Posts Tagged ‘Gravis’

In The Great Dice Game That Is The Skate Shoe Business, Gravis IVSK8 Wagered, Rolled And Lost

October 24, 2012

Winter arrived early this week for the action-goods provider Burton, as P&L discontent forced tough decisions at the top that abruptly left Nordic sweater Arto Saari, stylistic watchword Dylan Rieder and others shoe deal-less and set adrift on the ice floe that is free agency in the current economy, increasingly resembling a scene from one of the early, J Strickland-helmed Baker videos where a poor dude is rolling on the ground and groaning in super slow-mo. Is what it is and all involved are wished well, though things appear somewhat brighter for pro and am endorsers of Analog brand pants, who according to this press release will enjoy certain hand-holding procedures throughout this difficult period:

Regarding the Analog surf and skate teams, we will be working with each team rider individually on an exit plan to transition them out of the brand.

The gap in sponsorship largesse is expected to be felt most heavily by Southern California thrift-store proprietors, several leasing agents and various weed spots, while the hardgoods industry collectively contorts and careens as it attempts to financially nose manual through a global recession period. As consumers we lose out by way of a thinner selection of goods available for our paycheques and one less competitor to keep honest rival shoe sellers. Yet the untimely demise of Gravis’ “IVSK8” lineup could signal that a deeper and more troubling loss already be lurks elsewhere, buried among footnotes in the great balance sheet of our psyches.

Foisting another footwear choice on an oversaturated population, backed by a big snowboard concern and incorporating a rather on-the-nose identifier amounted to long odds facing the Gravis venture from the jump, but was the company’s true crime being too daring? The much-derided Dylan pro model and later loafer drew wide attention but by all accounts made relatively few sales when stacked against the various iterations of the half-dozen vulcanized templates that have domineered shop walls for what seems now like the better part of the last decade, possibly the longest span of time a shoe trend has held sway over a previously fickle subset of trend-hoppers.

In a time of war abroad and economic upheaval at home, have our shoe choices skewed too far toward the safe, familiar and disposable, virtually ensuring that even the likes of PJ Ladd cannot persuade us to spend freely on a technology-forward, expensive signature model? Did Gravis roam too far off the stylistic reservation without a properly tested avalanche transceiver? Or must we make conscious, tribal decisions to periodically embrace outlandish design silhouettes so as to maintain our group ‘edge’?

Advertisements

Graveyard Chamber

November 7, 2011

There’s any number of things that pretty much guarantee (eventually) a blog posting in this blog space, including but not limited to skateboarders throwing away lucrative sponsorship deals in favor of paying Don Cannon American dollars to shout slogans on a 75-minute mixtape, switch backside noseblunt slides, and various situations involving Fred Gall, moving vehicles and open containers. Another has been Jake Johnson skate footage, even recycled, it shines like a diamond-studded DVS logo pendant: the imitable Quartersnacks has fused a couple youtube clips’ worth of 3-4 year old video, some of which I’d seen, some not — like the couple runs near the end of the second clip incorporating some 180s up and down a median curb that zoomed me back to the one all those Zoo York/World guys used to skate with the turned-over trash can (or not, as the case may have been). That and the kickflip f/s tailslide in the first clip. Quartersnacks claims to be sitting on a long-form interview with Jake Johnson which will probably be worth reading. He seems to have come up with a healthy baked-in sense of disillusionment which tends to complement East Coast skating and his off-the-grid movements are refreshing paired up against Twitter shouting matches between kids and pros closing in on 40. Pulling for the rumored Alien promo with Gilbert Crockett or at least some Gravis one-off to come next year, which will go some way towards offsetting the European sovereign debt crisis and the bad feelings that will come when AT&T Mobility steals all of Boost Mobile’s best riders.

6. Dylan Rieder – “Dylan”

December 26, 2010

Whether or not he was as backed into a career-corner as his going-there “Epicly Later’d” made it sound, the Jake Burton-underwitten one-part promo wallop did a fine job resetting the gameboard for Dylan Rieder this fall. Earlier we were comparing him to Heath Kirchart due to danger-moves like the handrail switch flip and the boardslide to bus dodge, but rewatching this a few months later and there seems like a really “Visual Sound” tinge to some of this stuff like the bar ollie/frontside 180, the schoolyard line and that sidewalk run with the long lipslide on the white block… maybe it’s the button-ups. Still a little out to lunch on the Dracula cape-drawing moves with the forearm but supremely stoked on his left foot in the backside smith grind, resurrecting one of the better non-Penny kickflip shifties out there, and how many of his teammates filmed clips for his part.

