Mr. Rogers knew what was up. His daily priorities included swimming naked at country club pools, responding to every piece of fan mail that he received and maintaining a collection of cardigans that would make Stefan Janoski blush. Although our favorite neighbor may have never set foot on a skateboard (to our knowledge), one more thing that he understood very well was this: there are shoes for working and there are shoes for chilling. Every day, Mr. Rogers would walk into our living rooms, presumably after a long day of Porky Pigging it in front of millionaires at the pool, and sit down on his bench to swap out his loafers for a pair of comfortable tennis shoes. Mr. Rogers wore chillers.
In keeping with the neighborly spirit, we bring you another installment of 10 Classic Skate Shoes That Would Be Better As Chillers. This column seeks to highlight shoes from the not-so dark recesses of skateboarding’s past to uncover shoes that would make exceptional after-session chillers. The following list contains certain shoes for a variety of reasons related to comfort, support, innovation, or style. We hope you enjoy the walk down memory lane, neighbor.
10. Globe Chet IV
This entry may already have people seething with rage, given that this shoe is essentially a cinderblock made out of suede. There is no denying that the Chet IVs are ugly as hell, but the reason they made our list is because of their technological advances in comfort, most notably the tongue-less neoprene sock in the shoe’s collar. It’s surprising that more companies didn’t implement this feature, considering the increased coziness and stability it provided. Globe only did a couple of models with this technology, despite having near-exclusivity of the feature in the market. While this shoe may not fit the aesthetics of a modern-day chiller, there are certain features that we think should definitely make a return. Actually, they are returning…
9. Nike SB URL
This shoe might have been too far ahead of its time. Released in 2002, when the skate world was still tempering its expectations with the sporty designs of the swoosh, the URL provided more of a slender frame with a simple and stylish design. One feature that stood out at the time was the wider base at the ball of the foot with a slimmer and more stabilized heel, providing some extra support for those weary and oft-rolled ankles of ours. The URL’s silhouette stands up to a lot of other shoes on the market today, and there doesn’t seem to be a bad colorway of this shoe in existence. This one could easily transition back into the skate and the chiller markets.
8. Circa CX201
The CX201 was the perfect shoe for its time. Released in the height of Circa’s popularity, the CX201 was a vehicle for convergence with the company’s polarized demographic of Zero cronies and swishy pant Colt Cannon wannabes. People liked this shoe so much because they saw so much footage of team riders wearing it; Mark Appleyard sports this shoe in nearly every clip of his breakout part in the Habitat section of Photosynthesis. While the CX201 wasn’t quite as bulky as some of the other popular shoes out at the time, it also wasn’t at risk of being labeled too modest in its cushioning (like the unashamedly pain-inducing Rowley 1, released that same year). Circa put out a revamped CX201 in Spring 2015, but it seems to have gone just as fast as it came.
7. Axion Alta
Now we’re talking! The Alta was a full-blown deviation from the status quo of early 2000s skate shoes. Drawing inspiration from basketball sneakers, most likely the Jordan XV released that same year, the Alta helped broaden the definition of what a skate shoe should look like. We like the Alta as a chiller because of its ambiguity as a “tweener” shoe and for the added support of four airbags and an exaggerated arch. It’s probably better to think of these as chillers, given skate-specific design flaws like exposed airbags in the ollie area of the shoe. It’d be pretty shitty to have to leave a session because you popped your shoes.
6. Dekline Greaser
This one might be a stretch for a lot of readers. The Greaser is not a terribly old shoe, but it makes this list for two reasons.
One: Dekline has consistently offered some of the most visually appealing shoes throughout their history, but that aesthetic has usually come at the cost of some considerable heftiness.
Two: Vans’ Lite line has shown us that you can turn a vulc shoe into a chiller by cutting the fat and using more lightweight cushioning. Early Dekline models often featured a staggeringly thick insole that, while supportive, contributed to a bulk of the shoe’s overall weight. In terms of “chillifying” the Greaser, Dekline could’ve reengineer the upper with lighter materials and opt for a thick-yet-lightweight insole similar to those in Mark Suciu’s pro model.
5. Lakai Fade
The cool thing about the Fade is while it clearly resembles an early 2000’s skate shoe, but it doesn’t feel antiquated by modern standards. As one of Lakai’s first ever team models, the Fade was a glimpse into the creative and innovative minds behind the skater-owned brand. This shoe is solid in terms of comfort with just the right amount of internal padding, interior midsole support and breathability. Stylistically, the Fade combined familiar elements such as a Kamikaze 2-esque construction in the upper with newer features like the gradient effect on the mesh for which the shoe is named.
4. DC Truth
Similar to the first Kalis model that served as a catalyst for this column, the Truth is another classic that has aged very well since. This is the kind of design that makes people who don’t skate want to start wearing skate shoes. Unlike a lot of other early 2000s shoes on this list, the Truth isn’t entirely in need of a diet program or a redesign in order to stand up to the current competition. The suede/nubuck/mesh upper was a comparably lightweight option for its time, and the airbag-equipped foam midsole provided all of the cushioning you would ask for in a modern chiller.
3. Lakai MJ Echelon
Skateboarders have long flirted with the idea of skate shoes that transition seamlessly from the griptape to the dance floor. There have been attempts like Ali Boulala’s Osiris creeper, but it wasn’t until Gravis rocked the skate world with Dylan Rieder’s astonishingly comfortable pro model that the skate/nightlife hybrid was finally viewed as an acceptable venture. Simply put, the MJ Echelon is a handsome shoe. While a little on the anemic side in terms of comfort-based technology, the MJ is still recognizable as a simple, low-profile skate shoe. Where the MJ makes its leap into “after hours” territory is in the stylish pseudo-wingtip toe and its use of high quality materials. This shoe is a nice compromise for those with more of a refined taste but don’t want to go full-blown dandyboots.
2. Es Koston 5
Let’s be honest: Eric Koston could have stopped putting out signature models after his first Es shoe. Despite already achieving perfection, the Frostman continues to push the boundaries of skate footwear to this very day with shoes that defy homogeneity. We picked the more popular Koston 3 on our previous list, but we also like the Koston 5 as a chiller due to its clean silhouette and bold colorways. While the shoe’s sharp angles and minimal outsole give the illusion of a more form-fitting athletic sneaker, the Koston 5 was actually a bit bulkier than its sporty silhouette led on. Like many of the shoes on this list, we think the Koston 5 could easily transition back into our hearts after a brief stint in the Jenny Craig Skate Shoe program.
1. Nike Zoom FP
Ultimately, we want to highlight shoes outside of the last decade, but we cannot figure out why this shoe is no longer around. The Zoom FP is everything you would want from a skate shoe and a chiller. It’s extremely lightweight, has the Zoom Air insole with a phylon-injected midsole, the sockliner for added support and, unlike many of the other shoes on this list, you don’t have to compromise style for comfort. With the help of a seamless, one-piece constructed vamp with TPU infused synthetic leather and tastefully minimalistic accents, the Zoom FP combined the elements of a performance tech sneaker with the dressed-up style of a Dylan Reider shoe. These are chillers you could wear to a job interview.
Did we miss any shoes on this list?
Find more in Part 1.