Whether it’s his part in Nike’s ‘The SB Chronicles Volume Three’ , his and Guy Mariano’s shock departure from the Crailtap camp, or most recently, his new shoe; Eric Koston has been the source of much discussion and debate over the last few months.
Unsurprisingly with him being no stranger to pushing new ideas within footwear design over the years, the Koston 3 continues Eric’s tradition of combining outside influences with skateboard shoe design, regardless of whether the end result is to everyone’s taste or not. We caught up with Eric during his brief stay in London over the past weekend to clear up a few queries about the shoe, and where he feels both the Koston 3 and himself stand in skateboarding right now.
You have always pushed new technology and taken a lot of influence from sports footwear in your pro models. You appear to have strongly drawn on aspects of soccer and basketball shoes for the Koston 3, is that something you were striving for?
I wouldn't say I took anything from basketball really; the influences were drawn from football, or soccer. That was more of the inspiration and the parallels of how similar what we do within both sports are is evident in the end result - I don't really like to call skating a ‘sport’ as such, but it’s all about control, in the same way that it is in football. With football, the crucial aspect is ball control, being really close and connected: just being as close to barefooted as you can be so that you can be much more agile and have more control over the ball. It’s the same deal with your board, with skating that’s what you want to achieve. That way you just feel very in control.
The Nike Magista is where the Flynit collar originates from and that was your first main addition when presented with the original sample. Is the benefit of the collar more psychological, rather than offering the same level of ankle protection say a Dunk or Blazer High would? As if by just feeling something around your ankle you feel more secure?
It’s totally psychological. That’s exactly what it is. It’s not there for support necessarily: well it is - mental support, (laughs).
How is the Hyperfeel aspect implemented to provide a better connection to your board?
I guess from the foot down to the board, the underside would be the sock-liner, it’s more contoured and there are flex grooves. It’s thinner in the forefoot, just enough where you know it’s not going to hurt too badly but that you’re also not going lose board-feel. So, trying to find that balance was the goal. There’s Zoom in the insole and it’s a little thicker in the heel with the Zoom bag because that’s where you take impact for the most part. You want the foot movement and feel more towards the forefoot and then there’s also arch support as well.
Both aesthetically and technically it’s a progressive shoe and as such will obviously split opinions with skateboarding. Some of your previous models have been considered ahead of their time so how do you think such a drastic design here may influence skateboarding footwear in years to come?
I hope it changes everyone’s sort of viewpoint on skate footwear. I don't necessarily want people to copy it. I want them to push whatever their limits are, what they can do and how they can be progressive with skate footwear. I just hope it can inspire people a little bit to do that because there are a lot of the basics out there and that’s good. I understand that there are guys out there that are a little conservative and don't want to do something or wear something different. I totally get that, and I wear that stuff too. Sometimes I want something simple, clean and classic and then sometimes I want something tech, different and unique. I mean the Koston 1 is still on the market and that’s kind of a simple, basic, classic skate shoe. So, with the 3, I had the opportunity to push those boundaries and I know it’s going to be a bit polarizing and it’s not going to be totally well received by everyone but that’s fine. I knew that from the beginning so whatever happens, happens.
On that note, do you feel the process of creating a pro model shoe can be played a too safe nowadays?
Well, some people don't have that luxury, you know? They have to play within certain boundaries based on the business side of things, on sales basically, and sometimes that means that the retail side of things can control and limit creativity. It sucks but things like that do happen and like I said, I had this opportunity to do something unique because I also have a sort of padding by having the Koston 1 there as your ‘go to’ skate shoe. That’s there, this is to try and push something new.
You came up in a time where being progressive, tech or jumping down stairs stood out more so than today where there seems to be a shift in focus to quirkier tricks and spots: being at a later stage in your career, is that something of a relief to you? That you can film without doing the most insane things, or having to jump so much like you have in the past and still be relevant and interesting to people?
I mean it’s cool because it’s fun. This is a part of skateboarding that has been around for a long time. Because I’ve lived through a lot of eras, to me these are tricks that I feel might be new to somebody younger. Like to you, this is kind of a new style of skating. To me, this is what was going on in the 80s, the mid-to-late 80s, tricks being done by a lot of street skaters at the forefront at that point. I learned all those tricks back then because those were the street tricks and I think it’s cool to see people and young kids gravitating towards that stuff because it’s so fun. I’ve done it before because I’ve been around, but I still appreciate that type of skating and I feel like a lot of that came through in my Chomp On This  part. It’s kind of dorking around, but it’s also really fun skating.
Do you feel it’s out of necessity that your skating changed while filming Chronicles or was it just wanting to do something a little less technical compared to your previous sections?
A little bit of both, a little bit of what I can do, where I’m at and based on the landscape I’ve got in front of me. The trips we went on, what we skated and just utilising that canvas. But that’s what Chronicles; I think, showed and hopefully showed the fun side of it too. We had a really good time making it; it was a good crew of dudes.
How you do think the career of a skateboarder compares to that of an NBA player or more mainstream sportsperson? Would you agree that while a professional skateboarder isn't exposed as much, a pro skater’s actions are scrutinized much more?
Yeah. Well they weren't before but I think social media changed that completely. Say a basketball player, especially if you’re a good one, the spotlight is on you so any time that you fuck up it’s broadcasted. Now that happens on somewhat of a big scale because it can travel through social networking so quickly, it’s really weird that it has become like that, (laughs). But it’s happening and you have to be aware of it, you’ve got to be careful of what you do and say, which is kind of crazy.
I came up during the era of nobody really giving a fuck about what you did beyond what was filmed and seen on videos. Now you have got to be considerate of who is seeing all aspects of what you do as a public figure. You’ve got to remember that there are kids who look up to you. You have to think about that, there’s a responsibility there. Sometimes you have to take a step back and look at yourself in a different perspective because you can influence people.
I was wondering because you recently spoke about Kobe Bryant’s retirement.
Well Kobe, it’s not entirely a surprise because the dude has had a long career and he has almost always been in a post season. So he wore that body out, he tore it up, he was getting injuries later on; but as far as that goes, it isn’t totally a surprise. But it is like, “Hey man, we can’t do this forever."
It puts in perspective just how unwavering people like AVE and Guy Mariano are. They’re so far into their career but come out after every heavy video part and say they want to keep going.
That is surprising, but I totally get it. I one hundred percent know their viewpoint. I just want to keep going because I love it and I do want to push myself as much as I can physically because it’s also fun; the experiences, the friendships and the travelling. There’s a lot more that goes into the process of videos than what is presented in the end result - it’s not just kill yourself for a trick for hours on end trying to get it.
I’m guessing you’re going to be pretty tight-lipped about this. But I hear you’ve been flirting with WKND Skateboards...
I’ve just been shopping myself around trying to get a board sponsor, (laughs).
But aside from that and the fact that you and Guy will be sticking together in the long run, can you reveal anything else about what the future holds for you two?
That’s about it for now, to be honest with you. That’s all I’ve got, (laughs). There’s a lot of work to do when I get home…