The Savvy Consumer

Built to shred

The paper of record has skateboarding on the brain lately–witness their eulogy for Van Wastell the other day, mining blogs including our good friends at You Will Soon for reaction to the sad news.

A few weeks prior to that, in a lighter take on the woodpushing realm, the Gray Lady turned her gaze toward the still-lucrative skate shoe industry, pursuing the question of why skateboarders gravitate toward easily destroyed footwear.* Which is of course an offshoot of the bigger question, are skateboarders really just a pack of idiots?

(BTO advises against pondering this question whilst perusing the TWS messageboards or watching that ESPN show where they show slams for a solid half-hour.)

NYT fashion/style reporter Justin Porter takes a meandering path through the usual fashion/function argument, and he’s sophisticated enough to note the structure of Etnies’ corporate umbrella and the business nuances of flow programs, while staying inclusive enough to take the obligatory editorial stab at articulating trick physics to the Joe Plumbers of the world: “The skateboard revolved slowly under his feet and seemed to freeze for a moment, waiting for gravity to catch up. Then the skater’s back foot flicked the board, and again it spun. He landed with a satisfying thump and rode away.”

I promise one (1) satisfying thump to the first person who can identify what trick Mr. Porter is describing there. Shove-it late back foot flip? Those hot at Tompkins this summer?

Anyway, later in the article none other than Mike Vallely shows up to flex flower-child poetics: When skateboarders looks down at their feet, “they need to feel a vibe there.” “[T]here had to be a way to move away from a subculture within a subculture.” (?)

Meanwhile industry sausage-makers weigh in on the import of the Lupe Fiascos and Pharrell Williamses of the world in financing DC execs’ boat payments, and eventually we return to the story’s central point–in Mr. Porter’s words, “Skateboarders know that they will quickly destroy their footwear, but still don’t always seek shoes that are indestructible.”

And here, in the final three paragraphs, Mr. Porter pretty much nails it: “Indestructible” shoes, which have been tried before, tend to look bad. And despite the best efforts of the worlds’ mightiest shoe minds, such an indestructible shoe has yet to be devised, much less devised in any kind of aesthetically pleasing way.

I don’t know if function vs. fashion is the right way to look at it anyway. The Yosiris-led tech shoe era produced unmatched innovation, as Peter Smolik and Scott Pazelt proved once and for all in “The Storm.” Jerry Hsu skated D3s for crying out loud.

So while Emerica and Vans battle for the most minimalist silhouette on the runway, we’ve got Reynolds in the lab working on a better mousetrap and Es nervously hoping the pendulum swings back toward the moon boot. And maybe in another five years we’ll be shaking our heads, wondering how we took those 30-step drops clad only in stretch denim and waffle soles, while we Shoe Goo up some new $120 space-age Rodney Mullen construction.

*Note the Softrucks on the board in the mini-ramp photo accompanying the article.

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8 Responses to “The Savvy Consumer”

  1. ** Says:

    zoom tre a.d.’s are holding up well…

  2. Watson Says:

    Holy fuck Lamont Macintosh! He’s in the NY section in Penal Code 100A. I remember when we used to watch that video every single day, we would always crack up at his name. “Lamont Macintosh!!! What a fuckin name!”, we would regail. Well I guess I don’t need to wonder what he’s up to nowadays. He’s on Etnies flow and hanging out with dudes with a collection of wrecked shoes who like to skate mini ramps with soft trucks.

    I swear I had never read anything from the NY Times until I was quoted. I thought it was a respected news source, not an over dramatically written pile of shit-wipe. Well now I know. Although I do get a real fuckin kick out of the mental image of some pretentious literary grad student sitting on a pigeon-shit covered ledge watching skaters intently, and then leaning down and scribbling in their notebook “an incandescent crew of trundling acrobats”…. “landed with a satisfying thump.”

    Thanks for the link again. I am glad that we are friends.

  3. Eeen Says:

    Fuck you Watson, you on point bastard! You’re always making posts and comments just before I do. In any case I’m stoked to hear that Lamont Macintosh hasn’t changed since Penal Code. Except he switched half-cabs for some “Etnies’ Emerica brand” shoes. Hope hes still rocking that wallie 50-50.

  4. Watson Says:

    Actually to tell you the truth I think Lamont was wearing white with black sole Sal 23s. So maybe he’s been on Etnies flow for 15 years!!!

  5. Eeen Says:

    Who does he think he is, Chris Kendall?

  6. Watson Says:

    Ahahahah, well if that’s the case then he’s getting the boot soon. Etnies has to make room for people like me. I loved rubbing it in his face that I’m getting free Etnies now for doing nothing and he got kicked off.

    Let’s turn this comments into our own personal myspace page!

  7. Mike Says:

    I’m glad I’m not alone in semi-nerding out on the resurfacing of Mr. Macintosh.

  8. LOST CLIP Says:

    [video src="" /]

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