Signature footwear has been an integral part of professional sports ever since Chuck Taylor put his name on the Converse All Star in 1932. But in the world of professional skateboarding, the concept of athlete-endorsed shoes took a long time to gain traction.
Actually, nobody wanted a pro shoe at first. When skate footwear brand Airwalk presented Tony Hawk with a prototype for what could have been the world’s first signature skateboarding shoe in 1989, the most famous skateboarder in the world said no. At the same time, pro skateboarder Claus Grabke had a similar offer in Germany, but thought it a silly idea as well.
But soon after, the first pro-endorsed skateboard shoes came to market and three models opened the floodgates: In 1989, European skateboard brand Etnies released the first-ever pro skateboarding shoe, the Natas Kaupas signature model. It was followed by the “Senix” model for pro freestyle skateboarder Pierre-André Senizergues. Over in the United States, original Bones Brigade member Steve Caballero released his first pro model shoe on Vans that same year. It still remains the longest-running signature shoe franchise in all of skateboarding 30 years later.
CELEBRATING 30 YEARS OF PRO SKATE SHOES
With that said, pro skateboarding shoes have since become an institution in skateboarding. Not to mention the biggest paycheck in any professional skateboarder’s salary, second only to energy drink royalties.
After a bit of a lackluster start in the late 1980s, pro skate kicks went viral when the DC Shoe Company barged onto the scene in 1994 with a collection solely composed of signature skate shoes. This caused an explosion in the number and variety of models on shoe walls. Milestones included the first air units in skate shoes (endorsed by Eric Koston), vegan materials (Ed Templeton), weed stashes (Chad Muska), ultra-puffy silhouettes (Dave Mayhew), and skateable slip-ons (Dylan Rieder).
To celebrate 30 years of signature skateboarding shoes, ILLUMINATED PAPER teamed up with the Museum of Skateboarding History in Berlin for a rare showcase. Here’s your chance to see 30 iconic signature skateboarding shoes and learn some background on their respective pro riders and genesis. All shoe models listed here are listed with the dates they were released and may not be the very first model of the respective pro skater.
Natas Kaupas Pro | Etnies | 1989
The shoe that started it all! Natas Kaupas is an influential street skater, graphic designer and artist from Santa Monica, California. He is regarded as one of the pioneers of modern-day street skateboarding together with Mark Gonzales. A long-time pro for SMA skateboards, Kaupas started 101 Skateboards out of World Industries in 1991. In 1989, the Natas Kaupas signature shoe released by French skateboard shoe company Etnies became the first professionally endorsed skateboarding shoe of all time.
The Etnies Natas high-top model took design cues from popular basketball shoes such as the Nike Air Jordan and featured a rubber ollie guard. After an almost career-ending injury in the early 1990s, Natas Kaupas made a comeback in 1998 to join Vita shoes as a designer and team rider. In 2002, Kaupas designed a Nike Dunk shoe in a custom colorway and joined Quiksilver as a designer. Today, Natas resides in Santa Monica working on art projects and limited-edition skateboard decks.
Natas Kaupas was inducted into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame in 2014.
Steve Caballero Pro | VANS | 1989
Enter the Dragon! As a member of the original Bones Brigade team, Steve Caballero from San Jose, California, is one of skateboarding’s true innovators. He entered the spotlight as a talented rookie in the late 1970s and is credited with inventing moves such as the Caballerial (a fakie 360° ollie) and the frontside boardslide. Known for his smooth style, Caballero also plays guitar in skate rock band The Faction.
Caballero counts among the first three skateboarders to endorse a signature shoe next to Natas Kaupas and Pierre André Senizergues. In 1989, Vans released Caballero’s pro model, still the longest-running pro shoe franchise in skateboarding today. Meeting the demands of a new generation of street skateboarding, Vans introduced the mid-top Half Cab model in 1992. Over 25 years later, the highly popular Vans Half Cab remains one of the most imitated shoe designs in skateboard history.
Steve Caballero was inducted into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame in 2010.
Sal Barbier SLB | etnies | 1994
Hailing from Baton Rouge, CA, Salvadore Lucas Barbier (SLB) took street skating to the next level as part of the H-Street and Plan B teams in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Known as the inventor of the “Sal Flip”, Barbier joined the Etnies shoes team in 1991. His feedback played a major role in many shoe designs, especially low-cut shoes that would become the norm around 1993. In 1996, Sal founded Elwood Clothing and 23 Skateboards. He later started the Aesthetics brand and the SLB skate shop in Hollywood, California, in the late 2000s.
In 1994, Etnies released the Sal Barbier pro shoe, featuring embroidery of the enigmatic number 23. Next to Michael Jordan, the number has been attributed to the secret Illuminati society in sci-fi author Robert Anton Wilson’s book saga. The SLB pro shoe has since been re-released numerous times due to mass demand and remains the best-selling Etnies pro shoe of all time.
