We can’t really tell you where our fascination with white shoes started.
It might’ve begun in 1996 with Ed Templeton in Welcome To Hell; Ed’s part stood out for countless reasons aside from the ‘then’ groundbreaking tricks. Compared to the level of skating today, Templeton’s WTH part is still relevant and, more so, has inspired a complete alternative subculture of kids wearing their dad’s chino/dress pants when they go out to skate. The lack of flip tricks, the lengthy grinds, his at ease pushing compared to his rushed pushing in Heavy Metal and a carefully selected & flawless Sonic Youth track (only when suited with the perfect individual) always brings together the ideal assembly for a “simple yet perfect” skate part.
As white canvas shoes became an alternative choice for vegan skateboarders, it slowly became a fashionable & iconic symbol for skateboarders to grab hold of. Granted, our collective obsession may have started with Ed, but took off with other skateboarders as the years passed. Can’t say whether they themselves had the same rite of passage towards wearing white shoes as we did, but when we think of white shoes, Ed certainly comes to mind. Whether it be the contrast of white shoes on black griptape or the fact that wearing tarnished white shoes accelerates the skateboarder’s “I don’t give a fuck how I look” mentality, white shoes can only be carefully suited with those who can properly pull it off. The same standards are also withheld for those trying to sport a bucket hat; just because it’s cool after a brief hiatus doesn’t mean you should do it. As far as we’ve seen, Ronnie’s the only person who’s been able to pull off the white shoe & bucket hat combo, along with some proper cargo pants, too. Possibly the best outfit hammer to date? Definitely in the top 3.
In recent times, only a few are brave enough to challenge the status quo. After all, the combination of a true white shoe couldn’t be further than what a traditional skateboarder would ask for. Skating a leather or canvas shoe is a huge sacrifice for anyone willing to wear an all white shoe; it’s ultimately the price you pay to look unique/artsy/cool, even though the shoe will only last you (if canvas) 3 days (in the case of leather, 3-5 days of torturous break-in time). In some cases, there are ways around it – just ask Richard Angelides; The Adidas Shelltoe has managed to keep him looking fresh & protected. As a result, he’s become a long-time ambassador of the white shoe society.
The same could be said about white shoe newcomer Neen Williams, thanks to Supra’s TUF technology on their SkyTop 3. Other notable skateboarders: Biebel & Daewon for their embrace of skating the least popular white shoe option, leather. Chad Muska was another who was never scared to wear white, along with Jeron Wilson, Marc Johnson, Kareem Campbell, Rowley had a brief stint wearing white shoes (probably as a result from hanging out with Ed a bunch), Jason Lee, Chris Dobstaff and many more considering how prominent white shoes were back then.
Whether the height of popularity for white shoes was met in the ’90s – early 2000s remains to be confirmed, due to its resurgence during the past couple of years. Aside from seasonal reasons, white shoes & clothing alike have somewhat made a return in the skateboarding world. The alternative choice for those looking to stick out and, in the process, show their carelessness of staying “fresh” has become something more. Now known as the “Heath” or generally recognized as a painters outfit, the all white ensemble has been tried by many and most of them, while courageous in their efforts, have failed. This is a whole other list.
Obviously, the acceptance of an all white outfit came before the combination of white footwear with said outfit, due to Heath Kirchart’s unquestionable fashion sense. Today, if anyone is brave enough to wear a white tee, his sister’s favorite white jeans & black shoes, they’ll undoubtedly hear the “Yo, you look like Heath Kirchart” comment from one of their fellow skaters. Although, what we now refer to as “The Heath” could soon be called “The Dylan” with a simple change of matching white shoes. The results may vary, but if you’re the slick-backed hair, cigarette-smoking type, you just might get hit on by female or even males. Whatever floats your boat, just accept the consequences of wearing an all white outfit. No one said it was going to be easy.
It’s not just the skaters who are wearing them, but the brands themselves have taken notice and are accordingly releasing these simple yet stylish shoes. From Etnies to Nike, every skate shoe brand under the sun seems to be featuring at least one all white colorway in their latest catalog (as they should be). If not all white, at least a combination of gum, black accents or cream are all acceptable. If they aren’t releasing an all white colorway shoe, they’re blowing it. But the solution to that is quite simple. After all, you want to stay loyal to your brand of preference, even if they don’t have a white shoe in their catalog. Simply paint your shoes, not with just any paint, but with primer. Primer, compared to traditional white paint, has a solution that adheres to any surface much faster and soaks into any type of material. It might take a couple of coats, probably just two, but the wait is worth it. Just don’t do it on leather, it’ll more than likely crack regardless of the primer’s soaking solution.
With it’s popularity growing bigger and bigger with every “all-white Dylan” sighting, will wearing all white be the next trending style of 2013? Will skateboarders continue to be nontraditional in every way by dismissing the no white after labor day rule? Probably. Will we ourselves be doing it? No. We’re simply not worthy of the complete white outfit, but we’ll definitely be sporting some all white shoes to skate this summer. Aside from looking good scuffed, skating in white shoes just feels right. Try it and find yourself feeling as hip as Ed was in his WTH part.