those out again.

hiroshi fujiwara

Shoe porn aside, the pages of copy in here are actually pretty interesting: this is far less of a magazine with a hard cover and much more of an actual book compared to some recent publications. There’s documentation of his travels around Asia, with interviews from Hiroki Nakamura (Visvim), Kazuki Kuraishi (adidas) and Takashi Imai (Madfoot) and a nice discussion section with Mark Smith from Nike.

hiroshi fujiwara

Something that would normally grate with me is the use of worn (in some cases heavily worn) shoes, but here it makes perfect sense to feature them. Hiroshi is less of a sneaker collector and far much more of an informed connoisseur and fan.

Another Japan-only publication, thanks to the joys of auction websites, you should be able to locate a copy reasonably easy.

Cult Streetwear | a book by Josh Sims

I’ve got to be brutally honest: while the title of this book is probably the best way to sell it to a mainstream audience, the term ‘streetwear’ makes the bile rise in the back of my throat. Maybe it’s the non-committal nature of the word, maybe it’s because every leisure brand claims to fit into the category… I’m not sure.

But, that said, this book by Josh Sims does include a fairly broad range of brands and goes beyond the usual high street selection. I picked the book up out of curiosity (and the sharp 123 Klan illustration on the cover was certainly another reason) and once I started flicking through, I realised that the content was actually much better than my first assumption. Old, jaded and sceptical: that’s me.

Google the book and you’ll simply find a load of hype blogs copy-and-pasting the press release from the publisher’s website, which isn’t very useful. Let’s take you through some of the contents…

Split into three sections – Streetwear, Sportswear and Workwear – there’s a good selection of brands, profiled in alphabetical order. Kicking off with our friends at Addict, you get a one page bio of the label, with quotes and background information, before launching into a series of spreads showing design elements, garment shots and other interesting paraphernalia.

Other featured brands in the streetwear section include A Bathing Ape, Fuct, Goodenough, Maharishi, Neighborhood, One True Saxon, Stussy, Triple 5 Soul and X-Large. There’s a great section on Zoo York, which shows some of their old adverts (pre-Ecko involvement), along with some board graphics and I liked the unexpected Mambo showcase, with the page of original display cards and adverts too.

Moving into the Sportswear area, we kick off with a little section on adidas, before moving to Burton (the snowboard brand, not the UK high street retailer), Converse, Fred Perry, Lacoste, Nike, Puma and Vans. Nothing really unexpected in there, but it’s well-chosen and nice to see all in one book for once. The Workwear section is one of the most interesting (if short) parts: I liked seeing the Carhartt catalogue covers from the ’60s and the Dickies pages particularly.

The book doesn’t try to cram misinformed statements or cultural observations down your throat, preferring to stay factual and present easy-to-digest breakdowns. For that reason alone, I think it’s well worth picking up – a real asset to the bookshelves.

The only copy-and-pasting I’m willing to do on here are the book details, so here they are for you:
Paperback / 900 illustrations / 208 pages
292 x 220 mm / ISBN 978 1 85669 651 7

Nike SB | Fluff book

I have to be honest – although I consider myself pretty well-informed in anything skate-related, this book initially confused me. A little exploration and research quickly informed me that Fluff is a respectable skate mag based in Holland, with a little more focus on creativity than most other magazines. Flick through a copy of the mag and you’ll notice that photography is given a priority over pages and pages of text.

So it’s very appropriate that Nike SB collaborated with the Fluff guys to create this incredibly impressive promotional book. My buddies Ray and Pete sourced us a copy (thanks!) to check out on Trashfilter and I’ve spent the past couple of weeks combing through the weighty lexicon: at 610 pages in length, it’s incredibly heavy (we’re talking around 4-5kg) and will give you dead-leg syndrome quicker than a long-haul aeroplane flight.

Photographer Marcel Veldman was given creative freedom to give his insight into the 19 European countries that form the background behind the visuals. You get plenty of full-bleed action, lots of great sequences and enough text to give you something to sit and read once your retinas retain their focus.

A very limited (ie. a rumoured 12 pairs per country, to coincide with regional exhibition spaces) Nike Bruin model was created as well, in a very nice light grey suede and canvas combination: the as-expected ‘overnight queue’ system kept the hype levels at a premium. Standing outside a closed store overnight in the depths of February’s icy conditions shows dedication!