Jason Lee Pro | Airwalk | 1995
Jason Lee is a highly influential professional skateboarder, actor and photographer born and raised in Santa Ana, California. Together with Mark Gonzales and the Blind Skateboards team, Jason Lee introduced a new vision of street skating in “Video Days,” a promotional video released in 1991. One year later, Jason Lee created the art-minded Stereo Skateboards brand with Chris Pastras.
In 1995, Jason Lee released a signature pro model shoe on Airwalk, his long-time shoe sponsor. It was loosely based on the Airwalk “Sorry” model and brought back in 2000 as “The Tribute” model. In 2010, Lee endorsed a pro slip-on shoe, the Bodega, on Dekline Footwear. His successful acting career includes performances in movies such as “Chasing Amy” and “Mallrats”, as well as hit TV-series “My Name Is Earl” that made him a household name. Lee currently resides in Denton, Texas, and has been documenting roadside Americana in an ongoing photography series. He still has a mean 360 kickflip.
Jason Lee was inducted into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame in 2019.
Kareem Campbell ‘KCK’ | DuFFS | 1995
Born in Harlem, New York, Kareem Campbell cut his teeth as a young street skater on the streets of Los Angeles, California. As a pro rider on Steve Rocco’s World Industries brand, Campbell became a figurehead of technical street skateboarding in the early 1990s. As a successful entrepreneur, he founded skate footwear brand Axion and assembled an all-star team on his hardgoods brand Menace Skateboards (later City Stars). Kareem Campbell was also immortalized as a playable character in the hit video game series “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater”.
In 1995, DuFFS Shoes released Kareem Campbell’s first pro model: Designed by Campbell himself, the KCK model – short for “Kareem Campbell Kicks” – presented a departure from the established formula of all-suede skateboard shoes. Executed in smooth leather on a natural gum cup sole, the KCK took skate shoes into a more athletic direction in the mode of silhouettes like the Reebok Workout Plus model. The street-savvy design instantly struck a chord with skateboarders. The KCK’s success inspired Campbell to launch his own skateboard shoe brand, Axion Footwear, in 1997.
Tony Hawk Pro | Airwalk | 1995
Single-handedly the world’s most famous skateboarder, Tony Hawk has done it all. Born and raised in San Diego, California, the star of the Tony Hawk Pro Skateboarder video games franchise has made a lasting contribution to skateboarding by inventing countless tricks – including the 720°, kickflip McTwist, as well as the 900° – and starting a number of successful companies.
In a little-known side story, Hawk almost became the world’s first skateboarder to endorse a signature skate shoe: When his shoe sponsor Airwalk presented him a sample for a pro model in 1989, Hawk said no. But in 1995, he released his first pro model for the brand – and two follow-ups – before joining Adio Footwear in 1997. After endorsing numerous shoes for his eponymous company, Hawk Shoes, the Birdman released a signature model on Lakai, the Airwalk Protoype-inspired ‘Proto’, in 2018.
Tony Hawk was inducted into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame in 2009.
Eric Koston 1 | éS Footwear | 1997
Born in Bangkok, Thailand, Eric Koston is a highly influential professional skateboarder residing in Los Angeles, California. As a founding member of Girl Skateboards, Koston has built a legacy of groundbreaking skateboard maneuvers, including backside noseblunt slide on San Francisco’s notorious Hubba Hideout ledge. He was named Thrasher Magazine’s Skater of the Year in 1996 and co-owns The Berrics skate park and skateboarding website with Steve Berra.
Eric Koston’s first pro model shoe on éS Footwear, the Koston1, raised the bar for technical skateboard shoe designs with features like the first “air” impact absorption system in a skateboarding shoe. After endorsing seven signature shoes with éS Footwear, Koston joined Lakai Footwear in 2006 and released a remake of the Koston1 in 2008. One year later, he left Lakai for the Nike SB brand, for which he has endorsed numerous pro model shoes, including the futuristic Koston 3 Hyperfeel. In 2018, Eric Koston co-founded the Numbers Edition skateboards brands together with Guy Mariano.
Eric Koston was inducted into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame in 2010.
Guy Mariano | Axion | 1997
Hailing from Los Angeles, California, Guy Mariano turned heads as a child prodigy in 1989’s Powell-Peralta Skateboards video “Ban This”. After turning pro on upstart label Blind Skateboards, Mariano joined his long-time board sponsor, Girl Skateboards in 1993. His name has since become synonymous with constantly pushing the technical boundaries of technical street skating.
