Who Killed Es Footwear?


I’ll be missing u

It’s gotta not be the shoes: First thought I had upon official confirmation that the pioneering freestyler behind Sole Technologies was mothballing Es, not even ten years ago the mightiest shoe company out, was that the actual product probably had nothing to do with anything. The slippery slope greased up, in some ways, by the resurgence of the Accel itself (personally would ID the Nike Dunk as a co-conspirator) put footwear trends on a path toward the reigning minimalist silhouette atop a white vulcan sole to the point where shops might as well be doing their own Half-Cab and Chuck Taylor renditions. If anything I’d think the commodification of super-simple shoe designs bought Es a few more years than they might otherwise have had if the pendulum had swung violently back toward the basketball court, but then again a meteor could have struck the planet and we may all have wound up atomized.

Then some other people are quick to heap blame on big fishes Nike/Converse/Adidas/probably not Reebok for trolling through the shallow end with their fat wallets, fucking up the food chain for mellower sea creatures that never harbored deeper ambitions, sort of like the Jamaican lobster sang about in “Little Mermaid.” That lobster is convincing and seems wise. But if that were the case, how come Es can’t survive but companies with a fraction of the name recognition and history and established sales/shop networks can still make it? Thinking here of Vox, Dekline, the revived Axion and Duffs, NSS. Or what about little-loved competitors like Globe, Osiris, Circa? How come Circa still has two subdivisions? This may be one of those deals where the amorphous “international markets” comes in as the explainer, but I always thought that was why Es kept around those occasional space-age models in the garish colors.

You look at the Es team website and it’s interesting. On one end you’ve got journeymen pro-dudes like perennial teamriders Rick McCrank and Rodrigo TX, more recent addition John Rattray, you could even include Justin Eldridge here. And then you’ve got a slew of relative newbies like Jimmy McDonald, Kevin Terpening, Ben Raemers, Josh Matthews. We can carve out a middle tier for Bobby Worrest/Kellen James/Mike Anderson but if you’re one of those types who likes to dissect “fit” when it comes to roster moves it would be easy to formulate some messageboard post questioning the cohesion. Maybe there’s a cautionary tale about putting too much weight on up-and-comer internet favorites as opposed to picking some genre lane and staying in it, which seems like it’s working for a company like Emerica. Or maybe it’s a lesson about going the super-team route, and how you better have a good backup plan if and when your super-team scatters to the four shoe sponsorship winds.*

And maybe this episode is more a sign o’ the times than anything else, since it seems like a really big company hasn’t unwound in a while. Es is quite a bit diminished from its Menikmati heights nowadays, but it doesn’t sit right to see this end for an operation with so much history. First three Koston models, Muska’s airbag, Penny stepping in from the wilderness with a switch front-foot impossible of all tricks, the “Enjoy Skateboarding” series, a good run with Ronnie Creager, the Accel obviously, the overlooked “Especial” video, the first Arto shoes, the Contracts, etc etc.

As one of those people who skated in Accels or derivatives like the Square One more than any other single shoe over the past 10 or 12 years, I mourn Es, though partly it’s out of confusion as to how the company with the little tilde thing wound up on the chopping block as opposed to others shopping for some pro-backed identity in an overcrowded segment. I was and still am considering a separate post that may serve as a sappy love letter to the Koston 2, one of the hardest to love shoes ever made that gave back twice as much after they were broke in, and in some ways were ahead of their time in terms of a less-padded tongue and being something like an unapologetic mid-top.

*Another thought, might things have turned out different if Pierre-Andre had cut Koston in via an equity stake?

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27 Responses to “Who Killed Es Footwear?”

  1. ljonz Says:

    Seems like they are adding insult to injury (to the team/employees) be calling the folding a “hiatus.” It’s like they’re setting the scene for reissues and what not down the road but without a team to worry about.

  2. huphtur Says:

    Koston “killed” éS when he left back in 2006.

  3. flap Says:

    And Bobby Worrest has a new shoe out today, bet he’s stoked

  4. Monday Mourning The Loss of éS at Boardistan Says:

    [...] we ever will, questions Sole Technology’s “hiatus” of éS today in a post titled Who Killed éS Footwear? As one of those people who skated in Accels or derivatives like the Square One more than any other [...]

  5. whatever Says:

    “hiatus” – taking a break and reformatting the brand to be a core skateshop only brand with no team, also a sub brand of etnies.
    From Sole-Tech brand manager “ES will be the new “etnies skateboarding” line comparable to Nike SB”

    WTF

  6. bo Says:

    Name more than five people that ride (rode) for es in less than 15 seconds. Name the name of the last shoe you bought from them. This post is highly rhetorical in an internet setting, so I’m ready to be proven wrong, but the brand was long for its days.

    • m477 Says:

      Last pair of es I bought was back in the mid 90′s. Ronnie Creager model I think?? I’ve never been a big fan of their shoes, although the Sal 23 was good (or was that etnies?)

