Tag: "shoes"

ASICS x Hanon Gel Lyte lll ‘Wildcats’

ASICS x Hanon Gel Lyte lll Wildcats

It feels like ASICS spent a long time as observers when the collaborative craze kicked off. The PROPER crew did an incredible job on their 2007 GT-II shoe – definitely one of the best running shoe co-labs to come out – but since then the spotlight has remained on the Gel Lyte III. A lightweight runner that initially confused non-athletes by having an unusual split tongue, it wasn’t until Patta and Ronnie Fieg began playing with the multitude of panels that the masses began to take notice. And take notice they did. Look back at any of the recent ASICS releases and you’ll see roadblocks, crashed servers and campouts were the order of the day.

ASICS x Hanon Gel Lyte lll Wildcats

For Scotland’s Hanon Shop, up in the glorious city of Aberdeen, things got switched up a little more than usual for their latest ASICS collaboration. Instead of simply colouring-in existing panels, there’s a reworking of fabrics and construction that makes the Wildcats totally unique. I first saw preview images of these back in the summer and made a mental note to keep an eye out for them. Sitting in front of the computer, refreshing relentlessly isn’t an easy task when you’re stuck at work, but if one shoe this year was going to be worth the effort, then this was probably it.

ASICS x Hanon Gel Lyte lll Wildcats

The name Wildcats is a nod to Hanon’s local running club of the same name and the mustard and burgundy fits perfectly with the ‘Keeps On Burning’ Hanon branding. As a sidenote, this toasty colourway works wonders as the temperature drops here in the UK. There’s also a little something in these that reminds me of my Raleigh Burner BMX bike – count that as another plus point.

ASICS x Hanon Gel Lyte lll Wildcats

ASICS x Hanon Gel Lyte lll Wildcats

Dropping the usual toebox and upgrading it for a punched suede adds a little extra protection against the elements and upgrades things to a deluxe level. 3M stripes, dual branding on the tongue and the collar lining are all contributing elements that make this perhaps the best ASICS co-lab we’ve seen to date. And, reading the frantic tweets and forum posts since they dropped at Hanon on the 28th October, it seems that there are lots of people out there who’d agree.

Big thanks to Ed at Hanon for the hook-up.

ASICS x Hanon Gel Lyte lll Wildcats

Addict footwear | Addict Scout shoe

Addict footwear Scout model

There’s rarely a situation where you can’t find an appropriate pair of sneaks to wear, but I’m starting to realise that broadening the wardrobe selection a little bit probably isn’t a bad idea. But, seriously, finding a decent style of shoe to wear isn’t very easy. I’ve got a pair of Clarks Wallabees for weddings/funerals/court hearings and some very similar-looking Paul Smith shoes for the same thing, but they’re a bit too… smart.

So when C-Law got loose with the new range of casual footwear at Addict, it was inevitable he’d be conjuring up something I’d actually like to own. Let me introduce you to the Addict Scout model.

Addict footwear Scout model

Those of you familiar with Japan’s well-respected Visvim brand will definitely draw similarities to their FBT model: there’s a trainer-style sole, a similar silhouette and suede uppers. But unless you’re happy to drop several hundred dollars on those, you’re not going to be getting a pair.

Rather than a straight facsimile, C-Law and Addict spiced things up and gave it their own twist. You’ve still got the comfortable shape, but things are simplified by leaving the ‘skirt’ off and focusing on other eras. I wouldn’t normally be down for any desert boot styles – a foot like a dirty Cornish pasty has never looked good – but these are about as far away from that as you could get. These have a refined shape but still show enough chunk to know they won’t fall apart in the first ten minutes.

Addict footwear Scout model

The D-ring lacing system is perfect for speedy fastening (with nice waxed laces) and the tongue takes aspects of sneaker comfort but looks a little more fresh with a really nice suede label. one thing that I think is really nice (albeit slightly unimportant), is that the packaging really looks quality. It’s clear that you’re getting something nice as soon as you see the box.

The midsole is EVA with a nice gum outsole for extra style points and it’ll give you enough grip when clambering home from the pub.

Addict footwear Scout model

Addict footwear Scout model

I’ve just started wearing them and although some people have said they feel quite snug, I’m glad I went a half size down. The best thing to do is try ’em on before you buy ’em. There’s a nice thick insole that actually does its job well and holds your heel well.

In three decent colours and at less than a third of the price of anything similar, you really won’t go wrong with these.

Addict footwear Scout model

You’ll find the Addict Scout in all the usual spots – Crooked Tongues, Size? etc. – but you can read a little more about them on Addict’s own site: http://www.addict.co.uk/products/sku/footwear/scout_desert. Based on these, I’m really looking forwards to seeing next year’s selection from the guys.

adidas Originals x Burton | Ben Pruess & Greg Dacyshyn

It’s a logical and interesting project for both brands to do, but how did the collaboration idea come about? Who approached who?

Ben Pruess: The program was a natural process of looking at how we continue to evolve the brand and work with what our consumers want. We had often spoken about snowboarding in the context of our success with Originals Skateboarding and how this plays into other action sports and other seasons. We focused on product and distribution as they are the real difference between skate and snow. Skate brand do sneakers, decks, t-shirts and goodies, where snowboarding is a hard goods and technical apparel business model. With Skate, our credibility and skill set is natural since we are a leading sneaker and streetwear brand, plus our team is supper solid. With Snow, we didn’t have a hard goods or technical link.

We really wanted to build a new business model to get into these product and distribution areas, and we thought it was a good idea to build a bridge for the consumer to extend the relationship with our brand to an new environment and sport while still playing to our core skills. The idea to work with Burton was a natural one, as a market leader, we wanted to partner with a brand that brought the same level of impact. Burton is the leader and arguably the founder of snowboarding, as we are in the world of sports. In the end I think Burton also felt like a natural fit, as they seek to push opportunities to extend their brand into the street in an impactful way.

How did you approach this project, in terms of the creative process? I’ve seen previous adidas snow product, such as the Forum-inspired boot, but this is a little different.

The approach was pretty simple; we identified what we saw as a clear white space in the market and worked to use both our brands skill set in a combined way to fill this gap. The idea was about “transition product”. The brief was: what do you want and need after riding to look good and feel good? What do you want to wear – après-ski? What do you want to put your feet into after you get out of your boots? And what makes the whole collection work with style so it’s cooler than just wearing your hill gear on the street?

The Forum boot was something very different; we only made 50 pairs and just did it for fun. It was never for sale but just used as a gift to friends. The idea back then was simple: we wanted to build a 3-stripe boot to ride in to rep the brand.