Following a short stint on the Converse skate shoes team, Mariano joined Kareem Campbell’s brand Axion Footwear in 1997 and endorsed several pro model shoes for the company. After a brief disappearance from the spotlight, Mariano made a strong comeback as part of the Lakai Footwear team in 2007’s “Fully Flared” video. Today, he rides for Nike SB and is a co-owner of the Numbers Edition skateboards brand with Eric Koston.
Guy Mariano was inducted into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame in 2018.
Cara-Beth Burnside Pro | Vans | 1997
Hailing from Orange, California, Cara-Beth Burnside raised the bar for female boardsports athletes throughout her prolific skateboarding and snowboarding career. In 1989, she made history as the first female skateboarder to grace the cover of Thrasher Magazine. It was at a time when women were the exception, not the rule in skateboarding. For an entire generation of girls who shred, the outspoken vegetarian was the main ambassador for women in skateboarding.
In 1997, Cara-Beth Burnside won consecutive gold medals in halfpipe snowboarding at the Winter X Games and vertical skateboarding at the Summer X Games. That same year, Burnside became the first female skateboarder to endorse a signature professional shoe, the “CB” pro model on Vans. Built on a cupsole construction, the shoe featured an all-suede upper with the letters “CB” embroidered on the heel. She endorsed several pro model shoes during her 20-year tenure with Vans. In 2005, Cara-Beth Burnside co-founded the Action Sports Alliance, a non-profit aimed at providing better opportunities for female skateboarders.
Cara-Beth Burnside was inducted into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame in 2015.
Chad Muska Pro | éS Footwear | 1997
Originally from Lorain, Ohio, Chad Muska broke onto the skateboarding scene as a young amateur for the Toy Machine Skateboards brand. With a penchant for big stairs and handrails, Muska soon emerged as one of the most marketable pros of the mid-1990s street skating era. Known for his close involvement in the design of all products bearing his name, “The Muska” endorsed highly successful pro skateboard decks, wheels, shoes and apparel. He also produced hip-hop tracks on his Muskabeatz label. Muska now resides In Los Angeles as a designer and fine artist.
In 1997, Chad Muska released his first signature shoe on éS Footwear. The highly technical shoe, co-designed by Muska and footwear designer Franck Boistel, took skate footwear to higher ground as the first shoe to retail above $100. Next to athletic features such as PU inserts and lace loops, it also introduced a hidden stash pocket that went viral on mainstream media as a “weed stash”. In 1999, Muska left éS to become the headline pro on C1RCA Footwear next to Jamie Thomas. He released a popular C1RCA shoe featuring the stash pocket. Muska’s further contributions to skate shoe design include the best-selling Skytop model for SUPRA, the brand he co-founded with Angel Cabada in 2006.
Matt Hensley Pro | DuFFS | 1998
Hailing from Vista, California, Matt Hensley was one of the pacesetters of the late 1980s street skateboarding revolution. His unique style influenced skateboarders the world over via performances in videos including “Shackle Me Not” and “Hokus Pokus”. A long-time pro for H-Street Skateboards, Hensley joined the elite Plan B Skateboards team in 1991. He later endorsed a pro model on Black Label Skateboards.
In 1997, California-based footwear label DuFFS released Matt Hensley’s signature pro shoe. Rendered in all black, it featured a cupsole construction and Hensley’s signature on the tongue. Outside of skateboarding, Hensley has played the accordion in gold record-status band Flogging Molly for over two decades. He still tours the world with his music. His cut-off army shorts and chain wallets have inspired skateboarder’s wardrobe choices since the late 1980s.
Matt Hensley was inducted into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame in 2018.
Daewon Song 2 | DVS | 1999
Born in Seoul, South Korea, Daewon Song entered the spotlight with a seminal performance in the 1991 World Industries video “Love Child”. Throughout his successful career, Daewon Song has pushed the boundaries of technical street skateboarding in influential skate videos including “New World Order”, “Twenty-Shot Sequence” and “Skate More”. Together with long-time friend Rodney Mullen, he was part of Deca and Almost Skateboards and launched his own brand, Thank You Skateboards, with Torey Pudwill in 2018.
Daewon Song joined DVS Shoes in 1996 and endorsed 14 pro model shoes throughout his 20-year tenure with the brand. The DVS Daewon 1 model arrived in 1998, and the sequel dropped at a time when “tech” shoes were trending in skateboarding and looks similar to a running shoe. Daewon was named Thrasher Magazine’s Skater of the Year in 2006 and signed onto the adidas Skateboarding shoe team in 2016.
Daewon Song was inducted into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame in 2017.
