The last time I was sat with Jerry Hsu was at Meanwhile Gardens in London years ago. The poor b’stard had slammed hard and put his shoulder out which meant game over for his trip but he was still full of beans. His resilience is partly why he’s one of the most respected out there though, he’s an innovator who has melted minds over the years with his skills on a rig and no doubt will do again in the future.
This month sees his new pro shoe, the G6, hit your local skate shop and it has been designed to almost perfection. I’ve had a pair on my feet for the last 2 weeks and the first thing you notice is the comfort involved as they firmly cup your feet with a cushion type feel. It’s a protective feeling you only get from wearing mids too, something I’d completely forgotten about as my feet have been hugging slim vulc lows for ages.
These vulcs are super light, a remarkable difference from his last pro model. They also feel a lot slimmer too with support coming from every angle. This support comes from the upper inside the shoe, known as a G6 Welded Frame, from Emerica’s spiel. It works a treat as your feet don’t move about at all.
The only negative is the beautiful red insoles tend to leave your socks pink after the first few sessions, so best not to wear whites if you don’t want them pink. It washes out fine though so hardly a biggie. The Rebound Foam they use in their insoles should give you adequate support when hitting up stairs and rails too, if that’s your game.
These are top mids. Solid design and engineering once again from one of the best skater owned shoe brands of all time.
Go find them in your local SOS and get hyped for MADE Chapter 2 coming soon.
Out of all the skate shoe companies that service our feet you have to admit that Etnies (and related Soletech brands) are pretty much the only out there that really care about what they are doing environmentally. This month their riders have flown down to Costa Rica to plant some trees that will form the Etnies eco-Forest as a direct result from the sales of these new Jameson 2 shoes that have been ecologically crafted for you to skate in.
Bike tyres have been used to create the outsole and plastic bottles re-used for the shoe laces and if you are one of those like 2P who likes to wear skate shoes without socks then these also have some magical anti-foot smelling material inside that zaps odours called Dri-Lex. I have only worn these with socks so far so if you get a pair and roll with a naked foot then please let us know if this moisture wicking anti-microbial material actually does what it says on the tin.
After wearing these for 4 weeks now they don’t seem to be ‘those hippy shoes’ that may tick all the eco boxes and then fall apart. Made of heavy canvas and a natural cotton upper, the Jameson 2 is super basic but seriously comfortable which is what I want in a skate shoe. So go out and get a pair; the least you can do is help etnies in their quest to give something back as you will not get that with other shoe brands who have no history in skateboarding and that’s a fact.
éS have posted an interview with the very rad Kellen James, complete with fresh pictures and footage on their website.
In the interview he talks about the new éS X SK8MAFIA collab, why burgundy colourways makes you hyped to look at your feet and his time in Barcelona. The pictures are dopalicious and the footage is super swish too.
Read the full piece here and enjoy the footage below.
Earlier this year we were stoked to see Eniz Fazilov kill it in Pontus Alv’s In Search Of The Miraculous and now he makes a welcome return to our screens in this short edit from the Soletech’s amazing training facility.
Have a look below for some slick lines and a nice conclusive push into the sunset of a Californian carpark.
Below: Bobby getting rubbed up in the Soletech HQ (Photo: Stanley)
Bobby Worrest is one of those rare folk in skateboarding who seem to embody what many a self-proclaimed ‘true’ skateboarder associates with both skateboarding and the extended culture that comes inherant within it. Devoid of any artsy pretense, Bobby tears up streets in the same way he’d tear through a six pack of beer, drunkenly roar through a capella renditions of Slayer or cover grotty walls with spray paint.
Bobby gives a shit about the things that matter and doesn’t waste time with the things that don’t, so you can be guaranteed that with the Bobby Worrest approved garb that éS unloaded on stores this autumn that you’ll get what you pay for. Solid materials, no-bullshit design and stuff that gets the job done in the raddest way possible. Just like his First Blood shoe (which happens to be one of our absolute favourites from the last decade) before it, we were a little more than stoked to try out some of his signature clothes.
Read on below for a top-to-toe review of Bobby’s Wrecker Cap, Chop Jacket and Worrest 2 Jean and follow this link for our linguistic rimjob of his First Blood shoe.
