You’ve skated for over 20 years, put out multiple video parts and travelled the globe pursuing your passion – how do you condense that knowledge into a shoe (or any product) that bears your name? As in, what’s the process of materializing all that ‘data’ if you like into a product?
I guess throughout the years I found out what fulfilled me the most in skateboarding. I learned what I like and what I don’t like. Your shoe is the connection between you and your board, so naturally I put a lot of thoughts from my experiences in skating and traveling into my shoe and into any other product for that matter.
You’ve had various pro shoes over the years that have taken on different design and performance elements – some with cupsoles, some vulc, some bulky, some light-weight etc: have your own preferences changed over the years or have you just been experimenting and learning as you’ve gone along?
I would say it was a learning process. I can’t believe how bulky some were. Never seemed like it back then. It was fun trying out so many different shoes throughout the years. It was the best way to learn. I always knew how I like to feel on my board. It just took a lot of experimenting to get it right.
How does your input into the design of your pro shoe work in terms of how you actually communicate what you want etc?
I work directly with the designers on everything. It’s really cool working with people that are so passionate about design, technology, materials etc…They always have something new to show me and they open up my eyes to ways to get exactly what I want.
How does the process of finalizing something like the KAII operate? Do you get prototypes from Converse to try out and then report back and tweak it as you go along?
Yeah, we get samples and walk around and skate in them, do some wear tests with other people and then change what needs to be changed. The process goes on until we get it right. It’s always exciting to wait for the samples. To start with a pencil and end with shoe and to see ideas come to life: it’s a satisfying process.
The KAII has a cupsole but uses an old-style traction gum, which is softer than previous materials – what performance benefits does this have?
I really like the traction rubber. I noticed that it’s way grippier, has more flexibility and I can feel my board way more than an average cupsole. I just have way more control of my shoe and my board. All of the technical parts of this shoe all complement each other. It’s almost as if you couldn’t have one without the other.
Is the idea to combine the board feel of vulc with the protection of a cup sole?
Yeah that was pretty much the idea. I’ve always loved those aspects about both vulc and cup; I think most people do. It ended up feeling better than I even thought.
You’ve used Lunarlon in the insoles of these too, kind of bucking the prevalent trend of recent years of thinning everything down and sacrificing heel protection for board feel. Do you feel as if you’ve hit up a perfect midway point between the two?
Yes… Heel bruises are one thing that you have to accept for board feel so we always tried to compensate for this with better insoles previously, but Lunarlon was definitely the missing link.
What’s been your favourite Cons shoe from over the years and why?
My all time favorites were always the classic Chuck and the Pro Leathers…I skated in most of them though. I really liked my first shoe… the cup and the vulc. I feel like this shoe has a little bit of each of my favorite Cons combined into one.
So what should skaters be looking out for and conscious of when they buy their next pair of skate shoes?
The overall feeling: How you feel in them, how you feel when you look at them. The quality and how long it will last…I don’t know, everyone is different aren’t they? Whatever makes them happy.