Were there many existing adidas technologies used when it came to developing the product range? Or did you need to look further afield?

Both adidas and Burton have great histories of innovation for sport, so we had no lack of tools in the shed. Once we knew what was needed, we looked for the right technologies. It was more about sharing needs on how best to solve the brief vs. being lead by pushing any existing technologies.

Who handled the design of the products for this project? Was it a 50/50 effort from both brands?

It was a very collaborative process. We had about 4 design meetings in the process to brainstorm, present concepts and review. We each brought our own creative assets to the table. We brought our archive and clear visual language as well. Burton played to their strengths on the apparel side – bringing cuts, details, construction that they have pioneered with their great creativity on prints and graphics. We brought the sneaker and footwear knowledge and leadership of sportswear items, like track tops and pants. In the end it was really a 50-50 effort to reflect a real balance of influences.

Is it difficult to appease the core snowboarding crowd when creating something that will undoubtedly still need to appeal to a wider market?

Ben Pruess: Having worked in the action sports industry long enough, our team knew that the first rule is not to try and be something you are not. You have to be real. That was our approach; make great products that represent two leading brands in an open and honest way. We did not go out to make the ‘most core product’ – just great authentic products that the consumer would like.

Originals is one of the largest streetwear brands in the world because we are an open and accessible brand. We don’t want to exclude people, but rather invite them to use us as part of how they express and style themselves. This is what makes us an icon in the world of streetwear and allows us to go from the trend-setting top to a wider, more mainstream market. This product shares in that approach. It is what it is; great stylish product for hanging out after riding, not trying to be anything it isn’t. In the end, it makes things genuine. We see this as a value most consumers respect more then just “being” core. Burton’s in a similar place – they are the leading brand in snowboarding, they are the most credible because they remain true to the sport and market they helped create.

How was the work handled internally at adidas? Did the US team handle the design on this project, or was the work distributed between Portland and Herzo? If so, was there much going back and forth?

Almost all the design work was done in the Portland office; it was easier to do it there for obvious reasons. Time, testing and consumer insight are just better aligned working with partners in the US. We did develop the product in a few locations, tapping into our Japanese team that does Kazuki ObyO because they had the best skills on the more technical apparel.

Were there any concepts or products that didn’t make it to the production line for this project?

We designed the range a bit bigger then we needed to just so we could review and edit. Sure, some of the products hit the cutting room floor but it was all about selecting the best offer for the range size we wanted. I feel like most of the ideas we wanted made it into the line in some way. Of course some others did not make it, but that’s how it goes.

Is this intended to be a one-off project or is there scope for it to grow and develop down the line?

Right now it’s just a one-season project. We did not want to force any long term or contractual obligations on to each other. We did this program because we thought it was a genuinely good fit and one that would make some great product. As brands we have a good relationship so the door is open for us to work on future programs together. Right now we are happy to see this collection hit the market and gain some positive feedback.

Burton has always led the way in terms of snow sport equipment and apparel: as a top-tier brand, there is clearly no need to work with anyone else. With that in mind, how did you approach the collaboration with adidas to create this special range of footwear and apparel?

Greg Dacyshyn: Both myself and Ben Pruess of adidas have a long history in snowboarding. So our two brands got together through this common interest.

How does the range of products differ from your normal output? Were there any particular differences in design or construction when putting these pieces together?

The range was co-designed by my Burton Creative Team with the adidas Originals Team and features the adidas Originals Trefoil as well as Burton branding. The footwear styles were primarily designed by the adidas design team, benefiting from their history in the footwear business and expertise in production and quality execution. In return, all the apparel styles were designed by us (Burton) based on adidas Originals silhouettes, blending the adidas look with the visual language and design aesthetics of Burton.

I’ve always viewed Burton as a particularly creative brand, both in terms of the products and the brand communications. Diffusion lines, such as the [ak] range, and the artist projects (Futura, Stash, Mark Ward, Geoff McFetridge amongst many others) have always added something special, rather than dilute things. How does the process work to continually maintain this level of creativity? Is there a Burton ‘think tank’ – or are you always open for people to approach you with ideas

There’s no standardization to this process. There can’t be. This is art, not graphics-for-hire. We structure our projects in so many different ways. Through the whole thing, feedback is a huge part of the process – whether it comes from our pro riders, customers or employees. Our team riders play a big role here. They all have artists who speak to them or inspire them, so in the case of boards for example, we love to reach out to distinct artists who the team request, and have them collaborate with the individual rider to make a signature board. In other cases like in apparel or outerwear, each season we create distinct stories and collection inspirations that are communicated to the artists in very broad strokes, and then they interpret them in whatever way they are inspired. Lastly, in some cases, we create iconic collaborations like with the Andy Warhol Foundation or Playboy or Ralph Steadman, where we have the honor and privilege to incorporate their work into our products. At the end of the day, we always know that the Burton integrity will be well featured in all of our products, because the partners and artists whom we join up with have a natural affinity to our brand and our DNA. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be on the program.

Was it difficult to keep things levelled towards your core market on this project? It’s clearly functional, but there’s a strong ‘leisure’ aspect to the range too, which differentiates it from everything else at the moment. How did you make sure it still spoke to the core snowboarders out there?

Snowboarders have strong personalities and think for themselves, which is what makes the culture so creative. We thrive off different styles, opinions and directions. There’s no way we can or would want to please every rider with every style. That’s why our product range is so diverse, so individual riders can find something that speaks to them.

This range with adidas reinforces the fact that Burton thinks beyond the actual slopes themselves. You’ve already gained a huge following from a street level (through things such as the Idiom product line), but is this something that’s considered at the start of each new project? Or is it always about the core snow angle to begin with?

We’re a snowboarding company. So every inspiration and design is somehow rooted in that culture.

Were there any concepts or products from the Burton perspective that didn’t make it to the production line for this project?

There are always different rounds of designs in every product development process. But we’re really happy with how the final line turned out.

Many people will already know that you’ve got the perfect credentials to put together a project like the adidas and Burton collaboration: can you break it down for the readers who don’t know? You used to be a professional snowboarder, correct?

Ben Pruess: Yes I was, but to be honest I am not sure being a pro rider more then 20 years ago gave me the perfect credentials. Sure, it played some part, as it was part of the path that led me to where I am now. More important, my continued love of the sport has been what happened after when I join the business side. The value of such a diverse experience working in action sports and streetwear for the past 20 years and the insight it has helped to make this happen.

