Two things that should’ve never left skateboarding:
-Rubber paneled toe caps
It’s understandable that no one wants to skate D3’s forever. Sounds like an over-exaggeration but if you had a pair, you know they simply wouldn’t die (& now they’re over $100’s, wtf?). But even though the old silhouette in question resembles Quasimodo’s outline & has zero fashion appeal, they undeniably worked best for skateboarding.
Now that rubber paneled toes are making their way back into skateboarding’s trendy forecast, we’re asking ourselves “why did they ever leave?”
We were left assuming that it was something on the scale of production costs but after speaking with numerous footwear designers, turns out that it could be cheaper to manufacture rubber paneled toe caps because you aren’t relying on reinforced suede or any other animal products.
Our close friend Nick Pappas has experience dealing with factories as a skate shoe designer & he gave us a little more insight on production coasts & more.
“It’s a weird one with toe caps. Factories love them because they increase material yield which gives those factories a better margin on costing. They also love it from a durability standpoint because you can only reinforce a clean toe shoe so much before it becomes uncomfortable to wear. Toe caps are much easier to reinforce for the factories, which adds durability to the shoe and in turn decreases the amount of returns those factories are likely to receive.
As far as rubber toe caps, I’m not really sure why they disappeared for so long from skateboarding. My gut feeling is that skateboard footwear companies take things to extremes. In the late 90’s, early 2000’s, durability was the name of the game so shoe companies went buck making shoes that looked and skate like tanks. After that trend died, skateboarding took it to the other extreme and started making the thinnest vulcanized shoes possible. I think rubber toe caps are making a comeback because skate footwear is moving towards a phase that is in between shoes of the 2000’s and the latest trend of ridiculously thin shoes. You look at the new Busenitz ADV, or the Lucas, they are moderately thin, while throwing tech and durability in the mix. I think rubber toe shoes will re-emerge in the next year, but I think shoe companies will add them on in smarter ways then they did before. They’ll develop ways to High Frequency weld those toe caps onto shoes. One step farther than what we are seeing on this Busenitz ADV which is more of a screened-on toe cap. These HF welded toe caps will allow for shoes to have that “clean toe” look, while adding durability that companies and factories love.
As far as costing, both the old school rubber toe caps and the new age high frequency welded toe caps are slightly cheaper for the simple reason that they are synthetic materials and you are not relying on only animal hides to build a shoe.”
With all this info & more, what other companies are going to step to the plate & challenge their design team to build a functional, fashionable & durable rubber toe skate shoe? Companies like Adidas, Dekline & Etnies are already ahead of the curve by putting out some of the more sought after models of 2013. Most of these rubber paneled shoes are staying within a normal price range all while increasing their grade of durability. If kids don’t embrace this, they’re out of their minds. There has already been some negative feedback concerning these upcoming models. Some have argued that the paneling will get in the way, interrupt their flick or simply fly off after a session. Chances are they’re wrong but we’ll solidify that by testing & reviewing each one of these rubber panels in the near future.
The other question on mind is who will do it best? You should expect to see more rubber paneled/ reinforced toes going into 2014. We’ve already had the pleasure of getting reintroduced to a classic that’s being reissued. Any guesses?