The book must have taken a hell of a lot of hard work to compile and in some ways it’s a shame that it seems to be a limited item, considering the amount of skaters who’d probably like to own a copy. That said, it’s free (seriously!) and there do seem to be copies available through selected skate stores, so check if your local skate store has any left.

Check out the Nike SB Fluff website for more information.

80s Casuals | book review

I’d read that the 80s Casuals book was coming, but it was my ex-colleague Mr. Warnett who ensured that I dug into my pockets and purchased a copy with his own excellent write-up. Like him, I’m not a by-product of the casual movement, but that certainly doesn’t mean that the appreciation of fine clothing and footwear isn’t of interest. The closest I ever had to a living reference was my own uncle. His love of Sergio Tacchini, Fiorucci, Lacoste, Fila and adidas influenced my early sport shop trips, before I went the way of Beat Street and focused on a more b-boy aesthetic. That said, my continued obsession in several items (particularly jackets) wasn’t a million miles away from the casual connoisseurs. The working class ethic mirrored my own upbringing to a certain degree: like Gary, my polo shirts were more likely to have a glued-on shark motif rather than a crocodile on them. Mum certainly wasn’t paying £30 for anything credible like that.

Dave Hewitson and Jay Montessori’s labour of love has manifested itself in this great collection of images, facts and stories. There’s a foreword from director Nick Love, which seems fitting after his recent ‘The Firm’ revisit, and a short introduction before you get right into things with the adidas footwear section. Trimm-Trab, the eponymous Lendl range and the obvious Forest Hills are all featured (amongst many), with some great in-situ photos and classic advert scans. I’m all for nice clean product shots, but seeing the shoes in the casual environment really helps to tell the story of the movement. There are a couple of great pages about the Wade Smith store, which took me back to begging friends to find me pairs of Gazelles when heading up to Liverpool in the early ’90s: if there was one place in the UK that defined the term ‘treasure trove’, this was the spot.

Seeing one of my top three shoes ever with its own page was another highlight. The Nike Omega Flame didn’t immediately strike me as being a model that tied in to this world, but my personal memories of the shoe are of trying to convince my parents that my 8-year-old size 3 foot would be ‘fine’ in the size 9 display model in the shop. I’m still on the hunt for a reasonably-priced pair.

Clothing quite rightly takes up the remainder of the book, with pages and pages dedicated to tracksuits, jackets and denim. Flicking through brought back memories of queuing for Chipie and Chevignon, whilst the Stone Island crew left me a little confused: I knew I liked the jackets, but at that time I had no true cultural reference point for them. I didn’t stand on terraces and I was more likely to be painting the trains rather than catching the 6.57 from Portsmouth.

A good sized book – A4 is always preferable to ‘pocket sized’ – with 168 colour pages, this isn’t a quick flick through. In fact, whilst it probably shouldn’t be classified as a ‘sneaker reference’ book, it’s got more credibility than many publications lumped into that whole genre. Limited to 2000 copies, the £20 price tag should guarantee that it quite rightly sells through quickly. Buy your copy from here: http://www.80scasuals.co.uk/book.html

Personal Effects | Hiroshi Fujiwara

When you’ve been crowned ‘the Godfather of streetwear’ by your contemporaries and followers, you’ve got a lot to live up to. And if anyone is going to qualify themselves for the accolade, then Hiroshi Fujiwara is probably a pretty good contender. His work for various brands over the past years has often been interesting and his attention to detail and thought process is something to aspire to. Add to that, he’s a very personable chap as well: he popped into the old Unorthodox Styles/Crooked Tongues office back in 2003/2004 along with Nike’s Mark Parker and Tinker Hatfield and we enjoyed meeting him.

This little book is nothing more conceptual than a little visual list of some of Hiroshi’s favourite items that he’s picked up. And when I say ‘items’, it’s as broad as it gets. You get a page of text (in both Japanese and English) and a photographic plate of each item, which ranges from technical Burton jackets, through to Gibson guitars and even his favourite elastic bands and artificial sweetener! Something like this could easily be a tasteless display of self-indulgence from others, but the little descriptions and the feeling of passion behind the selections makes for a very interesting snapshot of Hiroshi’s world.