This was not about me but two iconic brands with great teams working together (An adi group and a talented crew with Greg at Burton) to make a project they felt the market would benefit from. Sure the fact that the core group that worked on this project are riders that helped us to speak knowledgeably to create products consumers would want to wear.

You worked at Salomon before joining adidas Originals: was there much of a transition from being immersed in a performance-orientated brand to steering a respected lifestyle brand?

Working at Salomon was a great experience and I owe a lot to Jean Luc Diard for bringing me into that team. They thought about the performance side and the hard goods side of product marketing; it was all about feature and benefit and consumer performance. This helped a lot when I went on to manage Bonfire, as the technical apparel game is very similar. What was also clear from the start was the understanding that success in snowboarding doesn’t come from purely a performance point of view. Snowboarding, like all action sports is first an emotional approach and a lifestyle. Without making a commitment to this side of our market, you will never create a meaningful offer. In snow or skate, looking good and feeling good go hand in hand. Being real is more important then how you think about buying into a brand. Great product is important but without a credible approach is doesn’t matter. This is why even some brands that make technically superior products don’t successfully make it to market. Working on making sure Salmon or Bonfire lived up to what it meant to be a real snowboard and lifestyle brand allowed me to develop the skills needed to find the transition to streetwear so easy. Very few brands are as emotionally connected to street and pop culture as adidas Originals. It really is the original lifestyle brand.

I know that you’ve answered this question before (specifically in your Sneaker Freaker interview a while back), but what advice would you give to someone wanting to get into the industry?

Know what it is that you want to do in this business and why you think it’s for you. Understand that it is a business and whether you’re a designer or a marketer, that’s what success will be judged on. You need to know from the start that if you work for a big brand, a start-up or a shop that this is not an art project or 24/7 fun and games. It takes work, passion and a willingness to listen to what consumers want. It is a great career that can allow your creativity to be seen. Ultimately it can and will expose you to great people and give you the chance for a professional life so that you never give up on the things you enjoy.

Obviously, this interview will be on our website, but I’m from a traditional media background originally – and that’s something I always want to keep an eye on. Whilst I like a lot of the news sites and blogs, my aim to try and create a lot of timeless content that will be just as interesting to read five years down the line. What do you think about how information is communicated these days?

I think that there is a real need to be aware of the relationship of speed versus value. It is a trade off that many consumers are happy to make right now, but at what expense, I don’t know. I see a risk in the disposability of content, both products as well as media.

At the same time, the ability to react and effect so quickly has a huge positive result. In the end, I think we will get a better understanding and respect for what each approach offers and not try to replace one or the other but rather nurture both. Unfortunately I think we will have to go though a period of serious disposability before consumers realize what they miss when time is not given to refine a thought on a product. After so many shoes, many that we still love today would not have become the classics had the market not been patent enough to allow them to develop. Same holds true for music: many people say that we will not see brands like The Stones or GNR be able to become the icons they did because the market does not allow the time any more.

Greg, could you break down your personal and professional background? I’ve read about your early interest in sneakers (before the term ‘sneaker culture’ even existed) and how you became interested in fashion and design along the way. Did you consciously set out to become involved in the design industry?

Greg Dayshyn: To be honest, I’ve had some pretty eclectic experiences. From urban bike courier, snowboard and sneaker store hustler and philosophy student to Russian military conversion consultant, I can’t really pin down a linear path to here. But what I can say is that everything I’ve done in my life led me to getting here. I have always been a boardsports and street culture junkie, and that combined with a passion for design, international business and love of the Burton brand all came together in getting me here.

When I came in, all creative was sourced outside of Burton, and so with my love and background for design I started doing my own designs and taking the initiative, and then wrote my own job description. I turned it into the job I wanted, not the job I had. Sometimes people have their head down and they’re working so hard that they can’t see it that way – but you have to make your own opportunities But beyond that I don’t look back. It’s about what’s next, personally and professionally.

Were you always interested in snowboarding? Were there any other sports or pastimes you were interested in that shaped or influenced your career?

It really all started with skateboarding for me. I was into it from the beginning. I loved the whole counter culture, and the vibe and the lifestyle, and the new crop of athletic heroes that it created. I was never huge into the team sport thing. I did the prerequisite ‘football at middle school’ type thing, and a little bit of hockey (hey, I’m Canadian), but for the most part it’s always been about individual sports. Cruising on my bike or skateboard back in the day, that’s where it was at. Then snowboarding came along, and it just fitted me perfectly. It was super fun and cruisy and had the surf feel, and I learned with all my family and friends at the same time. So it just instantly became a lifestyle for me, and even though I lived in the city (Toronto) at the time, I would head up north every weekend to snowboard, and started taking riding trips out west for more snow and then finally found my way to Vermont which has an awesome local snowboard scene.

What does your day to day routine at work look like? Are you involved very much with the design team?

To start, I am waging a protest against the intrusion of alarm clocks. Really, why do we need to be on such a schedule all the time? Let’s just do our thing and it will work out. Unless you’re catching a flight, and then a clock can save your ass…. I keep a sick vintage Cartier travel clock just for that purpose. But I think the workday should start mid to late morning and then go well into the night. That’s when true inspiration comes anyway. And as for how it works with my team, I am really hands-on. My day is literally full of product reviews and product talk, covering all phases in the development timeline, for all categories. So it could be looking at board graphics one meeting, then outerwear designs or sales samples at the next, then it will be a conference call with an artist or designer or potential partner for something that could hit in two years. It really makes for a diverse day which is both challenging and rewarding.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to get into the snowboard design industry? I can imagine it’s quite a competitive environment…

I think the design industry is very unique. Some careers are a defined skill set that could progress in status/skill/rank. And some careers are strictly about managing others with that skill set. But in product or in creative, there really is an opportunity to do both. You can be the artist, and/or you can be the one who manages the artist. There have been designers who want to design and those who want to manage and in creative you can take either path. I like being a blend of both, so that my actual DNA is built into the products, while also being on the directional end of managing a team of designers. With experience comes the ability to choose your path. As far as newcomers to the industry you just have to be patient. And don’t assume that you have to get into a brand only through the product department, because that is where you ultimately want to end up. Be willing to get in the door however you can, ie., through customer service, retail, internships, etc., and then make sure you get on the radar of the Creative and Product teams. Ultimately, you’ll get in if you earn it. But check your ego at the door. Being humble is a key requirement of success in product design and development.

Obviously, this interview will be on our website, but I’m from a traditional media background originally – and that’s something I always want to keep an eye on. Whilst I like a lot of the news sites and blogs, my aim to try and create a lot of timeless content that will be just as interesting to read five years down the line. What do you think about how information is communicated these days?