Wrecker Starter Hat
So let’s tackle these from the head down. Now, New Era might be what first springs to mind when thinking of fitted caps but Starter were the definitive hat brand in the late 80s and early 90s, rocking that snapped back harder than your 9-year-old self did on summer holiday trips to the seaside. Bobby’s collab with the hat-champs is a rocking callback not to awkward family trips, but thankfully recalls the styles of early east coast subway graffiti writers and b-boys alike. Awesome.
It fits nice and tight, even on my ridiculously shaped head, is super comfortable and the custom twill patch logo on the front looks dope too. Very Bobby so far…
Chop Jacket (Tobacco)
At first glance, this cotton quilted garage jacket may remind you of those that tend to frequent buses so much that they have their own pass and somehow know everyone on-board. Maybe it’s the mouldy tobacco colourway that evoked these connotations but on second glance I’m already kind of into it. In fact, my reaction to this jacket kind of went remarkably like this.
It’s as comfortable as what I’d imagine wearing your bed would be, only it’s ever so slightly more casual and inconspicuous than leaving the house in a king size duvet. So when it’s spuds-u-like outside (like the perpetually freezing east coast) you can keep cozy. Want proof? Try to imagine Bobby Worrest shivering… you can’t. Bobby Worrest doesn’t shiver.
The colourway itself is so beige it’s actually rad, plus the twin front pockets are deep enough to carry all your bus passes, bits of tissue and snack size mars bars. If you’re not sold on first glance, then you’ll be surprised how styling you could be in this. It does the jacket job, and it does it well.
Eli Shirt (Gold)
A collection can never be without a woven plaid flannel number, and the Eli is a fine example of how to fully complete a clothing line. The Eli comes in a traditional red/black colourway for all those who love buying into all that wood-chopping, animal-loving, cigarette-smoking, beer-swilling malarky and in this mustardy gold/yellow that we were told to wear and tear. Generally, it’s as hard to stand-out with flannel shirt design as it is to go wrong with it, but this particular colourway is a rare gem that you won’t find in the local market.
The Eli is a mid-weight flannel that serves as a solid layer to aid you in your constant battle against the bitter winds of winter but not feel too bulky while out skating. There’s dual chest pocket action providing a miniature time capsule into the 50s should you choose to keep a comb or pack of smokes close to your heart. Overall, a versatile piece of comfortable cotton in traditional buffalo plaid and a worthy addition to your wardrobe that’s probably filled with substitute picnic blankets as it already is.
Worrest 2 (Midnight Wash)
These denim wonders are nowhere near as poetic as the colourway ‘midnight wash’ might implicate, a definite good thing. If my arguement why you should be repping Worrest’s signature gear is primarily concerned with how it replicates the ‘get shit done’ mentality then these jeans would be the perfect example. These are a refreshingly plain pair of jeans that combine cotton with stretch denim to provide that massively comfortable bit of give. They are a regular fit and haven’t once irritated the areas most frustratingly prone to irritation. That’s right gents, your balls are safe. Bobby wouldn’t have it any other way.
The usual five pockets are there in the usual places, the fly zips up and down easily, the little shield éS logo is a nice touch and it even comes complete with a patterned shoelace belt to save you raiding your wardrobe for a spare. I couldn’t ask for a better pair of jeans. Bobby and éS come up trumps yet again with these. Highly recommended.
When we visited Soletech’s labs in LA last summer, Bobby Worrest’s collection was being prepped and looked like one of the highlights of 2010. A year later and Bobby’s signature éS shoe the First Blood is being voted by most skaters as one of the best shoes on the market.
This month Bobby has collab’d his successful shoe with Cycle– a graffiti artist famous for his artwork spanning over 20 years in Washington DC. The 2 guys met in a local bar, shot the shit and got their heads down to design this end product.
The shoes are strong, comfortable and lightweight and made from a wonderful shiny leather that makes you feel as though you have more than just a skate shoe on your feet. The tongue is not too fat that it gets in the way, the System G2™ heel cushioning gel insert provides cushioning only found in a Soletech shoe which feels perfect and skate straight out of the box.
The suede versions of course tend to get battered a little harder where your feet scrape the griptape when you ollie so these leather versions should last you a little longer which is worth thinking about if you go through skate shoes like Chunk does Baby Ruth’s.
