As we’re all well aware, skateboarding is in a strange state of affairs. In all categories, if you aren’t pushing your best effort forward, it doesn’t matter how “core” you are, your product simply won’t sell. Even truer, if you aren’t pushing the critical shoe design of skateboarding to another level, your shoes just aren’t going to sell well. Nike, DC, and Adidas are all doing fine, and smaller brands like HUF or Lakai have created an aesthetic that has guaranteed them a consumer base. Fallen and Emerica are constantly fighting for the rail chomper consumer, all while Vans will continue to reign- especially after the release of “Propeller”.
On the other side of the coin, there are some brands that have been dominating the mall store scene, only to find themselves in an uncomfortable corner demographic. It’s because of this position that these better known Wack brands are now having to reinventing their image to help keep a skate audience intrigued. You gotta respect that…#OrNah?
With the return of éS, and Emerica doing well with its core demographic, Etnies has had to push harder to stand out among the crowd. Think of them as the ugly sister in a trio of hot and seductive sisters. You’d almost be tempted to date her just to get closer to the other two, in hopes that an innocent trip to the bathroom could escalate into bumping into one of them getting out of the shower.
Etnies, compared to others featured in this article, have more lifestyle shoes that keep the lights on but hinder than from ever being welcomed by the core crowd. However, Etnies is now adding more skaters to their team, and if the push for different iterations of the Marana is any sign, they want to emphasize their presence in skateboarding. Julian Davidson, David Reyes, Nick Garcia, Jamie Tancowny (why couldn’t he stay on Emerica again?) and Chris Joslin are just some of the more recent additions to the team. Each skater successfully bring something different to the table and are now reinventing Etnies cookie cutter image and are replacing it with more of a skate rat aesthetic.
Pros: Solid team and great functional footwear
Cons: Skaters cannot condone a girl’s line w/ a skate shoe company. It just won’t happen :/
How They’re Cool Again: A solid team, along with good designs, can always make up for inconsistent marketing objectives and a large mall store presence.
If we’re being completely honest, C1RCA has not been a real threat in the skate shoe market for a while now. It’s difficult to think where their demise started but it certainly hasn’t been the same since their once iconic team all went their separate ways. As with our judgement with Etnies, a team is one way to sway the core demographic into embracing your product again. Even more important, a product that sticks out amongst the array of competition today certainly helps. Recently, as we’ve analyze their upcoming line, and it looks like they’re looking to stray from the blessing and curse of the one piece toe. Notable models like the “Transit” are beginning to turn consumers eyes back to C1RCA for its unique take on a deco stitched replacement. This raised alternative serves as an alternative and truth be told, looks better than a panel or stitched line. It’s this type of commitment that’ll get them back into the hearts of skater’s everywhere.
Pros: Attempting to find alternatives to the one piece toe / A true skate rat team
Cons: Mall presence is too strong
How They’re Cool Again: Taking an unconventional approach in skate shoe design, without going too overboard.
Contradicting the approach of their Mall store comrades, it seems like Supra seems to be taking advantage of their mall store market- which is doing great (thank Bieber). In all businesses, you have to sell out (a bit) to keep the lights on, and then take said profit and funnel it into your core avenue. If that’s the case, then Supra is missing the mark as it seems that their skate program is getting the short end of the stick. To even keep a hold of their skateboarding fan base, they seem to release one or two well thought out models a year. Think of the Hammer, and now the Avex, which have been getting great reviews, but are ultimately alone in their popularity. It’s a shame because its clear that Supra has the resources to make great, and durable skate shoes and promote their team in a more productive light.
Then with Nick Tucker leaving for pro-flow status and still no official announcement for Chaz Ortiz (he’s still not on the team page), we’re confused by what Supra’s plans are for the future. We can only hope they’ll follow suit of brands like Etnies and C1rca and devote more time to their skate program. Especially with great talent already set in place.
Pros: Great team w/ resources set in place to dominate the skate market
Cons: They have lifestyle blinders on
How They’re Cool Again: With models like the Avex, Supra manages to sustain their skateboarding fan base but it’ll only last for so long.
Ultimately, what’s your take on these brands and can they work their way back into your heart/wallet?