Speaking to Shawn Baravetto in April of last year, we learned that something new was coming in 2017 from one of skateboarding’s most gifted behind-the-scenes people. When we learned exactly what was to come, we stayed on top of it and kept our eyes on Portland.
Proper Skateboarding’s inaugural drop consists of 3 models: the Conquista, a low profile, court-inspired cupsole in black/gum, white/gum and olive/off white; the Cinex, a sturdy mid in white; and the Rook, a low, paneled cupsole in navy. Shawn allowed us to crash Proper HQ and let us in on what went into these models, and while the Conquista and Cinex are the more obvious gems at first glance, we really took a liking to the Rook and it’s sleeper-hit qualities.
First, the embossed branding on the heel of each Proper model is a welcome shift from the norm and a nice visual cherry on top. Each model has tongue patch, heel, and sole branding, and that’s it – minimal yet unique branding, letting the design speak for itself.
With the Rook, the idea was to take several modern skate shoe standards and create the most durable, supportive and skateable version possible. With Proper’s signature stitching on a flexy cupsole and a no-joke high rebound insole, all the support you need is there in spades. The early-running shoe-inspired collar is an extra nice touch.
The firm yet thin sole provides ample grip with minimal work-in time – each Proper model has taken us about 15 minutes to fully transition into, a pretty solid number for a cupsole. Although it appears that the heel sits higher, the footbed is flat and the raised sidewall on the rear functions for support. For the Rook, the heel counter panels into the side in a purposefully strengthened manner, keeping the heel locked as much as possible while allowing full mobility for your foot.
But here’s where the Rook in particular really shines – the toecap. Sure, it doesn’t look like anything special, but what you don’t see is a true overlay – meaning the large panel in the middle lies under the entire toecap, with the stitched added layer being there to function as extra protection and aesthetic. Basically, you’re going to have to work twice as hard to put a hole in these, and the shoe keeps it’s shape much longer. The suede is no-bullshit quality, thick yet maneuverable.
Also, it took us a minute, but the side panel that works up to the lace flaps – it’s a Rook. That leads us to an extra little feature that only this particular Proper model offers – lace protection. The outer flaps aren’t stitched down, providing the option to protect your laces. The tongue has centering straps and a medium-light puff to it, rounding out the upper. Since you’ve made it this far, here’s a little treat for you:
See that shadow on the sidewall that you probably thought was a stain? We hit Shawn back up after our visit about it.
“It’s fatter there and around the toe to the other side so you get the flick off the toe… but thinner sidewalls through the middle so they bend, and then a little thicker by the heel again. My way to get a vulc flick out of a cupsole without sacrificing too much flex. Plus, it’s cool lookin’.”
Did we mention the insole is removable? Not that you’d want to – this level of high-rebound PU usually runs you half the price of this shoe – but it’s nice to have the option.
To top it off, each box comes with stickers, a keychain and extra laces – the way it should be.
The amount of thought and detail that went into the Rook surprised us, and Shawn went further into detail, explaining the process of how he created his own version of a basic low cupsole with a stitched toe.
Believe us when we tell you a lot of work goes into every step of the process to get you the finished product. Every little detail has to be seen through to completion.
Multiple fixes later, the Rook is easily Proper’s most traditionally “skate” model (as in, this shoe could’ve come out at any point in the last 25 years), aesthetically, and the idea paid off. The Rook seeks to prove nothing other than you can still improve upon this type of shoe, and that had us instantly enamored.
As for the future, we asked Shawn what the next colorway of the Rook might be.
“Maybe either triple black or white/gum? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯”
What do you think?