Fallen’s fate has been up in the air for quite some time now. After years of substandard quality and a dwindling team, most thought the brand would shrivel and die during the liquidation of Black Box, but Dwindle took an interest in the company and purchased it (along with Zero) late, last year. Enter Aaron Hoover – the seasoned shoe designer took Fallen under his wing during the transition to Dwindle and is steadily improving Fallen’s designs, materials, and ranking among skateboarders worldwide. We spoke with Hoover this summer about some of the changes the brand has been implementing, and since then we’ve wanted the opportunity to try select models from Fallen’s latest line. We went in with an open mind to determine if the brand was really stepping its game up.
The review was done using our month long format. The shoe was skated for a total of 20 hours (with a fresh sheet of Mob grip for all you nerds out there). Check below for each grading. We base our rating from 1 – 10, 10 being the best and 1 being the absolute worst.
Disclaimer: In conjunction with Fallen’s ad campaign, we spraypainted the DOAs black.
Sizing & Support
The DOA is accommodating of both wide and narrow feet, and provides all the ankle support you’d expect from a midtop shoe. There isn’t much arch support, but the design is great for anyone with ankle issues. Unlike other midtop shoes, Fallen advertised the DOA with the option to trim the shoe down into a low top (once cut down it feels more or less like a Coronado light). If that appeals to you, go for it, but prepare to lose some serious ankle support when you cut the shoe down. We found that the shoe works best as a mid-top.
Short Answer: True to size
Comfort & Cushioning
Fallen is advertised as a no-frills company, and that certainly applies to the cushioning on the DOA. The shoe includes a standard foam insole, typical of most vulcanized shoes, in lieu of a special insole that most companies are now focusing on. There’s more cushioning in the shoe than, say, a Vans model, but an extra-long session or one bad fall will leave you sore in the morning. What’s more, they start to flatten out around the 15 hour mark, diminishing the support they already had. If you’re used to skating thin vulcanized shoes on a regular basis, you won’t have an issue with these. If you’re not, consider swapping in an after-market insole. It might even help with the structure and support of the model as a whole.
Comfort & Cushion: 6 – The stock insoles provide enough protection to guard you from bruises, but the DOA would benefit from a more substantial insole (particularly in the forefoot area)
Boardfeel & Grip
To be frank, we were very impressed with the DOA’s performance. As one would expect, the sparse cushioning in the DOA’s lends for excellent boardfeel, but the shoe is also grippy and flexible right off the bat. The herringbone tread pattern is deep, and the sole is soft enough to keep your foot locked in place, but hard enough to not wear out after three sessions. As a result, the DOA has a brief break-in period and a long skateable period. During skating, we found ourselves trying (and landing!) new tricks frequently, and we didn’t notice a change in grip until we were well past the fifteen hour mark. Towards the end of the test, the sidewall starts to wear down and the grip starts to fade, but the tread lasts for the shoe’s entire lifespan.
Boardfeel: 9 – Boardfeel that you should expect from a vulcanized shoe.
Grip: 10 – We had great flick for the entire 20-hour skate period, a rarity in most shoes.
In the past, we’ve found that shoes with quick break-in periods are the first to show excessive wear and tear. That’s certainly not the case with the DOA. After twenty hours of skating, the shoe was just starting to turn floppy. There were no fuzzy patches in the suede and no holes even beginning to form. The sole retained most of its tread, with no bald spots forming in the kickflip toe. Unfortunately, the shoe’s design guarantees broken stitches on the sidewall by the midway mark. Thanks to a canvas underlayer, the shoe is far from ruined, but will lose a significant amount of structure and support if you don’t superglue the stitches beforehand.
Overall Durability: 8 – The shoe may turn floppy, but the suede, sidewalls, and tread hold up excellent. The broken stitches are a minor irritation, but nothing serious.
Don’t be sold on the DIY aspect of the DOA. Despite some design flaws, the shoe stands as a solid midtop option in today’s market, and represents a huge step forward for Fallen as a whole.