But He Never Had A Drinking Problem!

October 9, 2010

Handled a shoe deal, drug problem and semi-graceful growth from handrail am to finesse pro and still looks like he’s 15, Dylan Rieder’s VBS quadrilogy paints him as a still-young man now on a mission — personally thought his “MF” part held up well enough as a sophomore come-down from the blockbusting done in the Transworld vid, but suppose this really only goes to show how far off my perceptions are from the front-line realities of action-sportoids such as Mark Oblow and others who have front row seats to eyeball melting impossibles*. The Gravis mini-movie didn’t strike me so much as anybody pinnacling but more like this kid gathering his strength, re-setting the bar for what may come next with a lot of moves that seemed sort of founded on the Heath Kirchart-sized gap in the AWS ranks (tall bar b/s tailslide, rooftop ollie, head-high hip frontside flip). The focus on power/altitude over technical-ness seems like a conscious choice that makes sense in terms of retrenching for the next five years of Dylan-dom, but when it comes to tying it all together what would’ve sweeted up the pot would’ve been a couple reminders that this is the kid who switch bigspin flipped that blue stairway after blazing through the bowls in “Time To Shine.”

That’s quibbling though and Dylan Rieder, with this Gravis video, has for the moment outstripped the trappings of his little shit days, his heart-throb cheekbones and personal dark period to win over even the tut-tuttin’est messageboarders, now roundly seen as having recorded one of the better video parts to be seen this year. More interesting is what he aims to do with his hard-won political capital — Barack Obama blew his on health care reform, Jamie Thomas resurrected the street grab, Peter Smolik cleared the table and built for himself an empire of waxed ledge combos. Dylan Rieder is a style guy though, both on-deck and off, and his tastes sometimes run toward the retro which maybe explains his apparent decision to use his platform as a starting point for reclaiming the once-rebellious “McSqueeb” hairstyle, used by young men in the late 80s/early 90s to help invent the Madonna and save mankind from robot-wrought apocalypse. This ‘blog site’ may settle for more switch bigspin flips and another angle of that impossible over the contest barrier.

*BTW, the one over the New York bench ought to jockey with Satva Leung’s maybe-maybe not flip in “Welcome To Hell” for all-time sleight of foot mirages

Walking Blues

August 12, 2009

cardboardshoes
Couldn’t walk a mile off in my air forces (via Fuse Gallery)

Confronted with shoe walls awash in vulcanized soles and increasingly minimalist silhouettes I can’t help but wonder if we’re seeing the skate shoe business, known to some as the last and final bastion of early-00’s profitability for the industry, on the verge of commoditizing itself like what happened with hard-goods. Despite noble efforts from PJ Ladd and TK to goose footwear pricepoints – a bold move in the shadow of a global recession monster – the market seems to dictate that kids basically want $50 Vans, or close approximations thereof, heel bruises and short life spans be damned.

Of course sooner or later tastes will change and tongues will puff up once more, but you have to wonder if technological innovations like the space-age materials currently being pushed by Gravis dude above, or Sole Tech’s shoe lab, or DC’s continued efforts to promote its Super Suede material, are doomed to become the shoe version of carbon fiber decks and air-core wheels. Concaves and dimensions come and go but the skateboard deck hasn’t changed much in the last 18 years, even though the hammer era saw kids of all weight classes snapping boards faster than ever. Who’s to say that the current generation, who don’t remember the armoured tanks we used to push around in, don’t see shoes the same way now?

Now this isn’t my usual sepia-toned spiel about how we all need to go back to the good old days and skate only painted curbs so I don’t feel so horribly insecure. Paying nearly twice as much for shoes that were harder to skate in and only marginally more comfy is a bargain only a fool or a well-paid masochist like TV’s Steve-O would entertain. But I kind of wonder if the shoe companies aren’t painting themselves into a corner here, profit-wise. Meanwhile you’ve got deck conglomerates pushing and shoving to get into the footwear business, and with companies like DC white-labeling the Lynx to shops or whoever, what’s it even mean to be a skate shoe company anymore? It’s like they’re tiptoeing toward blank deck territory, which recently obliterated professional skateboarding forevermore.