    • K$ Says:

      man this post is old but i decided ill comment anyway.back in my skating day, i went through 2 accels, a pair of pjladds,and a pair of koston 3′s which were by far the best pair of shoes ive ever worn in my life…i loved es,at one point,they had literally the world’s most destructive team: koston,mccrank,penny,saari,rodrigo tx,burnquist,pj ladd,paul rodriguez,and mikey taylor…creager may have been there for a brief second

  7. Anonymous Says:

    I always thought Es had some really nice designs. At least, from the mid 9′s on through, one could look at them and sense some interest pouring out of the designers. The last pair I had were Danny Garcias and they were nice. I’d prefer to see this company standing though I could leave Mr. Andre at the door. Sole Tech as a whole never did it for me. Let’s not forget it’s proliferation throughout our malls and jock jams with etnies and the like. I did still have respect for Es at the end of the day. I look at the Nikes and think, ‘Hmm, all they need to do is change the color on the swoosh and people will still by this shit.’ I’m sure Koston didn’t directly kill Es. It didn’t seem to hurt Lakai when he hung them out. But I’m pretty sure he could kick back anywhere with his stupid frogskins on and be helping which ever shoe company he’s got on his sketchy feet. And I guess herein lies the problem, putting stock in one person for reasons of personality or merit rather than making it about bigger things.

  8. Art Hellman Says:

    I’m always a fan of the cyclical purge of skate-companies…but agreed that there are far more that I thought would have been put to the fire first

    …the ES Uno (the grandfather of the Accel) was one of my first true shoe loves

  9. steve Says:

    You should call Vox, Dekline, the revived Axion and Duffs, NSS. Or what about little-loved competitors like Globe, Osiris, Circa and ask em how they are doing

  10. Joshua Says:

    While I have never owned a pair of Es shoes I must admit that I drooled over the Accel when it first came out and am disheartened by this recent news. However I think Steve makes a good point about other shoe companies that are undoubtedly in murky waters due to the flooding of the market by sub-par start ups.

  11. art hellman Says:

    shaun white and target are laughing in their pool of scrooge-mcduck money

  12. timfeeble Says:

    Right when eS’ was starting to make shoes that looked good. Although I can’t say I’m surprised seeing as some of the shoes eS’ and etnies make look the same. etnies barge/eS’ first blood , etnies jameson 2/eS’ edward . Really wish etnies would’ve gotten the axe instead, but the ugly E can’t be killed.

  13. Joshua Says:

    “Have a great weekend and remember that the products you buy directly impact skateboarding. Support the companies that support skateboarding.”

    - Oliver Barton-

    This coming from a guy whose employer has befriended nearly every company NOT supporting skateboarding. Pick up a Transworld from any era and take note of how long it takes to actually get to the skateboard content.

  14. Wally Says:

    hey, if you miss the Koston 2s, they still make a shoe that looks to be 99% the exact same shoe!

    http://esskateboarding.com/product/fall-2011/footwear/ellipse-2/grey-white/

  15. Bun B Says:

    Pilot Light,

    Any thoughts on Koston’s on going Instagram tirades? Watson just touched on it but I like your spin on things.

  16. vic Says:

    Fuck Nike SB, Adidas & Converse for hijacking the Skate shoe market…

  17. Fuzzy Taco Says:

    yea man it sucks all these big companies coming in and ruining skateboarding with their quality well made shoes. I’ll pick the adidas busenitz shoe any day over any es shoe……well maybe not the koston2….that shoe was amazing and ahead of its time.

  18. al yankie Says:

    they should’ve put out more videos and not given in to the BS vulcanized paper thin shoe design thats plaguing skating right now. thats for all the tight pants, flannel shirt, wear a beanie in 90 degree weather skater hipsters…”conformity, thats a slut synonym” – El-P
    long live the accel. hopefully we don’t see the accel a year from now with the ugly ass DC or Etnies logo

  19. doomstation55 Says:

    “Or what about little-loved competitors like Globe, Osiris, Circa?” My thoughts about those companies are the same as yours, I’ve owned only one pair of shoes from all 3 of those companies (circa, they sucked) whereas I’ve probably had at least 15 pairs of es’s in my life (a lot more so in the early 2000′s admittedly)…. But my real point is that I am currently in Melbourne studying abroad and they have a LOT of Globe stuff, who I always wrote off as a lame company… But I guess its like their Vans where its Aussie made and its been around awhile (the 80′s or somethin?) as well as the high prices for Vans/Converse (Chuck Taylors priced as high as $90?? who would pay that much for such a cheap shoe)…

  20. Bobby vs The Edgar Video World Premiere « SKATEDAILY.net – Skateboarding's #1 Online News Source Says:

    [...] Sole Technology officially announced to park the éS Footwear brand last month, the World Premiere of the new Bobby Worrest video featuring his éS signature shoe The Edgar has [...]

  21. Skateboardr Communitty | Blog | Bobby vs The Edgar Video World Premiere Says:

    [...] Sole Technology officially announced to park the éS Footwear brand last month, the World Premiere of the new Bobby Worrest video featuring his éS signature shoe The Edgar has [...]

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