Kyle Walker isn’t your typical pro.
I don’t mean that in the obvious sense – referring to his uncanny ability on the stunt wood – rather, I’m talking about his ability to rip and still be one of the nicest guys I’ve had the pleasure of talking to. With his talent, Kyle has every reason to have a big ego that can cast an ugly shadow over anyone, but instead, I was met with this welcoming character that happens to skate like a madman.
Maybe it’s because of his ability to meld the best of both worlds that he’s getting a pro shoe from Vans. We’ve all seen the leaked photos from Kyle and Chima’s Instagram accounts, and we’ve (along with everyone else) been anticipating its release ever since. Because of this overwhelming demand, we wanted more info and managed to track Kyle down in the midst of him leaving for a trip to talk about his upcoming Vans pro model.
So when were you approached about getting a Vans pro model? How did this all go down?
It didn’t really get brought up to me at all. It was just Justin Regan, Jamie Hart and a couple of other people at Vans who were there that day. I originally went into the offices to do some colorways, all hungover, too [laughs], but I’ve done it before and I thought I’d be in and out. So we go into this room that has a bunch of material and fabrics, and not just a computer like I’m used to. Then one of the designers, Neal [Shoemaker], comes up to me and says “So you got a shoe.” I was pretty much starstruck, which explains why I’m kinda vague with the details at the moment [laughs]. I’m pretty sure I blacked out for a minute there. I was just like, “Uuuuhhhhhhhh, oooookay, lets do this…” Even when I left and got back to my car, I didn’t leave right away or play any music for like 10 minutes. I was just like “Vans just gave me a shoe? What?! Vans??” So, I called up my mom and family and they were tripping, but that’s pretty much how it happened.
Even to this day, it’s crazy. It’s been the only shoe I skate. I look down and I’m just like “damn, is this a dream?”
That’s sick. Around what time did this meeting go down?
I believe it was February 24th of last year .
Were apprehensive at all? Like “No, I don’t deserve this?”, or did you welcome it with open arms?
In all honesty, it was kinda weird for me. I just didn’t expect it. For me, I knew other people were on the team before me and didn’t get a shoe, so in that sense I felt weird. But everyone on the team has been super supportive and psyched for me. Couldn’t have asked for a better crew.
Did you know what you wanted right off the bat, or were you approached with a shoe in mind already?
I kinda had an idea, but not an exact one. All I skated were the Gilberts and, based off of that, I just wanted my shoe to be simple, but it’s funny because it didn’t come out simple at all [laughs]. At first, we were in talks about putting together a runner kind of skate shoe, but I wasn’t really about that. I didn’t want a foam bottom or some weird shit like that. My new shoe is based off of the Gilberts honestly, but I just made it different. Like, I made my insole way thicker, along with other things. My shoe sits on top of a Waffle Cupsole and I think it’s one of the first Vans shoe to do that. And it still skates great right out the box.
What skate shoes did you grow up skating in? Were there any old favorites of yours that you drew inspiration from?
The Reynolds 3 was one of my favorite shoes. It was kinda skinny but had somewhat of a pointy toe, and yeah, my toe is like that. I used to always skate that shoe, and always put the diamonds in. That shit was flossy [laughs].
I threw the Diamonds in too [laughs]! But going back to what you were saying, you started working on the shoe in February of 2015. When did you finalize the design process and get to a place where you were happy with it after skating the samples?
Probably the second to last sample. It basically took a year of skating samples to get it where I wanted it to be.
Was there anything specific that you added to the shoe?
I added the elastic bands attached to the tongue, but I made it wider so it fits your foot better. It’s not like a bootie, so you don’t have to have another sock all over your foot. I also added the heel tabs to put them on easier and made the tongue thicker – almost going back to how the Reynolds 3 tongue was thick – but I didn’t make it that thick. There’s a lot more cushioning in my shoe than today’s standard because I can’t stand it when my pants go over the tongue of my shoe, so I made the tongue thicker so when you prop it up, it stays where you want it. I was going for comfort. It grips your foot really well and has a thin layer of duracap under the toe. I’m happy with it, for sure. Oh and I had to have that side stripe.
When’s the official release date? Anything cool we can expect to see along with it?
I got a commercial that drops with it and it’s a little over a minute long, I think. It’s seriously me, Elijah and Chima acting and shit. That alone should be funny as shit [laughs]. The whole story behind it is funny, but I believe were also going to do a couple of wear tests and a tour for it. Nothing set in stone, but we’ll definitely be doing stuff for it. July 9th is when everything is set to drop.
Did you have anything to do with the pink colorway that I saw Chima’s post on his IG? I’ve been dying to see a pink comeback for a long time…
It’s funny because I always make random colorways that I can only get for myself. The first batch of my pro shoe that I made was Baby Blue on Pig Suede. Pink, like the ones that you saw. Some forest greens and some all black ones. And the pink came out really nice, but, initially, I was told that it wasn’t going to make production. I just remember telling them, “Y’all need to make these and they will pop off”, and I posted a random photo of it and people still comment on it to this day. Now, because of that reaction, it’s making production, but won’t come out until SP’17. Hopefully people don’t sleep on that pink shoe.
What are you anticipating with the release of your new shoe? Are you excited or nervous?
I’m not really nervous. I’m more so just excited, like all of this is just so surreal. I’m still stuck in little kid mode and fan out when I see my favorite pros and everything. It’s gonna be cool though, everybody does that. I’ve made colorways of team shoes in the past and seeing random people wearing them in London or wherever made me trip. Just seeing that was crazy, so I might see that more with my shoe. So, every time I see them in the wild, I definitely know that I’ll trip.
What’s your mom’s take on the shoe? I saw that she posted it on her IG when I was looking at your shoe’s hashtag. What’s her take on it?
That’s what I can’t wait for the most. I can’t wait for them to get their pairs and rock them. Once they got them on, I’ll be psyched. I wouldn’t be anywhere without them, so getting them their pairs would be a huge thank you from me to them.