But even though there’s so many skate shoe companies now all basically pushing the same product relatively cheaply, nobody really wants anything else right? So how is this different than boards? Most kids don’t give a shit if they snap a board in two weeks versus a month, cuz that’s how boards are. Or, kids don’t care enough to light a sales fire under those Almost disc-decks. The Arto shoe purportedly lasts six weeks longer than a comparable shoe*, but are kids that now buy six pairs of shoes per year going to flock to Gravis so they only have to buy shoes four times per year? People used to a regular turnover maybe don’t want their shoes to last longer, like how you want a fresh board every so often and aren’t trying to ride the same deck for 12 months.

Shit, I don’t run a shoe company, maybe the simple-shoe revolution of the 00’s is all part of their master plan to move more shoes faster. It just seems like it could wind up biting them in the ass, the way all the deck manufacturers are hustling to diversify into clothes and whatnot. Consider: with next to nothing in the way of construction advancement (slicks aside) deck prices have stayed roughly the same for almost 20 years, or at least seriously lagged the inflation rate. (Ye olde inflation calculator puts a $55 board in 1992 at $75 in 2008 dollars.) Skateboard economy, heal thyself…

*however they calculated that one

Freeze the ocean

August 3, 2008

Like many a faceless internet blowhard, there is little I hate more than being wrong, and I would sooner plunge my face into a soggy pile of Frank Gerwer’s befouled trousers than admit it. Yet over the six months or so that I’ve yammered away in this space I’ve definitely been completely totally wrong about a few things, and my conscience won’t let me watch Trapasso’s part in the new TWS vid again until I’ve set things straight, although most of these are fairly obvious. Anyhow. Boil the Ocean regrets the following errors:


Adio: not actually out of business
I sort of jumped on board with the rumor-mongers on this one, mostly because it seemed so plausible to me. Like, why wouldn’t Adio go out of business? Yet as Duffs has taught us time and time again, it takes some fairly extraordinary fucking up to fall out of the skateboard shoe game. And although several of Adio’s higher-profile dudes jumped ship and they apparently closed a warehouse and fired a bunch of people, they do indeed keep on keepin’ on with the business of making ugly skate shoes for slow-witted Journeys customers. But, they still have a pretty solid team in place (Brezinski, Broussard, Montoya), and provided Kenny Anderson doesn’t fall under the spell of the Converse dollar they may well outlive Dekline.

As if to prove they’re not only still around, but have enough extra money to buy an HD camera, Adio put up this podcast a few weeks ago that features some pretty gnarly skating by Nick Dompierre and the rest.


411vm: Still existing in some form or another
More news that seemed a long time coming, except that as soon as I said something about it 411 changed their website into some portal to action sports-themed Friendster knockoff Skateboard.com, with this announcement, which was later removed. (And the 411 website is now back to its normal self, such as it is.) As Europeskate notes both these skateboard media powerhouses belong to the illustrious Wasserman Media Group so this may be more of a reshuffling than 411’s card being pulled, but for now, the future of those free DVDs in cardboard sleeves remains in question, so maybe I wasn’t actually wrong, yet.


Es shoe designs not all that bad
Like most other thinking people I made fun of Es shoes’ more out-there designs when they unveiled their fall 2008 goods, but I don’t think I really gave them enough credit for doggedly sticking with their tradition of teched-out shoes in a time when the fashion pendulum has swung so far toward the minimal. Also, having gone through several pairs of the Square One, I ought to say that it’s probably one of the best skate shoes made right now, and in Es’s storied history. Which isn’t to say that Es doesn’t make some ridiculous, silly-looking damn shoes. But the percentage of wearable shoes put out by Es is probably about equal to the average skate shoe company, except that instead of numerous Dunk/Era/Half-Cab/Stan Smith rehashes, Es makes neon spaceship boots. Which is of course their God-given right as an American company owned by a French freestyler.


Burton/Gravis not the devil, probably
I realize I’ve gone pretty hard at Burton and Alien for everything that’s transpired over there recently, and I don’t really take any of it back, but I do think the above shoe from the upcoming Gravis “IVSkate” venture is cool.