Although this seems to be a Japan-only release, it doesn’t seem too hard to find if you have a quick search online.

Made For Skate: The Illustrated History Of Skateboard Footwear

I had the chance while I was still involved with Crooked Tongues to go to (and report on, alongside Mr. Warnett) the launch of the UK excursion of the ‘Made For Skate’ exhibition over in East London’s Brick Lane. After being introduced to Jürgen Blümlein and Daniel Schmid from ‘Made For Skate’, it was clear that this wasn’t just some backslapping endeavour for a major sportswear brand. These guys were skaters, had a genuine personal history in the skate scene and were trying their best to give an accurate account of skateboarding footwear.

At the time, at Crooked, we’d toyed with the idea of doing a sequel to the ‘Sneakers: the Complete Collectors’ Guide’, but perhaps purely about skate footwear and its influence – and to be fair, I was one of the people who discredited that idea. It just seemed too much of a job, and remembering the experiences I’d had when writing the first volume, it was going to take a lot of time to hunt down the shoes and imagery we’d need to make it a success.

Having seen this book in the flesh, I know we made the right decision. There’s no way we could have put the time in to make something of this calibre. Hopefully without sounding like too much of a cock, I’d say my skate knowledge is pretty good, but this book uncovers a lot of stuff that I’d never seen before.

Sensibly broken down into a generally-accurate timeline structure, the book is a weighty tome, tipping the scales at 400 pages, meaning that you’re not going to speedily flick through a pile of non-contextualised pretty pictures and then leave it on your coffee table. I got sent my copy two weeks ago, and it’s taken me that long to digest the contents.

I’m strongly adverse to anyone writing about anything to do with skating, unless they had some form of direct relationship with it, but this book was put together by the right kind of people. It’s not perfect, but it’s not going to be bettered for quite some time either.

Having spent a fair bit of time analysing the content, overall, it’s a really impressive effort. A slight German bias in places doesn’t spoil the writing, but it’s noticeable and there are several sections where I’m wondering if anything was lost in translation. It’s clear in places that different people have composed different sections of the text, due a significant switch in writing style.

The imagery and photography is pretty amazing: lots of archive ads pulled from old skate magazines, plenty of photos of rare shoes (albeit some absolutely battered to death!) and plenty of background content I’d never seen before.

There’s a heavy Sole Technology presence, which is a credit to them and their position in the world of skating, but I’d have loved to have heard a bit more from DC Shoes, DVS and Lakai instead of so much emphasis on the early era of skate footwear. I think a slight expansion on the past decade’s brands might resonate a little better with the audience who this book is aimed at.

That said, some of the old stories about particular times and photos are terrific: if you ever wondered the reason why four of the five handplanting Bones Brigade members were wearing Air Jordans at the Animal Chin ramp, well, that story’s in here. As is the story about who was scheduled to have the first professional shoe before Natas Kaupas. The background behind the Nike vs. Consolidated battle is laid out as well, which is amusing and interesting.

I liked the various sections on some of the brands that got lost in the ether over time and it would have been nice to hear some of the reasons why the shoes didn’t succeed from the people who bought them and were riding them (for example, I was getting sent free pairs of Axions in the mid ’90s – and, in my opinion, the real reason they didn’t take off was that the visible air bubbles continually blew out!). This slight gap is fortunately filled with words from the shoe designers and the pros who endorsed the shoes, so it’s not a deal breaker in the end.

It’s a big heavy book as mentioned above and that comes at a price that might keep it out of the hands of those who would most like to own it. At £40 (in the UK), it’s not likely to reach the full audience it deserves until it’s reprinted in paperback unfortunately. The special edition Nike SB slip cover version (and the limited-to-24-pairs hyperstrike edition Nike Blazer shoe sent to special people only) let’s those in the loop know who may have helped out – and fair play to Nike for stepping in and supporting something as adventurous as this.

Overall, this is a great book well worth the space on your coffee table. Go visit the guys over at Made For Skate and send in your own stories and images to keep this important archive and resource growing.

Nike SB and Freestylin’ Magazine’s ‘Generation F’ BMX Book

It’s all too easy to say, ‘Oh yeah – I was down with XYZ back in the day’, when in reality you had nothing to do with any aspect of it. With various brands muscling their way into the numerous subcultures, a number of interesting projects have gained attention far wider than they would have within their insular little scenes. Whether that’s for good or bad, I’m not totally sure yet, but it’s interesting to watch.