If just one look at this tee doesn’t make your mind scream ‘THAT… is the best t-shirt I’ve seen in my entire life’ then I don’t think I can trust you. It’s not often that a photograph can capture something so perfect that no response can be accused of being hyperbole but here is an example. Printed on this Etnies t-shirt is that shot of a skater bombing down the Interstate 405 flippin’ off the commuting collective that emerged on Go Skateboarding Day in 2008, and it is nothing short of the best thing ever. Don’t try to analyse it. Whatever you do, don’t put yourselves in the mind of any of the drivers either because that makes you a cock. This, whether you love it or hate it, is skateboarding defined: being free, being against the grain and just not giving a damn about anyone else.
Aside from being able to replace any bad things in your life with feelings of AWESOME, this t shirt is a regular fitting tee and comes in either black or white which is enough to satisfy anyone’s taste in what you like to cover your nips with I’m sure. Get it, or just look at it, whatever, just let it make you feel good.
It’s no secret that Altamont is a skateboard thread with a difference. They have diversity in their lines and produce cloth of the highest standards. When being treated with the honour of giving their product the wear and tear test on this occasion, I got hold of some Alameda denim’s and a T-Shirt collab between Altamont and the coolest cartoonist to ever grace paper with pencil, Ralph Steadman.
If you are yet to set legs in a pair of Altamont denim then I can simply say you are missing out on a revolution in skate apparel. These 98% cotton / 2% spandex five-pocket Kurabo denims were designed purposely for skateboarding with style. The abraised denim itself is rather heavy and very soft with superior craftsmanship in finish. Andrew Reynold’s designed these himself and even though they are quite skinny – let us not forgot the legs belonging to the man who is designing these jeans here – they fit comfortably and work a treat both on and off the board. Go get some.
For those not in the know, Ralph Steadman is the genius behind every illustration that ever accompanied the Gonzo Journalism by heavyweight author, Hunter S. Thompson. The two of them go together like independent trucks and pool coping, a perfect match. Altamont collaborated with Ralph and brought a range of Tees that showcase work out of ‘The Curse of Lono’, the book referred to as Fear and Loathing in Hawaii! It’s one Tachen’s finest presses in my books and I highly recommend you get hold of a copy for Ralph’s drawings alone; every sketch is a cerebral piece.
Altamont’s collabs have been consistently good over the years and I like very much that someone finally put Steadman’s visuals on cotton, his work should be seen by everyone, it’s truly unique! If you ever thought of getting your hands on a classic Steadmans, then I highly recommend you start with The Curse of Lono. It’s filled with great art and Hunter S. Thomspon writes a damn good story as per usual, but who could doubt that?
I find myself three hours into a cross-Atlantic flight, mindlessly eating vacuum-packed sludge while I watch Drew’s section from This Is Skateboarding for the nine thousandth time and doing everything I can to avoid eye-contact with the strangely terrifying person I have had the misfortune of being sat next to.
It is at this moment I realise that the flight attendant is in fact Gok Wan, had he lived on Californian breakfast burritos throughout his entire life and actually didn’t know how to look good naked, at all. He even had that horrible accent. ‘Coffee Sir?’ I shudder to recall, even now. In terror, I mistakenly look at the person sitting next to me and discover what can only be Dibble’s long-lost twin brother. Shit the bed and sleep in it, no wonder I was scared (I kid, I kid). None the less, I named him Dobble. I couldn’t help but wonder though: Is this flight filled with doppelgangers a cryptic omen of what is to come? Well, kind of.
Wait, what? So here’s what this account is about. Our skateboarding brothers at Sole Tech (Etnies, éS, Emerica, Altamont) kindly invited us skateboarding media-types from around the globe to stop lurking in our respective countries and come and hang out at their labs in Orange County, CA to get an insight into the ever-progressing System G2 heel cushion and E-Suede, have a skate in the super Etnies Training Facility and get a sneak preview of some of the shoes dropping later this year. Sounds too good to be true, right?
For a while, as I looked over to Dobble to check if he was asleep so I could have a piss without talking to him, I thought it was. But after twenty-six hours of battling through snow, customs (are you SERIOUS, America?), terrible in-flight movies and vicious lookalikes I ended up in Pierre’s Marina Lofts ready for three days of non-stop skateboarding. Here’s how this epic sausage-fest went down.