The world is a small place these days; in fact, it’s about the size of your 11 inch laptop screen. Everything is accessible to anyone. The fringe is the mainstream. So you have to work harder to stay on top of it, and stay ahead of it. For me, pop culture, global news and current events come from everything around me and everyone around me. Get outside your comfort zone. Travel. Don’t be “anti-TV” when we thrive in youth culture. Don’t be afraid to get into movies, books and magazines outside of your industry. Think big. Get inspired. Play hard. And in the end, inspiration, quality and integrity will never be out of style.

Emerica ‘Stay Gold’ | DVD review

emerica stay gold

It’s been a long time coming and the ads over the past 18 months have certainly fueled our expectant minds, but Emerica’s ‘Stay Gold’ certainly lives up to the promise. I don’t usually venture out to skate film premieres these days (the last one I went to was probably ‘Public Domain’ at the National Film Theatre in 1989), but I actually wanted to see this one in the cinema. Well, unlucky me: a prearranged client meeting put paid to any leisure activities on the evening of 26th August. Messageboards blew up with news and early reports and I did my best to ignore leaked footage and spoilers so that I could approach viewing with a clear mind. You have no idea how difficult this was.

I wouldn’t normally pay for a download – call me ‘old school’, but having the physical DVD is far more appealing when it comes to parting with money – but I dropped the £5.99 via iTunes and purchased an official copy of ‘Stay Gold’. A physical copy is on the way, and I’ll update this review when it arrives, but in the meantime let’s run through the feature presentation.
(Big thanks to Tom at Sole Tech for dropping me the DVD in the mail: see the bottom of this review for a DVD-specific additional section)

Firstly, it may or may not surprise you to find out that this is unofficially Heath Kirchart’s retirement video. The guy’s smashed it for years (I first saw him in Birdhouse’s ‘Ravers’ back in ’93) and when you look at what he’s accomplished since then, he’s been at the top of his game for the best part of a decade. Read the full run-through of Heath’s part towards the end of this page.

emerica stay gold

The opening sequence is slick. I really like the combination of Jon Miner and Mike Manzoori behind the cameras and the edit desk: the result is far more cinematic than a lot of other skate films and easier to stomach on repeated viewings. Handdrawn typography, the green tint to the footage and other devices such as vignetting and careful use of slow motion gives a relaxed and immersive feel. One thing I had heard was that the video was tough going in places because of the repeated hammers being thrown left, right and centre. Whilst that’s true to certain extent, there’s enough variety from section to section to keep things interesting.

emerica stay gold

Brandon Westgate. Jesus Christ. What an opening section. I’d seen a fair bit of him (the Zoo York DVD springs to mind), but this section elevates him to a new level. On the topic of elevation, he’s a contender for having the biggest pop out of anyone at the moment. Comparing him to Busenitz or Cardiel is being lazy, but there are definite similarities: confidence, speed and style being three common characteristics they all share. My favourite trick of his section? Probably the massive driveway/rail clearance when he’s bombing the hills of San Francisco. Seriously impressive.

Bryan Herman follows with an entire block’s worth of kickflip nose manual and some schoolyard picnic-table/bench destruction before his section truly starts. Big rails and big tricks all popped and landed solidly. The hardflip at Bercy in Paris was particularly insane. Marquis Preston doesn’t seem to be restricted by his choice in drainpipe trousers: lots of large steps and rails get annihilated in his part. Spanky’s section – Kevin Long, to his parents – is short but good fun (the backside tailslide bigspin out on the brick banks was smooth and being able to cry on command is fairly unique) and Collin Provost shows that he can cruise a skatepark properly and drop some ridiculous tricks into the mix as well (the 270° ollie flip into the painted red bank was amazing). Little Jamie Tancowny starts with a harsh slam before proving that he’s pro material with a part that’s packed with man-sized tricks. I’ve seen enough crooked grinds on handrails to last me a lifetime, but the one down the kinker he does is as good as they get. Aaron Suski… what can you say? A killer part with a mix of power that’s best summed up by the reaction of the schoolchildren when he clears the ramp/rail. This man deserves a pro shoe, in my opinion. Braydon Szafranski might wear some illegal clothes by my standards but damn he can skate: great smooth lines and plenty of big tricks to keep the hammer count high.

Justin ‘Figgy’ Figueroa skates fast and can do every trick you can do on a flatbar but on a full sized handrail. You could sit and pick out individual tricks (his kickflip smith grind, for example), but it’s best watched as a whole part. Jerry Hsu has been plagued with injuries – his opening montage will convince you of that, in case you thought he was being lazy – but what he does show in his short part is amazing. Switch tailslide over the ‘rainbow’ rail was frickin’ incredible.

emerica stay gold

Leo Romero goes up handrails as you might have seen in photos before, but he does a hell of a lot more as well. One of my favourite sections in the whole film, he does some seriously impressive stuff going at mach one: frontside half-cab boardslide to fakie, a sick nosegrind nollie big heel out on a picnic table, a l-o-n-g double kinker 5-0 grind and an amazing 50-50 up a proper handrail at the end. Surpassed my expectations, which were already high enough.

Who else but The Boss could end this one? Andrew Reynolds in ‘Stay Gold’ has one of the best ending parts of any skate video yet. If you’re a fan (and, c’mon, who isn’t?), you can rest assured that you’ll enjoy this one. Speed and energy go without saying, but it’s the style of his skating that makes it so pleasurable to watch. In a video that is crammed full of pneumatic-level hammering, Reynolds follows the formula but makes it look like no-one else’s section. Watch his line with the backside 360 down the stairs and then the kickflip down the next set: if you couldn’t see the stairs, you’d think he was doing them down curbs. A frontside flip down another massive set of stairs is celebrated by having a puff on the lit cigarette he’s holding in his hand. The nonchalance is in override.

The outro and credits show little clips of Chris Senn and Ed Templeton – yeah, I’d hoped for full sections from both, but a little is better than none – before Marisa Dal Santo and Ben Krahn give us a glimpse of their skills.

emerica stay gold

Time for some data:

1) The main feature clocks in at 56 minutes and 47 seconds long.
2) There are numerous Easter Eggs hidden in the DVD: Heath Kerchart’s section is one, a Barrier Kult section is another. There’s also a flow team section, an Andrew Reynolds bonus part, a Euro team section… and probably some other bits hiding in there as well.
3) The deluxe edition of ‘Stay Gold’ comes with a dope book of Ed Templeton’s photography of the Emerica team from the past ten years. I’ll update this review with a breakdown on that when it arrives.

