éS Sal 20 shoe review

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Had a taste of shoe heaven yet this year? If not, you’re about to find some. The history of the original Sal 23 started as the very first éS shoe when they launched back in 1995 – at the time it was a bona fide classic, the first pro skate shoe for Sal Barbier that spread like wildfire throughout the scene that was not only admired for its fashion statement, the functionality of the shoe was 100% built for skateboarding by skateboarders.

This period was golden. Skateboarding was raw, the real underground. None of Michael Jordan’s people were anywhere near our scene at the time, although said sports pro did share the same basketball number with Sal – the 23, a number that most 90s skaters will never forget due to this shoe. This new re-issue sees his infamous number switched to 20, paying homage to éS celebrating a sterling 20 strong years in the skater owned shoe game. Only a hardcore few will want their 23 back, but the double decade will do nicely.

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Rightful big ups to éS for their achievements aside, let’s go back to functionality, because it’s rare these days for any skate shoe company to issue a shoe that has an ollie patch. Most companies want you to skate every day so that your Mum has to buy you a new pair and replace them fast – it’s a sucker marketing strategy, sneaky too. Barbier and the dudes at Sole Tech wanted a shoe that lasted. It’s a beautiful touch and one that you will appreciate when you slip these on and start pushing.

“I wanted a rubber piece on the side so it wouldn’t rip up. I kind of liked that, because I don’t always like wearing ’em when they’re brand new.” explains Sal in a previous interview. “By the time most skate shoes break in, you have to get a new pair because they’re all ripped up. I worked on the design of the whole shoe, the sole, the logo, everything, around 1994-95.”

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We had a delivery of the Sal 20 here recently and have spent 3 weeks in them now. The first obvious observation is that they are now made thinner than the OGs (thankfully), but back then everything in skateboarding was wide – apart from wheels. They are comfy too. None of this waiting for the shoe to be ready for a sesh, these are lit straight out of the box. I personally like to stick the laces behind the tongue allowing the logo to represent, like a number plate. Surrounded by smooth suede with perforation holes in front of the first lace, these are super simple, but perfectly efficient for street or mini ramp skating.

All you need to know is that these are 100% skateboarding. éS have brought a classic back from their wonderful archives and re-issued them in style. You need a pair in your life. Support skater owned brands so the next wave of hard working skaters can get what they deserve.

It’s worth noting that these come up a little small, so I opted for a half size up and they were perfect. Find them in your local skate shop this month in three colourways.

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Lakai Marc Johnson Thrasher KOTR shoe

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You can pretty much tell straight away as your feet hit a new pair of kicks if they are going to be able to withstand the forces of nature that skateboarders are up against on a daily basis. Three weeks before my toes hit these new Marc Johnson’s, I was skating another pair of skate shoes that i’m sure were not even made for skateboarding, and just pushed out their to service the Dad brigade like so many are these days. Those shoes gave me a tasty heel bruise and didn’t have any cushioning whatsoever, but these new Lakai’s are the complete opposite, and enabled me to really have a crack at some new stuff due to the confidence factor. On first skate, straight out of the box, I knew I could run out of tricks and be confident that my heels were not going to be pummeled. The result, the best fucking sessions ever. Seriously.

I guess every brand has some sort of marketing chit chat to give their products but the Lakai people call it ‘Pu Shock’. It’s that crucial support needed, that’s derived from their design of absorbing impact through the sole. The last time I had a Pu Shock was back in 1991, whilst living in a student house full of skaters. The garage was housed as a dumping ground and had a blue bucket in the middle to host the eggs. The contents of this amassment were poured over a neighbours car on the eve of an LSD party that got out of hand and took the party to complete standstill. Confusion amongst many who were present was indeed priceless. Their faces bemused, disgusted and generally twisted like liquorice sticks.

Anyway, back to the shoes. These are by far the best kicks that have graced my feet this year and even come with a little Thrasher logo on the heel and KOTR branding on the tongue if you fancy the collab version. If not, they also come in various colour ways without. Put them on your Xmas list today.

Etnies Jameson 2 Eco

Remember when Etnies launched their ‘Buy a shoe, plant a tree’ initiative to restore the Costa Rican forests last year? At the time, we were sent over a pair of these to check out and they were a serious winner. This year, the quest still goes on. Etnies’ drive to make shoes made from recycled tyre parts, bottles and cork are still going strong and are still as comfortable twelve months later.

Fake vulc and a canvas upper comes stylishly packed into the most basic and lightest shoe out there right now primed to be your best mate over the summer months. The best news of all is that you can grab these in the Etnies sale that is going on right now at £44.99. They come in 13 different colours this year so treat your feet to a pair of fresh pumps that will make you feel good about giving back to world that we shred on a daily basis.

Emerica Wino shoe

I was very pleased when my favourite shoe company, Emerica, introduced a shoe dedicated to sorts like me called the Wino. I’ve been drinking actively for over a decade and it’s hard to find consistent partner for such a long period, therefore the shoe becomes ones best friend, every barfly knows this.

When they originally looked at the perfect shoe for an inebriated state, it seems they were looking for a mix between a Chuck Taylor and the classic plimsoll, thus this beautiful blend, a perfect equilibrium. The Wino has the simplicity of a plimsoll, but the widely accepted coolness of a Chuck Taylor, a diversity that sits suits any occasion, be it dinner on a yacht in Cannes or drinking K Cider on the streets of Dalston, it works either way.

The shoe design has some well thought through qualities, it was crucial to cater for swaying, so they implemented a tiny heel to compensate for this! Having that little extra support at the back ensures a forward balance and this I feel has been one of the strongest attributes to any drinking shoe. Another great feature I have noticed is if you feel the need to use your shoe laces for party tricks, the Wino looks super cool with or without laces, making them extra valuable at house parties!

The main reason I like this shoe from a consumer level is simple, they are very inexpensive. Therefore, when you’re staggering home after you’ve managed to drink yourself past the swaying heel support system, you could easily pass out wherever you are without worrying about someone stealing your shoes. If they get robbed, you can get another pair without breaking the bank! Just a tip. They also make for pretty good pillows at festivals by the way!

I love the Wino overall, but I love it most when I wake up in the morning knowing that this is as bad as my day is going to get and no matter what I do next. My winos are ready and waiting to take on the journey with me (providing I made it home and still have them of course).

A Barfly