The Euros arrive first, before things really kick off (in more ways than one). Our wonderful host, James Appleby from Sole Tech Europe greets us with one of the countless cans of Blue Ribbon (imagine Coors Light, but lighter) and shows us around our home for the weekend. Pierre knows how to fucking LIVE. Yet despite these fairly spectacular distractions, it’s only a short amount of time before we all nerd out and start showing each other our magazines, scene videos and exchange some stories from where we’re all from. We are skateboarders after all; contrary to mainstream belief, we’re the friendliest neeks out there. Give us a beer and a laptop and there’s no stopping us.
The Euro-pad (unsurprisingly the smaller of the lofts, and even more unsurprisingly the cleaner of the two at the end of the trip) was shared by Fred Demard from France’s Soma Magazine, Angel Sanz from Uno reppin’ Barcelona, Holger Von Krosigk from Germany’s Place Magazine, the Italian Davide Biondani and the Dutch Love-Machine, Jeroen Smeets on behalf of Reload Magazine. Straight-up the raddest roommates an awkward Essex lad from Wales could ask for; and all as passionate about this ridiculous wooden thing on wheels that has dictated our entire lives, and brought us all together for this trip. Planes, delicious Blue Beet cuisine and early blogging don’t half take it out of you mind. Get the sleep in while you bloody well can.
The day begins with James having fun pretending to be a photography tutor guiding us around Newport Beach while we all have fun pretending (badly) not to be tourists. Those cameras permanently attached to our faces weren’t fooling anyone, and there I was wearing nothing but a flimsy t-shirt during California’s ‘terrible weather’ period. James looks at me and grumbles, ‘you’re so obviously British‘. Outed!
Back at the lofts, it’s time for the arrival of the American press dudes. Without so much as a ‘Hey, what’s up?’, Etnies Marketing Head Honcho and part-time lunatic, Ashton Maxfield barges into Euro-Pad sporting nothing more than shades and a killer tache, picks up a chair and throws it out the window as if it had dissed said killer tache and spat in his face. The broken chair is then assembled into a pile and set alight; less than ten minutes later Holger runs outside and throws a mean frontside flip over the small inferno. The weekend has landed.
After geeking out over the staggering awesomeness of Mindfield for the rest of the afternoon, Pierre André and Don Brown, the masterminds behind Sole Tech and freestyle legends, introduce themselves and take us on a cruise in Newport Harbour. Meeting people of such status is often unnerving, but can of Blue Ribbon in hand and a ridiculous leather chair made of skateboards to laugh at, talking to the two is just like standing on a mini-ramp platform, chatting about nothing and happily sharing the unmatched atmosphere that is generated by skateboarding. If you want people to look after your feet when shralping, these are the guys are who you go for. Additionally, if you want people to throw a BBQ with an impromptu food-fight, these are also the dudes to see. Check out the footage courtesy of the Skateboard Mag’s three-trick extraordinaire and generally super-rad broseph, Paul ‘Animal’ Chan. Messy…
There are two perfect remedies for a monster Blue Ribbon hangover. Coffee, and -apparently- Bloody Marys. At least, this was what was on offer after shaking hands with The Boss and The Other Boss at the Sole Tech Institute. I’m not even kidding. Bloody Marys work a treat too! They go down damn fine with some tasty new shoes too, which is after all what we were all here to see this morning, after Don arrives fresh from the slammer that is. Pro tip: if you find yourself being accosted by the police who are yelling “What are you doing?! Do you want to be arrested?!” while drunkenly trying to drive some unknown dude’s boat down Newport Blvd at three in the morning, do not, whatever you do, reply with “HELL YEAH!”
All in the name – Don Brown is a Don.
First up are Etnies, and a cheeky look into the gorgeous Black Label collaboration that serves as Kyle Leeper’s new pro model. The Perro is a great shoe in itself, boasting the new Kevlar fabric addition to the System G2 Cushioning Gel. Kevlar is the same material used in bullet-proof vests, and protect your heels as if they were guarding the President through the not-so-blue states. On top of that, you have some gnarly Black Label graphic that keeps style looking tight, whilst obviously not slacking on substance. Be hyped because the shoe has dropped alongside the new Black Label video. Oh, there’s also a Thunder Collab to get hyped on – did I mention in the photoblog that the tag is a riser pad? Well, it is, and come on, how cool is that?