The ‘Stay Gold’ soundtrack is pretty cool. Some mellow guitar stuff and a few heavier bits and pieces, which suits the style of the film perfectly. Data collectors, here’s a full tracklist for you:

‘Stay Gold’ soundtrack: main feature:

Intro Dead Meadow ‘Through The Gates Of The Sleepy Silver Door’
Brandon Westgate Earthless ‘Jull’
Bryan Herman #1 Tom Waits ‘Top Of The Hill’
Bryan Herman #2 Black Sabbath ‘Fairies Wear Boots’
Marquis Preston John Cale ‘Big White Cloud’
Kevin Long Captain Beefheart ‘Electicity’
Collin Provost Dead Meadow ‘Green Sky Green Lake’
Jamie Tancowny Comets on Fire ‘The Swallow’s Eye’
Aaron Suski Flower Travlin’ Band ‘Satori Pt. 2’
Braydon Szafranski Hawkwind ‘We Took The Wrong Steps Years Ago’
Justin Figueroa Dead Meadow ‘That Old Temple’
Jerry Hsu Ultimate Spinach III ‘Somedays You Just Can’t Win’
Leo Romero Mott the Hoople ‘Thunderbuck Ram’
Andrew Reynolds Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros ‘Om Nashi Me’
Credits Earthless ‘No Road To Follow’

‘Stay Gold’ soundtrack: bonus sections and Easter egg soundtrack:

Andrew Reynolds & The Madness #1 Chali 2na ‘4 Be Be’ (Instrumental)
Andrew Reynolds & The Madness #2 Chali 2na ‘Controlled Conscience’ (instrumental)
Andrew Reynolds & The Madness #3 Years ‘Don’t Let The Blind Go Deaf’
Ed Templeton Stay Gold Deluxe Tristeza ‘Golden Hill’
Emerica Europe #1 Graveyard ‘Lost in Confusion’
Emerica Europe #2 Earthless ‘Devil-Eyed Woman’
International Montage Sleep ‘Aquarian’
Heath Kirchart Joy Division ‘Atmosphere’

emerica stay gold

— DVD-specific update!

So the iTunes download is a cheaper alternative for those who want something convenient for the laptop or iPod, but the physical DVD is the way forwards for those who want to wring every last morsel from ‘Stay Gold’. The DVD contents and timings are as follows:

Stay Gold Main Feature: 56:41

Bonus features
Andrew Reynolds And The Madness (DVD bonus): 13:19
Ed Templeton – Stay Gold Deluxe (DVD bonus): 6:18
Emerica Europe (DVD bonus): 8:23
International Montage (DVD bonus): 5:34
Flow Bros (DVD bonus): 7:47

Easter eggs
Heath Kirchart (DVD easter egg): 3:34
Barrier Kult (DVD easter egg): 3:46

You can find Heath Kirchart’s section by doing the following maneuvers with your DVD remote control:

Go to ‘Chapters’ – and then press up.
The highlighted menu link will go away: then press ‘Enter’.
Allow jaw to lower to ground level.

emerica stay gold

The main feature will play as normal, but it’s prefaced with what’s rumoured to be Heath’s last video part of his skating career. And what a part it is. Of the 3 and a half minutes of footage, a good chunk is older footage you’ve already seen in previous videos. That doesn’t matter. All it does is remind us just how amazing Heath was and is.

emerica stay gold

The few new tricks in this section are just as good as you’d expect – the downhill street line only has two ‘basic’ tricks in it, but no-one else could do them like that – and his last trick is… well… just watch it for yourself. He might have a permanent facial expression that looks like someone’s just set fire to his pet dog, but that only adds to the legend. Skating’s gonna miss you.

emerica stay gold

My personal favourite DVD-only part is ‘Andrew Reynolds and the Madness’. I’m a big fan of The Boss (again, someone who I first saw when I picked up Birdhouse’s ‘Ravers’ VHS tape), both as a skater and his personality. The episodes of ‘Epicly Later’d’ with Andrew were some of the best filmed, so to watch another little insight into the man’s character is really interesting stuff. Rather than come across as being weird or eccentric, he shows that no matter how good you are at something, you’re just the same as everyone else in many ways: we’ve all got out own ticks and habits. Watching him land a perfect noseslide 270° out on a handrail repeatedly or the tricks at Bercy again and again and again is amazing. A true perfectionist – and a true professional in the real sense of the word.

emerica stay gold

The Barrier Kult Easter egg part is viewed by following this sequence:

Click into the Bonus menu.
Select ‘Andrew Reynolds and the Madness’ – and then hit ‘left arrow’ and ‘Enter’.
Enjoy.

emerica stay gold

It’s almost 4 minutes of concrete destruction, with bare chests, masks and noisy metal guitars. If this doesn’t induce bedwetting, nothing will. The other bonus sections are just as worthwhile, but picking the entire contents of every section apart is boring to read when you could be watching it for yourself on the TV.

If you care about the future of skate films, then bonus parts and Easter eggs on the DVDs are the way forwards. The iTunes download is great for convenience, but with so many extras on the physical DVD disc, you’d be crazy to turn it down. Not to mention the excellent design and packaging: simple, but premium. ‘Stay Gold’ isn’t one to sit and watch on YouTube or via crappy-quality downloads: you’re shortchanging your experience if that’s how you choose to view it.

This is a proper cinematic skateboarding experience. Thank you Emerica.

adidas ObyO KZK x Neighborhood Luker Superstar 80s

adidas - ObyO - KZK Superstar 80

I missed out on Neighborhood’s 35th Anniversary Superstars. As much as I loved the shoe, I wasn’t about to spend all night outside Foot Patrol in London on New Year’s Eve. As a result of my sleeping, I couldn’t get a pair and I watched prices shoot through the roof on eBay as everyone proclaimed that the all-black vintage Superstar was perhaps one of the best of the entire series. Since then, I’ve acquired a few models that are personally more interesting now (a one-off/all-orange Superstar Skate is on that list for sure), but even though I managed to pick up the Union and Foot Patrol Superstars at later dates (shouts to Harputs in San Francisco) I still hold a candle for the Neighborhood and Undefeated models. It’s not gonna happen, unless I find an extra $700+ in my bank account.

