Posts Tagged ‘Crailtap’

FUBU or BUFU? A Podcast Indictment of Skate Shoe Companies and the Dark Age Few Speak of

March 6, 2017

duffsdog

History is written by the winners, each new generation a fresh lump of clay for the victorious potter’s hands to mold into his own graven image, funny animal shapes or mixed metaphors of one’s own choosing. In skateboarding in 2017 the winners are clear and have been for some time — the heavyweight sporting goods manufacturers, whose near-mindless devotion to quality, largess showered upon long-suffering professional athletes and resolute stewardship of investor dollars grows with each telling. Around ritual bonfires, their names and the names of their boardroom directors are exalted unto the spirit world.

Sometimes, people forget. Truth bombs are deployed — Nine Club Ipod-cast co-host Roger Bagley lit one such fuse during last week’s newsmaking Marc Johnson interview, which turned, as it must, toward the claustrophobic pachyderm that had eluded the rest of the skate media world for the preceding nine months, Marc Johnson’s messy break-up with the Crailtap camp amid his move from Lakai to Adidas. “You didn’t do anything wrong,” Roger Bagley said. “Skateboard shoe companies make shitty shoes. Nike, Adidas, Converse make really great shoes. People got tired of buying shitty shoes and decided to start buying really good shoes. Their business started hurting.”

He elaborated on Instagram: the_breadcrumb_trail@thattomcox I never called them out…and they know what I meant by the comment. They make good shoes and they try their best to make the best possible shoes they can for a good price, but the majority of brands out there make garbage. Everyone wants to stay “core” …but, when it comes to spending $75 on a pair of shoes that aren’t comfortable on your feet versus spending that money on something that feels amazing…I know where I’m spending my money. Don’t get me wrong, I’m wearing @esskateboarding right now…but, the fact is “core” brands can’t produce a shoe at the same quality as these corporations….and the sad fact is people aren’t buying “core” skate shoes at the shops like they used to…and people can blame it on the corporations ability to market the shit out their products to the masses…but, when it comes down to it they just make a better product and “core” brands can’t compete

Skateboarders for many years nursed a guilt complex over purchasing shoes and other products from international shoe merchandisers, which had spent decades of years and millions of dollars building up the athletes, major-league sport organizations and associated fanbases that many picked up a skateboard to avoid in the first place. Whereas various tennis shoes and basketball sneakers got put to griptape out of necessity in the early days, most of these eventually were cast aside in favor of skateboard industry-birthed footwear concerns that promised flatness of sole, adherence to rapidly shifting fashions and a pureness of heart that could never be matched by corporate mega-cobblers’ social responsibility covenants.

But was it all FUBU or BUFU? Duffs shoes, out of the World Industries empire that was, did little to hide the human, environmental and moral toll exacted by Cobnobblers and Strombolis. The cultural crimes of the D3 often are mentioned, but less discussed are funny-sounding enablers such as the Oarb. As skateboarding collectively rejoiced in Tony Hawk’s 900 spin achievement, the validation that only can come from a blockbuster video game franchise, and all of the ensuing merchandise sales, did the irrational exuberance only serve to throw a garish, overpriced and low-quality shoe-shaped blanket over a truly horrific era, before the global shoe makers deigned to begin supplying skateboarding in earnest starting around 2003?

One marvels to think about what could have been possible had bulge bracket footwear companies been wholeheartedly embraced instead of rejected. Properly shod, Jamie Thomas, for instance, perhaps could have landed the Leap of Faith. Or, Bob Burnquist might have landed those couple Transworld covers. If Marc Johnson hadn’t waited until 2016 to move to Adidas, could his ‘Fully Flared’ part have been 26 minutes long? Backed by corporate shoe money, could ‘The End’ have offered more realistic pyrotechnics? If DGK had clung to the Reebok deal, could ‘Parental Advisory’ have offered a Jay-Z cameo instead of Beanie Siegel?

Should skate shoe companies just give up already and thank Nike and Adidas for letting them do business as long as they have? Will the late 1980s through the early 2000s in future decades be regarded as a dark age, or will technology eventually provide a way to retroactively apply VX-quality swooshes and stripes and circular stars to lesser shoes, as a form of atonement? Does VF Corp.’s Vans count as a skate shoe company or the other kind?

The Man Comes Around

March 20, 2016

richunclepennybags

Beyond physics-challenging hair and a stated disdain for clowns, there may be hazy similarities to be grasped at and drawn between Sideshow Bob’s remarkable mayoral run in Springfield and Donald Trump’s elbows-out steamrolling toward the Republican presidential nomination. Amongst the jittery fretters who sense authoritarian tones in the bouquet of Donald Trump’s bombast, Sideshow Bob’s courtroom declaration seems prescient: ‘[D]eep down you long for a cold-hearted Republican to lower taxes, brutalize criminals, and rule you like a king.’