éS are next, and Bobby Worrest is summoned to the stage to speak a little about his debut shoe. The hangover may have got the better of him and Bobby’s conclusion on these bad boys is “yeah, they’re good. I like them.” Similar to Cardiff’s loveable Pirate Man, Bobby is an all-round nice guy, and has a soft-spot for Rambo. ‘First Blood‘ is the name of his shoe and you know what? They’re pretty damn good, and I bloody like them. A lot. I’m wearing them right now as I type this very sentence. Aesthetically simple, technologically awesome. The Sole Tech lab geeks are skaters too remember. They know what we want.
The Boss, coffee in hand, is up next and delivers a cool, calm and straight-to-the-point speech on why his new Cruiser shoes are boss, why Altamont’s Fall line-up is boss and why working for Soletech is boss. After a short video of Drew being Drew, he takes a sip of coffee and poignantly remarks how he ‘just wants to work with skaters’, with a nod towards Pierre and everyone in the room feeling some wonderful bromance. If it wasn’t for the upcoming visit to the TF, I’d have whacked my laptop out and posted in the Stoked thread on Sidewalk before BDF could say edit my post and imply that I am a gaylord. We all love the bromance.
Just before invading the mind-blowing awesomeness of the Etnies Training Facility (or Etnies TF if you want to abbreviate things and therefore resemble someone who is cool and abbreviates things) we had some more traditional Californian cuisine, courtesy of Mexico, that tastes delicious but does unspeakable things to a European stomach. In this interim, a couple of us now dicky-tummied Euros had the pleasure of speaking with Rob Carlos, a designer from Etnies Plus. Etnies Plus are already known for making some bad ass collabs with killer artists, and we were happy to hear of a future collaboration with So-Me of Ed Banger Records. I don’t know about you, but I’m hyped.
I won’t go into too much detail about the incredible TF, as any footage of the place speaks for itself. But let me just tell you that journalist types can shred too! Holger tore the place apart with style and the other French Fred got buck-wild on the mini. Animal Chan and I rinsed our three tricks for four hours and then sat back and happily watched as Malto, Bledsoe, Worrest and Mikey Taylor showed us all up. Check the brief interview I had with Mikey to hear his recollection on the GNARLIEST slam / collision I have ever seen. Ridiculous. Click here for an interview with him from this trip.
Before we hit the bars, we had an in-depth tour into the STI Lab (imagine what The Berrics might have looked like if it were designed by Steve Berra and Dexter; as in the loveable, animated, four-eyed, ginger genius, not the serial killer played by Michael Hall). Inside the labs were a lot of things, that a lot of us honestly had no understanding of whatsoever. Apart from ESPN’s Josh Brooks, who came out of his shell and revealed himself to be a secret physics nerd: so big ups to him, his knowledge of forces and his awesome RUN DMC style Obama tee. The tour itself was a fantastic insight into how these things we throw on our feet and slowly ruin are put together; just check out the pictures and peep the relentless testing each shoe is subjected to before it is deemed safe and worthy of making your feet look and feel a lot nicer.
And it was in that lab that I came to realise the significance of those doppelgangers that plagued my journey out here. It’s all to do with repetition and difference, something that Sole Tech has nailed. Steve Neale is a known bunty man (as anyone who has studied film will back me up on), but he did spearhead this particular theory on how things are constantly improved by repeating elements that work, and playing with them ever so slightly to make something new and great. Sole Tech are doing just that. System G2 was great, but adding the Kevlar and creating G2 Platinum is perfect evidence of making something great, well, greater. The same can be applied to E-Suede. Look at the comparison of suede and e-suede after 2500 rotations in the KICKFLIP MACHINE (!) to see what I’m getting at.
Unfortunately the same praise cannot be said about American Airlines, as I sit back in my chair on my flight back to London and continue to get offered disgusting coffee by an even shittier Gok Wan variation… all the while trying not to make eye-contact with what appears to be someone I will later name ‘Dubble’.
Did you know that when throwing yourself down the London Bridge ten, more often than not you exert around 18-times body weight straight onto your heel or toes?
Eternal props to all the dudes at Sole Tech for bringing us media-heads together and showing us all how these things on our feet and body we often take for granted is so generously made for us without asking for anything in return other than your support. Extra thanks to James for being a rad host, and all the safe-as-fuck dudes I had the pleasure of meeting out there. And big up skateboarding, for being the greatest fucking thing in the world.
If you enjoyed this feature, click here with an interview from back in February 2006 with Pierre André Senizergues.