So when I saw the first set of photos of this new collaborative Superstar from the hands of Kazuki (the ‘KZK’ in the name), you can imagine my delight. OK, it’s not the Vintage silhouette, sure, but the 80s Superstar shape is a close second favourite. And the colourways covered the angles nicely: a touch of both the Neighborhood and the Undefeated 35th Superstars. The sample versions spotted on Crooked Tongues were simply amazing – other details aside, the tumbled leather on the uppers really raised these a level, reminding me a little of the embossed adidas x Bathing Ape Superstars from 2003. And although these were set to be limited, enough online places were set to get them for me not to think too much about it.

adidas - ObyO - KZK Superstar 80

When both pairs arrived, courtesy of Crooked Tongues, I was pleased overall, but a couple of things would’ve made the purchase more satisfying.

The released versions are slightly different and, in some ways, slightly disappointing when compared to the sample versions. Why on earth they dropped the tumbled/crinkled uppers and used standard leather is beyond me. It’s a small detail and in the grand scheme it’s not important, but it makes a difference when you see them in the flesh. You’re getting a very nice Superstar instead of a premium Superstar in my opinion. I’m not a fan of lace jewels personally, but it would have been a nice nod to the 35ths if there’d been some included with these. And the stock laces are terrible. The standard polyester lace is what you’ll find in your shoe when you open the box – a little digging around in the box reveals some spare cotton laces, but only in the opposite colour (if you get the black shoe, you get the white cotton laces and vice-versa). I bought both pairs, so a swap is in order, but it would’ve made sense to sort this detail out.

And on a personal tip, there were no UK 8.5s to found anywhere: my UK9s are a bit big and the UK8s were too small. Grrrr.

Whinge over.

adidas - ObyO - KZK Superstar 80

So, what’s good about them then? A hell of a lot, as it goes. It’s a good shape, for a start. Those few who oppose the stretched-out look of the Vintage silhouette will automatically prefer the 80s shape here. If you’ve got big feet, this is pretty complimentary. The details that have carried over from the previous ObyO/KZK releases are present – stitched footbed label, nice heel tab and slightly vanilla-dyed midsoles – look great. The typographic embellishments on the side are also nice.

Even with the few gripes, I do like them a lot and they sold out quickly as expected.

adidas - ObyO - KZK Superstar 80

éS x Atiba Jefferson | Square Two model and book

éS x Atiba Jefferson Square Two model and book

Collaborative projects with photographers have slowly become more and more frequent over the past few years, to the point that you could almost categorise it as its own subgenre of footwear. And, why not? It’s not an easy job, no matter what anyone thinks. I remember watching Skin Phillips painstakingly shooting pictures of Paul Shier years ago at my local spot and being amazed at the patience and effort that went into getting results. I was lucky enough to tour around France with Ollie Barton a few years back with Shier, John Rattray and a few other skaters and can remember his professionalism throughout the trip. I can’t imagine turning up to countless spots and having to stand still and work while everyone else gets to skate.

Atiba Jefferson’s contribution to skate photography is undeniable. For almost 20 years, his work has featured prominently in a variety of publications, such as TransWorld Skateboarding (TWS) and The Skateboard Mag. He’s taken some of my favourite skate photos of all-time – the Jeremy Wray triple set at the San Diego Sports Arena, for example – and when TWS dropped the ‘Chomp On This’ video (where they turned the cameras onto the people who were normally behind the lens) in 2002, Atiba had one of the best sections.

éS x Atiba Jefferson Square Two model and book

To be honest, when I heard about this collaboration, my first thought was towards the book that comes with these shoes. I’m a sucker for photography books and the thought of an Atiba-dedicated volume excited me: I cleared some shelf space in anticipation. I probably didn’t need to clear as much as I did, as this isn’t one of those overly-laden examples that weighs 14kg and takes up a foot of shelving real estate. It’s more of a sit-by-the-bedside publication than a coffee table art project. Covering the last 15 years of Atiba’s photography for éS, there are some amazing shots in here: City Stars-era P-Rod, Eric Koston killing rails, a particularly dope Rattray portrait, lots of team shots, Tom Penny… a shot of Rick Howard riding for the team (I never knew he’d ridden for éS, even though it was a gap filler after his DC days)… lots of McCrank goodness, Justin Eldridge, PJ Ladd, Muska, Ronnie Creager… the list goes on. It’s only when you look at this book that you realise just how many incredible riders éS have supported over the years. It’s a really nice book and showcases the photography perfectly.

éS x Atiba Jefferson Square Two model and book

The Square Two model could definitely be worn as a skate shoe in itself, but I have a feeling that it deserves some time away from the griptape. éS is a core skate brand and therefore doesn’t really opt for ‘leisure’ shoes in their product range, but these would be a perfect pair of ‘chillers’. They’re smart enough to sneak you into a VIP booth, but still have the skate shoe aesthetic. You’ve still got all the good stuff like the STI footbeds and the durable vulcanized outsole, but it’s kept clean and simple on the uppers. Throw in a little embossed film roll on the tongue and photographic details (the footbed artwork features Bobby Worrest and Danny Garcia, whilst you can tread all over Rodrigo TX and what looks like McCrank on the soles) and you’ve got the perfect sign-off.

éS x Atiba Jefferson Square Two model and book

As always, éS sling in some spare laces so you can switch up the colours a little and the box features a nice little Kodak logo reappropriation that made me smile. That’d look good on a shirt, now I think about it…

A really nice pair of shoes and a fantastic book from a brand that is still at the top of the game. You can probably find these in your local store, but if you need any pointers, check out the product locator on the éS site.

We’re gearing up for a Trashfilter interview with Atiba shortly, so watch this space!

adidas ObyO | MTN Boot 2

adidas - ObyO - MTN Boot 2

You can sit and approach a shoe ‘review’ in a number of ways: sitting and rewriting a press release is one way that works for some people, as does finding other online reports and copy-n-pasting their text as a quote. The day you see that here on Trashfilter is the day you have permission to extract my teeth with a hammer. I’ve had these adidas MT 2 boots here by my desk for a few weeks now, waiting for the chance to wear them: the all-white uppers aren’t going to be too forgiving in the London winter.

Kazuki Kuraishi’s subtle approach to design has long been celebrated in the Far East. Although he’s primarily recognised as one of the lead designers at Hiroshi Fujiwara’s fragment design, his work as a freelance designer over the past decade has resulted in a strong and consistent portfolio. adidas’s longstanding relationship with him culminated in 2008 with the launch of the ObyO (Originals by Originals, in case you were wondering) range: a series of products that reflect Kazuki’s attention to detail, love of technical fabrics and his characteristic muted colour palette.

