Don’t Look Up
The longer you ride a skateboard, the more particular you get. Constantly looking down makes you a critic. Twisted laces, slipped axles, flat spots, or stray rocks have caused countless focuses. Shoes are no exception to madness, in fact, they’re central to it. Whether it’s Stefan digging his heels in for his signature shoe, P-Rod being the first to the Ten Club, or Yuto getting gold in a never-released slip, it’s about process as much as the podium. For 20 years SB’s been able to leverage tech, design, and insight to get it just right for those who are driven by the details.
Zoom Paul Rodriguez
P is for Prodigy? OK, it’s actually Paul but prodigy was a term thrown around before P-Rod stuck. So when Nike SB linked up with a generational talent to create his first signature shoe, the goal was to solve a simple problem: beef without bulk. The Nike SB Zoom Paul Rodriguez answered with innovation, adding Zoom Air to the heel, making it the first Nike SB to feature the tech. A midsole shank plate was added for primo protection, setting off a new legacy for P-Rod and SB.
While Stefan Janoski’s loose, lanky style has been his trademark, there’s nothing carefree about his creative process. That’s a good thing because when the idea of Stefan getting a signature shoe was first floated, the initial samples didn’t match his vision and we’re all better for it. Instead, Stefan dug in and sought a shoe slimmer than SB had ever offered with an unexpected aesthetic, including a cork insole as an homage to his family’s winery. Released in 2009, the Nike SB Zoom Stefan Janoski has been released in 1,530+ different versions. Cheers to getting what you want.
Over his legendary career, it was no secret that Eric Koston was drawing from Nike heritage to create his signature shoes. A footwear enthusiast before the colloquial term “sneakerhead,” was overused and abused for anyone paying over retail, a Koston/SB marriage felt inevitable. When he hit the free-agent market, it was game on. Feeling like “a kid in a candy store,” Koston and SB charged through two minimalist signature models before going all-in on the Koston 3 Hyperfeel, the first skate shoe to figure an integrated Flyknit Collar sock, causing message board controversy before it even hit the shoe walls worldwide.
Zoom Omar Salazar
Five years after joining the SB program, Omar Salazar’s first signature shoe dropped with innovation aplomb and some down and dirty details. Omar’s all-in approach demanded cushioning, stability, comfort, and grip and the Nike SB Zoom Omar Salazar checked all the boxes in a modern silhouette with a classic Nike feel. Using Flywire strengthening, a Zoom Air midsole, hidden pull tab windows, and the absolutely essential low key stash pocket in the tongue. Omar’s debut matched the yin and yang of skateboarding’s physical and mental demands.
Let’s run up the facts. Since his debut, no one’s measured up to Nyjah Huston’s achievements, contest winnings, and milestones. He defines elite and his first signature shoe with Nike SB had to not only perform—it had to go above and beyond. The Nike SB Nyjah Free was focused on 360 flexibility, using a rubber upper to provide the stability, durability, and control for whatever boundary he wants to break next. That meant rethinking the design process from soup to nuts, resulting in a shoe as unique as Nyjah himself.
A member of the SB squad since the age of 13, Shane O’Neill’s output has been shaped by precision, progress, and finesse. As one of the most naturally gifted skateboarders ever to do it, Shane’s technique and trick selection has been impeccable for years. 15 years into his tenure with SB, the Nike SB Shane was launched. Crispy, clean, and with the attention to detail you’d expect from a perfectionist, The Shane utilized a three-material split construction, using suede overlays, a nubuck forefoot, durable canvas mid, and vulcanized sole. Carefully considered like Shane’s skating, his debut signature shoe added unique touches such as the lace protection system and sun branding logo on the heel and tongue.
In 2013, Ishod Wair became the first African American to land skateboarding’s most coveted honor, Thrasher Magazine’s Skater of the Year Award. He was dominating before, after, and continues to prove that excellence with every clip. A flair for the finer things and particular as all hell, his debut signature shoe was developed over two years with originality being its design Northstar. As the pandemic hit, that meant hours FaceTiming with the SB design team to achieve that new, as they sought to rethink skate shoes but also add nods to Nike’s deep basketball heritage. It had to be light, durable, comfortable, and of course, it had to look dope but match Ishod’s style. Starting with a vulcanized cupsole construction, The Nike SB Ishod Wair answered his performance needs and pushed the shoe towards tech, adding a flexible mesh mid, and a hidden lacing system to avoid rips and wear. Lastly, it had to hit the second you slipped it on. The verdict? In his own words, “kickflips bussin’ straight out the box.”
20 Years of Nike SB continued its Euro trip across the continent as it headed south to Barcelona for a weekend of video premieres, exhibit openings, shop hangs, wear tests, and, of course, skateboarding.