Nike’s last foray into the world of ‘extreme sports’ (sorry to use that term, but in reality that’s going to be the best way to describe the genre to any outsiders) had them finally cracking the skate angle properly, developing a solid range of products and forming a second-to-none team (OK… maybe Lakai or DVS deserve this crown). So when we heard that they were making in-roads into BMX, I was quietly confident that it’d be done nicely. And it was.

The shoes were interesting enough, but I’ll get back to those shortly. The focus of this editorial is the amazing promotional book that announced the launch of the project. Nike SB’s John Martin asked Mark Lewman (I could go off on a tangent here and break down this man’s participation within so many of the interests I’ve had over the years, but I’ll let you Google this yourself) a loaded question: if he could do anything for a BMX-related project, what would he do? Lewman reunited the ‘Freestylin’ magazine editorial team (that’d be Spike Jonze and Andy Jenkins, in case you were wondering) and between them, they put together an incredible outline of the pioneering days of freestyle BMX.

Editorial articles would’ve been good enough, but they tracked down the original riders and interviewed them all individually, giving an incredibly interesting series of personal accounts. If you ever had the fortune to read ‘Freestylin’ back in the day (or ‘Club Homeboy’ …or ‘Loft’… or any of their editorial produce), then this is the equivalent of the last issue ever. But in hardback. I’ll throw my controlled demeanour aside for just a second and just say it’s fucking awesome.

Kicking off the interviews is the founder of freestyle, Bob Haro. Other than a couple of recent Nike-related publicity interviews with Bob, I didn’t really know too much about what he’d been up to in recent years, so this was a treat. The same with the Mike Dominguez, Maurice Meyer and Craig Campbell sections, which I re-read as soon as I’d finished: these were the guys who were on the posters on my wall when I was 8 or 9 years old. Eddie Fiola, Kevin Jones, Brian Blyther, Ron Wilkerson… the list of legends featured goes on and on and on. Obviously, Hoffman is there as well.

I wish that Dave Vanderspek, Neil Ruffell, Pepi Winder and the other lost comrades could have been with us to have seen this. It’s amazing how this first wave of riders pioneered freestyle for all subsequent bikers ever since. Reading Joe Johnson’s account on his first tailwhip airs or about Wilkerson’s infamous crash (which left him comatose) filled me with awe and nostalgia. It’s not hard to find new-found respect for many of the riders who seemingly ‘disappeared’ from the scene, only to find they’d stuck to their morals, ditched their sponsors – and continued to ride for their own pleasure. Josh White is a perfect example.

The nice introductory letter and the tongue-in-cheek subscription card inserted into the pages made me smile. It’s precisely this attention to detail that makes a project like this stand out so much; instead of stamping their mark throughout the entire book, Nike let these guys do what they do best with minimum interference.

The only criticism I have for such an impressive project is the distribution. Limited edition projects are all well and good, but when something that’s as culturally important and interesting as this, I think it should be available to anyone who wants a copy. 2500 copies were printed, each with a nice box, but when you see multiple copies being flung up on eBay by the same sellers and then hear that a riding legend such as Dave Voelker didn’t get given a copy, you have to question the fairness. In short, if you weren’t connected (or lucky), you were going to have to pay the resellers prices to get a copy. Looking at my parents attic full of my old bike mags and dad’s garage strewn with my broken bicycle and skate parts, I had no real choice but to give in and buy one. I actually ended up unintentionally buying two copies after forgetting to cancel an auction bid – and gave my spare copy to my man C-Law over in Portland, because I knew he’d love this. To make it clear, I doubt anyone’s blaming Lew, Spike and Jenkins for the limited availability, but I’m sure I’m not alone in hoping that they follow this up with a widely-available sequel sooner rather than later.

I spent the next three evenings reading this book from cover to cover. Might as well ditch the nice box that it came in, as this is going to be picked up again and again. I’ll get to the shoes the book was intended to promote in a later post, which makes me wonder if I’m doing things the way they were intended by the people at Nike… Hmmm.

Courtesy of 23mag.com (seriously guys, thanks for this), here’s the entire book as an online flick-through. It might just tip you over the edge.