Over the course of this site’s existence, we’ve received a number of e-mails from skateboarders who are interested in buying skate shoes from here in the good ol’ US of A. We’ve scratched our heads, done endless google searches in hopes of finding some off-set shoe brand that makes skate shoes here in the USA, but we’ve always come up short.
After hours of frustration, we decided to survey those who would know best: skate shoe designers. We asked them if skate shoes will ever be made in the US and we finally have an answer: No. Skate shoes will probably never be made in the USA.
Why? The simple answer is cost.
It’s incredibly expensive to make a shoe here in the US, especially one that can actually handle the abuse that skateboarding footwear dishes out. Since footwear production has primarily moved to Asia, the factories and materials needed to make a shoe here in the US don’t exist. Therefore, you’d have to build or adapt a factory to be able to produce a shoe for skating. With that, you’d have to import the materials from overseas, and even if you did both of those, which are extremely expensive in their own right, the factories would have to meet or surpass all the US Environmental ordinances – which is extremely unlikely.
Considering the majority of the skate shoe market is made of up of vulcanized footwear, it further proves why skate shoes will never be made in the US. We’re not really sure if you’re aware of this, but vulcanizing a shoe is one of the most environmentally unfriendly processes of any manufacturing on the planet. To find a vulcanized factory whose emissions don’t directly kill the environment/ozone layer and doesn’t employ child labor is extremely difficult overseas, making it virtually impossible to imagine here in the states. Considering those are the common/staple factors that play into running a vulcanizing factory, there’s no way one would ever be allowed to exist in the US today.
Furthermore, because vulcanized footwear is so big with skateboarders, there is literally no way to produce those types of shoes in the US. But let’s play the hypothetical for a moment and think that every skateboarder in the US switched to cupsole shoes today. If that were the case, it would literally take every skater in the US to wear the same skate shoe in the same color to make it cost effective enough to produce a USA made skate shoe. You have to remember, the US is a small fraction of the the global skate community (outside of the US, the rest of the world makes up to 60%, if not more, of the remaining market). With that in mind, the US buys a small amount of the total skate footwear produced each season, so in order to get a USA-made skate shoe that wasn’t $150 dollars or more, you’d need to produce 10,000 + pairs to make it a profitable venture for a shoe company.
If your favorite company even entertained the idea of producing their footwear in the US, here is what would have to happen:
With the cost of making a set of outsole molds (anywhere from 50K-100K per mold) and upper patterns in all sizes, that company would have to sell 15,000 pairs of just one model, in one colorway, just to break even. More over, the price of that shoe would HAVE be $149.99 retail. Not exactly hitting that $70 sweet spot that you and the homies love. That would approximately cost the company $1,125,000 just to manufacture & sell to shops at the wholesale price of $75 for each pair. And that’s a basic shoe, like an Accel or any other cupsole that’s currently on the market. If they made a P-Rod 9 in the states, you’re talking an estimate $250 retail or more.
Given all of this information, we can’t fathom the idea of any skate shoe company taking on this incredible task. This honorable cause will more than likely continue to be a fantasy, as skate shoe companies are businesses at the end of the day, and considering the finances behind creating a “Made In The USA” model, we don’t know any business that would enjoy simply breaking even on costs. The next time your parents, peers, or friends huff and puff about the unworldly conditions that exist overseas and how we should do something about it, let them know the severity of the cost: our beloved skate shoes.