I first met Kazuki in 2005 or 2006, when working on a research project for adidas Originals: I found myself lost in Tokyo for a week, but managed to link up with him for a short interview in the Originals store in Harajuku, before a short earthquake scared the hell out of me. Since then, I’ve watched his understated and strong design skills infiltrate wardrobes on a global level, somehow managing to make something that reads as ‘basic’ more interesting than you could ever imagine.

In his initial footwear strike in the ObyO range at the end of 2008, the black, white and red ZXZ Waterproof model really stood out to me. I’ve made enough regrettable purchases over the years to know when to leave the credit card in the wallet, but it was clear from initial rumblings that supply wouldn’t meet demand on these. With a Gore-Tex® upper, you could punish the hell out of them without destroying things – I’d love to pretend I went hiking on the fells with them, but the reality was a blur of walking round the streets of Soho, hopping on the Tube and drunken stumbling home.

adidas - ObyO - MTN Boot 2

The original MT Boot came out the same time as the ZXZ, but whilst it was nice, I went with its low-cut partner. This time around, the second incarnation of the MT Boot gets my vote. Available in two colourways (a more traditional black and dark blue combination is out there too), the white and green ‘tennis’ colourway is pretty interesting. Summer colours but partnered with a heavyweight construction means that the fear of being caught out in a rain shower can be laid to rest. A leather toebox might not be breathable for hot days, but a little style over function isn’t a bad thing. In fact, the reinforced leather toe eliminates the distress of tourist footprints ruining the ice-white look. Opinions seem divided on the strange attached-to-the-side tongue, but it actually works well, is comfortable and stops you having to fish around inside your shoe when the tongues move the side. D-ring lace fastening is all good with me too and I like the extended length right down the side of the shoe as it makes your foot look a little smaller. There’s no Gore-Tex® on these, but the ballistic nylon will meet the demands of most and looks great.

It’s Kazuki’s excellent attention to detail that really makes these stand out. The tongue labels, the green heel strikes and embroidered inner sole all give a true premium feel to a shoe that already ticked the boxes. I might return to this feature with a performance update once I’ve broken them in. Initial reports are extremely good.

adidas - ObyO - MTN Boot 2

One heads-up for anyone interested in buying them: check the sizing very carefully. The first pair I bought were way too tight, after following the same sizing as I did on the ZXZs. I’ve gone true to size on these, but it’s debatable whether I should have gone up an extra half-size in the end. Time will tell…

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.

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.

adidas Superstar Skate (Silas Baxter-Neal)

adidas Silas Baxter-Neal

When adidas decided to get things moving officially in the skate world, they didn’t half-step. Gonz has ridden for them for a while, but instead of ploughing all their funds into poaching 30 pro riders from other skate shoe brands, they’ve slowly grown the roster with a steady stream of amazing talent. Dennis Busenitz, Tim O’Connor, Nestor Judkins… even some homegrown talent in the form of our own Benny Fairfax. The team is a good mix of diverse skaters, picking points for style and originality rather than simply going for household names and superstar points.

adidas Silas Baxter-Neal
adidas Silas Baxter-Neal

So, to hear that Silas Baxter-Neal had joined the team was simply another step in the right direction. Having been voted Thrasher’s ‘Skater Of The Year’ for 2008 is no accident: if you didn’t already see his section in Habitat’s ‘Inhabitants’ video in ’07, you need to get acquainted. Habitat currently have a well-worth-the-download video clip (16mb Zip’d Quicktime file) of Silas on their excellent site, so definitely check that one out while it’s still there. Go on!

With the current glut of skate footwear monstrosities cluttering up the sale racks, I’d suggest that maybe one in three pro skate shoes is really deserved. Silas deserves to be part of the 33.3%. And, with the Portland adidas crew on the design duties, you could be sure that they weren’t going to release a metallic silver knee-high hockey boot for him to ride in either.

adidas Silas Baxter-Neal

adidas had a big thing in their favour when starting up the specific Skate division – they’ve had a DNA strand in skate culture since people began skating. My personal affiliation was with the early ’90s EMB/World Industries scene, when everyone was rocking Campus, Gazelles and Superstars, reappropriating their intended uses and realising they were good to skate in. So whilst they’ve introduced some great new silhouettes, seeing updated Skate versions of these classic models is nothing but a good thing. Why disregard history?

adidas Silas Baxter-Neal

Silas’s shoe is a Superstar Skate – a comfier and more supportive version of the iconic rubber-toed basketball shoe – but given a thorough dousing in the 3-stripe colour swatches. Black, brown, orange, grey… The combination looks amazing and sounds even better in the official adidas colour names (‘Loam’… ‘Lava’…). The suede upper is a nice touch too, giving you serious consideration as to whether they’re actually too nice to go skating in. The forest silhouette artwork around the heel panel is a nod to Oregon’s license plates, adding a considered personal touch to the shoe.

adidas Silas Baxter-Neal
adidas Silas Baxter-Neal

I’m not about to sit down and write sprawling reviews of every sneaker that comes through the Trashfilter in-tray, but these have had people talking every time I’ve worn them and have quickly become my favourite winter sneakers.

Thanks to C-Law and Danny over at adidas for the imagery and background info.

adidas Silas Baxter-Neal

Lakai Limited Footwear ‘Fully Flared’ DVD

How do you begin to write a review of a skate video like this one? What was it… a two year wait? Something like that. How could this film possibly live up to the expectations that I’d set for it? I was thinking along the lines of ‘Video Days’ or ‘Questionable’ for this one, but surely the days of such epics were gone in this disposable DVD age.
Anyway, the Lakai shoe team have been compiling incredible amounts of footage (I heard a rumour that Marc Johnson handed in 21 minutes) for this one, so regardless of what the package as a whole was going to be like, I knew there’d be some good skating.

I missed the London premiere (let’s just say that ‘girl-related issues’ put paid to that one), but initial reports were suggesting it was groundbreaking stuff. Not just skate video of the year, but possibly the last decade. Whoa…

So I finally got sent a copy to check out, courtesy of the guys at Revival Distribution.

