It’s a strange experience when a true skate company suddenly ceases to exist. Fallen was a significant shoe brand, and we all have mixed feelings about not just Fallen, but the shoe industry as a whole. The entire skate industry, really. Everyone here differs at least a little in most areas, as far as our takes on occasions like this are concerned.
Do we focus on how Fallen was the only successful company to start in the early ’00s? Do we highlight what they could have potentially done differently to stay as relevant or significant to skateboarding as they had been at various points? Do we note their demographic-driven image and branding? Do we talk about how skateboarding has changed, and where Fallen fell in that equation? Do we place blame? Make accusations?
Everyone has their opinions, especially in this day and age. I’m sure you feel a certain way that maybe we don’t. There are intangibles as far as the eye can see in this footwear-driven world of skateboarding so many call home. At RL, we try our best to verbalize the intangible when it comes to skate shoes, but sometimes we just have to step back and appreciate something for what it is, as opposed to playing the role of posthumous judge and jury.
We love skate shoes. Truly. There’s an art to them that can’t be explained by graphs or numbers. If a shoe looks right when you’re setting up for a trick and feels right around and under your feet, therein lies an inexplicable confidence that can’t be attained through any other means.
While we celebrate the valiant attempts that are made across the spectrum that is skate shoe design, we’re not so oblivious as to discount the role a brand plays in how one thinks of the shoes they get behind. There’s never been a shoe made for everyone, but every contribution, for better or worse, has changed the landscape of footwear. Once a shoe is out there, everyone takes note. Sometimes it’s an inspiration, other times it furthers a resolve to avoid the specifics of that shoe. The ripple effect is undeniable, from the design desk to the consumer and back.
We celebrate skate shoes, as a whole… and maybe you don’t care about certain parts of the whole; maybe you embrace it all. Like most of us, you’re probably in the middle somewhere. Whatever the case, the impact of a shoe brand that’s made as big of a mark on skateboarding as Fallen deserves a sendoff complimentary to their presence.
It’s not for the faint-of-heart to start a shoe company. If anyone had the commitment to pursue such a task, giving 120%, it was Jamie Thomas. Skateboarding rarely sees the amount of determination he’s shown, time and again.
If there’s ever been someone to run a company exactly the way they want to, it’s Jamie Thomas. His relentless individualism has been well documented, from being forced to earn every accolade, sometimes while homeless, for most of the early ’90s to some of the most influential video parts skateboarding has seen before or since, to Fallen, Black Box and beyond.
Jamie Thomas’ commitment to doing skateboarding his way is undeniable. We could all take a lesson from some facet of his career.
Perhaps Fallen’s singular greatest contribution, and what they’ll most likely be remembered most for in years to come, Ride The Sky became the stuff of lore before there was a release date. By that point, post-Fully Flared, the collective mind that is skateboarding knew just what was possible in the streets – it just hadn’t been done yet. The Fallen crew did it.
They gifted Gilbert Crockett and James Hardy into the mainstream consciousness of skateboarding. Fallen took risks, even in the face of an increasingly safe and stale post-economic-collapse industry. As opposed to a continuation of what worked, they pioneered the modern full-blown travel video with no full parts.
Fallen never gave a shit what you thought of them and weren’t concerned with appeasing the masses. They did what they wanted, how they wanted, when they wanted. They released bulky cupsoles into a low-profile, vulcanized-heavy era and vulcs into a cupsole-heavy era. They kept on rockin’ and rollin’ while others preyed upon music trendseekers. They gave skateboarding it’s biggest shock in years by bringing on Jack Curtin. They stuck to what they loved and never faltered.
Sometimes, enough of the skateboarding whole is on board with someone’s vision to carry it..
Sometimes, skateboarding sees fit to support those they appreciate.
Sometimes, the ethos of DIY and skater-owned trumps other aspects.
And sometimes, they don’t.
Whatever reasoning or blame you place on whatever party or facet of the shoe industry, or skateboarding at large, or singular entities, or yourself, the fact is Fallen isn’t with us anymore. We’ll never know what might have come out of their particular take on skate shoes. We’ll never know who might have been discovered via the Fallen program. We’ll never know if they could outdo Ride The Sky. We’ll just never know.
Not many of us can say our output changed skateboarding.
Thanks for the memories.