Erik Ellington, bigspinning Pissdrunk of years past and curator of his own famous locks, this week mused whether skateboarding has relinquished control over aspects of its greater, amorphous self. No specifics are called out, but if one were so inclined, signs could be observed all around: Erik Ellington’s onetime sponsor Active turning its fortunes over to a bankruptcy court; the sales of DC Shoe Co, Element and Alien Workshop to various holding companies; private equity’s purchases of Huf clothes and the parent of the Crail Couch itself. It is not difficult to visualize a future in which the ‘skater owned’ trope is quietly replaced with a ‘skater designed’ slogan similar to Apple’s California dreamt, China built taglines.

In one indication of the industry being divvied into ones who are sold and those who are told, Asphalt Yacht Club’s tour diary in the Cole Wilson TWS opens with a lament over Nyjah Huston jumping the tie-dyed landship for Swooshier endeavors (though not before fulfilling various contractual obligations for demos and signings that apparently do not also include skating spots with his erstwhile deckhands) before later fondly reminiscing on endearing tour missteps by Blake Carpenter, who the article highlights as another teammate who absconded for the Portland sneaker conglomerate. While quick to apply that familiar disclaimer of forgoing any hatred towards money-getting bros, the Yacht Club also claims some pride in its stepping-stone status: “One year you’re a controversial upstart who no one thinks is going to last, the next year you’ve got so much juice that you’re suddenly the farm team for the heavyweight champion of the world.” In a recent interview Habitat’s former Floridian bluntslide titlist Ed Selego similarly foregoes any hatred toward Nike Inc payrolled skaters, despite a lengthy passage arguing that company’s alleged policy of requiring shops to carry large quantities of potentially wack shoes in addition to the desirable ones led to the closure of an MIA outlet, and subsequent calls from bill collectors:

“Nike was the biggest problem for us. We had many good years selling their product, but at the same time they pushed tons of product on us that didn’t sell. They used shops like ours for years to establish the Nike SB brand. Then they opened up distribution to all the corporate stores and started selling direct to consumer. Being the number one shoe brand wasn’t enough for them. They had to exploit the brand to appease Wall St. and their shareholders. They did this with no plan in place for all the skate shops that struggled over the years. They loaded everyone up with a ton of debt then dumped us. It’s really irresponsible for such a large brand to do this and harm the very industry that they have come to be a part of. There is no better example of corporate greed.”

Such cautionary tales don’t appear to resonate: Lakai recently ceded two of its longtime Euro promoters, JB Gillet and Nick Jensen, to Nike. Heavy odds are on Danny Brady decamping for Palace-heavy Adidas in the near future, which recently hoovered up DVS honcho Paul Shier and former Lakaiers Na’Kel Smith and Miles Silvas. If it is a two-way street, the inbound legacy ‘skate’ side is peculiarly ill-traveled.

Do Sideshow Bob’s words ring true in skatedom 20 years later, with skaters secretly lusting for a corporate overlord that will tell them when to show up, where to stand and what to do in contractually legal languages? Are pros’ indulgence in vices such as gnarly substances and credit card debt, alternately celebrated and lamented, truly a cry for some grander form of paternal control? Are recent trends in looser trucks, higher speeds and fewer grabs (Homokis aside) reflect a subconscious yearning for stricter oversight under incorporated structures and shareholder-friendly governance practices? Have such forces directed Fred Gall back toward manual labors? How much rides on straighter-laced senior executives, perhaps the grandparents in this elongated and tortured metaphor, either not noticing or not caring about what goes on in the tour van?

Boy From The Block

April 19, 2010

As Vincent Alvarez’s facial hair deepens, so too do his gangster-ish ways upon the board. Alongside some impressive bank-to-barring in this recent Lakai amateur video are three of the bossier switch tricks of this month or so offered up by VA, including but not limited to: the bank-to-ledge switch backside tail, the rail switch lipslide and the switch thunder-gap bomb over the rail, each one a crusher. This dude is getting more exciting/powerful and has left behind the grosser ledge combos from his earlier days – worth revisiting is last month’s Lakai ad that has a crazy lipslide and invites the viewer to consider a world in which Federico Vitetta takes the cinematic reigns at the Crailtap camp.

Catholic High School Girls In Trouble

January 31, 2009

Somewhere, someone has already commented on how retardedly stupid good kids are today, exemplified in the best trick footage from the recent Girl/Choco/Royal/Ruby/Skate Mental/Fourstar/Podium/Crailtap open house. So, I will not whine. What I will do is note Utility Board Shop’s Daniel Espinosa, who took Carroll’s last trick from “Yeah Right” and flipped it frontside. Where I come from that’s called using your head.

(Also: how good is it, that he didn’t go to fakie.)