After a really impressive slow-motion intro sequence (maybe the term ‘bangers’ needs to be redefined after watching this), the skating kicks in with a section from Mike Mo Capaldi. And what a fuckin’ section it is. I knew this guy was really good, but damn! Loads of tricks I hadn’t seen before all executed with great style and solid landings. There’s a beautiful line that ends with the best nollie heelflip backside tail to big spin out I’ve seen and his switch frontside crooked to fakie tre is absolutely perfect. I had to rewind that one. Twice. All angles covered, Mike handles manual variations, ledge work and stairs and gaps like a professional.
Next up is East Coast powerhouse, Anthony Pappalardo with some fast city lines and some amazing ledge trickery after literally smashing himself into smithereens at the start.. His 360 ollie flip over the pyramid thing is sweet.
Then you get the European team’s ‘6 Squares’ section, which kicks in with a cool little intro section. Really nicely put together and not something to skip. And then… then you get Jesus Fernandez. Oh man. What a section. The most amazing ledge tricks I’ve seen, all landed on the bolts and executed at speed. 270 ollie tailslide to flip out? Yes sir! Backside bigspin to long fakie 5-0? Yes! 270 flip (turning with it) to tailslide on a bench? Hells yeah! I’ll leave his last trick for you to see yourself. Amazing.

Next up are local London legends Nick Jensen and Danny Brady, both of who do the UK serious justice with a really nicely filmed section destroying the streets of London. Loved the Fairfields line and Brady’s backside 180 fakie nose grind into the black bank was amazing. The closing trick… damn! Round of applause for a really impressive section.

Lucas Puig is up next and having already seen enough Cliche footage to know that he’s a serious contender meant I was looking forwards to this. His first trick might have been an accident, but it shows just how ‘bolts’ his footwork is! Best switch heels ever and his closing line is amazing. J.J. Rousseau shows his prowess on the ledges and manual pads – the kickflip backside nosegrind revert (coming off the hard way) performed in the middle of a ledge is perfection. J.B. Gillet is up next… oh man… another French guy showing that these guys have the technical power angles fully locked. The line with the nab heelflip opener is so smooth. This whole Euro section is mindblowing – you’ll see lots of never-befores at places you’ve never seen. Can I just say… backside tailslide to 270 flip out (turning with it), at speed on a two-foot high ledge. Thanks.

Cairo Foster is next up and if you’ve seen him skate before, you’ll know that he has one of the most impressive and unique styles out there. And, damn, he’s got pop! Waist-high ledges, walls and handrails are no match for this man. Great music and a nollie flip over a road gap. Oof.
Jeff Lenoce skates to the D.O.C. and gives some solid lines and flippery over big gaps, before Scott Johnston steps up with some trademark SJ smoothness. Rob Welsh is also in this part, making the most difficult manual combinations at Pier 7 look like a walk in the park.
Alex Olson is an angry young man indeed. Misbehaving skateboards incur his wrath, but luckily he has full control over them most of the time. He skates really fast with a lot of confidence, regardless of whether he’s grinding rails, flipping stairs or launching huge ollies on transition. That’s one hell of a large road gap to clear as well…

Ahhh… next up are the Lakai overlords: Rick Howard and Mike Carroll. If you thought they’d stopped skating as much or were in danger of ‘losing’ it, think again. Perfect proof that style speaks for itself. Plenty of great tricks in these two parts… Frontside flip to hurricane? Damn! Carroll’s section in particular is one of my favourites in the entire film.

Brandon Biebel has a really good section, showing his power (which appears to be due to the Redline ‘ultimate energy rush’ drink he consumes at the beginning) and balancing skills. He absolutely kills it. The switch backside tailslide on the waist-high ledge can be watched again and again: it’s solid as hell. He can flip out of grinds better than anyone else out there. Dude seems like a fun guy to go skating with, although he’d make you look stupid with his trick list.
Next up is Koston. You’ll know what to expect from this guy’s section – has he ever had a weak video part? No. Big old flip tricks, smooth lines, handrail technicalities… it’s all here. The fakie tre closer to his part is absolutely massive. And he skates to Public Enemy, which makes it all good with me.

Mariano. Oh man… People have been touting this as his ‘comeback part’ – but watching it, you’d never realise he went away. His first full part since ‘Mouse’, this will satisfy all fans. Unbelievable amount of tricks you won’t have seen before, all pulled off in his unique ‘damn that looks easy to do’ style. Random tricks for you to consider: frontside 180, switch crooked to fakie flip out on a bench. Switch frontside shove-it nosegrind, nollie heel out on the same bench. The best cab flip on a bank since Gino’s on the Beryl banks. Backside tailslide to half cab flip transfer on a spined bank. Noseblunt slide to 270 nollie heel out. I’ve gotta stop there: it’s incredible.

OK… so that’s quite a line-up, right? Who the hell gets curtains after that kind of schedule. Marc Johnson, that’s who. A three-song part absolutely crammed with incredible manual trickery, flip tricks, lines and all kinds of great stuff. He’ll think nothing of doing something like a blunt hardflip out on a bench and then following it up with a 50-50 back-foot kickflip out. Early ’90s tricks are mixed up with the most amazing unseen combinations and lines you’ll have watched in ages. Everything is made to look as easy as hell, he skates with a smile on his face – and it’s the perfect end to the perfect skate film.

Faultless. That’s my review right there: faultless. Best video I’ve seen in years and years. Amazing filming, great use of effects and graphics, inspired music choices… The most amazing 90 minutes of skating you’ll see anytime soon, trust me. If I had a hat on, I’d be doffing it immediately. Do yourself a favour: don’t watch it on YouTube, don’t download it – go and buy it. You need to own this one.

adidas IRAK Rmx Equipment Sport Runner

There was a fair bit of speculation as to whether these shoes were actually going to get released. We’d seen the sample photos floating around out there, but word got back to us that the whole sub-branding/collaborative was going to be dropped by the Equipment side of adidas. My immediate thought was ‘Dammit’, but I resigned myself to the fact that unless I got lucky, I’d never get to own a pair of these.

Fast-forward a few months to December 27th 2007, and they dropped fairly unnoticed at Alife’s Rivington Club, both in-store and online. My hoarding of Christmas funds ended right there and then: I copped both colourways.

Background information for those who don’t know: IRAK is a New York-based group of graffiti writers. If you haven’t seen the words of the prophets on the walls of streets, get your Google on, watch the film ‘Infamy’ and do some research on EARSNOT.Opinion is divided on these, from what I’ve read. Lots of people think they’re amazing – and an equal amount are disgusted by the IRAK branding on the toe panels. Well, fuck that. IRAK represent getting up and getting over, so to boldly print the name on the front for all to see fits perfectly. Add some great colour-blocking, plenty of great 3M application and a comfortable shoe and you’re set. I’m not 100% sure on this, but the word was that 300 pairs of each colourway were produced. As soon as I can afford it, I’m gonna double up on these ones.

Price? $200. Stockists? www.rivingtonclub.com is your best bet, but apparently Patta had some in as well.