John Cardiel Pro | Vans | 1999
Hailing from Northern California, John Cardiel broke the boundaries of what is possible on a skateboard with his gnarly all-terrain skateboarding. He broke onto the scene in the early 1990s as a rookie pro for Black Label skateboards. Cardiel traveled the world as part of the infamous Hell Ride crew, laying waste to skate parks and street spots from the U.S. to Australia, Brazil and Europe. In 1992, Thrasher Magazine named Cardiel Skater of the Year. In 1995, Cardiel became a founding member of one of the industry’s most respected skateboard brands, Anti Hero Skateboards. His career milestones include 2001’s video part in TransWorld Skateboarding’s “Sight Unseen”.
Throughout his over 25-year-long relationship with Vans, Cardiel has released numerous pro shoes, including the Estilo and Vans X Anti Hero John Cardiel Old Skool Pro models. During a 2004 skateboarding tour of Australia, Cardiel suffered a back injury that doctors said would leave him unable to walk. Defying the odds, Cardiel regained the use of his legs and has since been an avid fixed gear bike rider and was featured in 2015’s Vans Propeller video with the first skateboarding footage since the accident.
John Cardiel was inducted into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame in 2015.
Bob Burnquist Pro | éS Footwear | 1999
Representing Brazil, Bob Burnquist exploded onto the international skateboarding scene in the mid-1990s on the strength of his all-terrain talent and innovative switch-stance moves. After turning pro for Anti Hero Skateboards, Burnquist found a new home with his current board sponsor Flip Skateboards. He is a fierce competitor and earned 14 X Games gold medals. Overall, he holds the most medals – 30 in total – in the event’s history. After dominating the Big Air discipline, Burnquist retired from X Games competitions in 2017 and now invents new moves at his own ‘Dreamland’ skatepark in Vista, California.
In 1996, Bob Burnquist joined the elite éS Footwear team, the sister company of Etnies shoes. One year later, he was named Thrasher Magazine’s Skater of the Year. He also ranked among Rolling Stone Magazine’s most important athletes. In 1999, éS Footwear released the progressive Burnquist signature model. The cupsole shoe featured a visible air pocket, reinforced PU toe protection and bootie-style entry in a mid-top silhouette.
Bob Burnquist was inducted into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame in 2010.
Mark Gonzales 2 | Adidas | 2000
Raised in South Gate, California, Mark Gonzales pioneered a new form of street skating in the mid-1980s. Together with Natas Kaupas, Gonzales was one of the first professional skateboarders to skate handrails as early as 1986. “The Gonz” created the influential Blind Skateboards brand in 1991 and made a lasting impact on skateboarding with the “Video Days” video directed by Spike Jonze.
In 1994, Mark Gonzales created a series of artistically customized shoes in cooperation with German footwear brand adidas. The relationship became official when Gonzales signed with adidas as his shoe sponsor in 1998. That same year, he staged an influential art performance at Städtisches Museum in Abteiberg, Germany. Gonzales released numerous pro model shoes with the three stripes over the years, including 2018’s Aloha Super model. Now living in New York City, Gonzales is a world-renowned artist and the owner of Krooked Skateboards.
Mark Gonzales was inducted into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame in 2012.
Stevie Williams Pro | DC Shoe Co | 2000
Originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Stevie Williams entered the skateboarding spotlight as a young rookie nicknamed “Lil Stevie” in the early 1990s. On the strength of heavy-hitting video parts in in Transworld Skateboarding’s “The Reason” and 1999’s “Chocolate Tour”, Williams evolved into one of the most marketable pros of the late 1990s era. In the year 2000s, he joined the team of the DC Shoe Company and released the first Stevie Williams pro model shoe.
Designed by shoe designer and professional skateboarder Alphonzo Rawls, the DC Stevie Williams model remains one of the best-selling skate shoes of all time. In a much-debated power move, Williams left DC Shoes to spearhead the RBK skateboard division of athletic footwear brand Reebok in 2004. That same year, he planted the seed for his own skateboard label DGK – short for “Dirty Ghetto Kids” – under the umbrella of the Kayo Corporation. In 2012, he released his signature SW1 model on SUPRA Footwear. TransWorld Skateboarding magazine honored Stevie Williams as one of their “30 Most Influential Skateboarders Of All Time”.
Elissa Steamer Pro | Etnies | 2001
Hailing from Fort Myers, Florida, Elissa Steamer is credited with raising the bar for female skateboarding. The technical street skater became a household name with her groundbreaking performance in 1994’s Toy Machine video “Welcome to Hell”. She turned pro for the company in 1998, making her one of the first women to receive a pro model skateboard. She later released pro models on Bootleg and Zero Skateboards. Steamer was also the first female skateboarder featured in the hit video game series “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater”.
In 2001, Elissa Steamer became one of the first women in skateboarding to endorse a pro model skateboarding shoe when she released the Etnies Steamer, which she co-designed. In 2003, Steamer was voted Check It Out Girl Magazine’s “Female Skater of the Year”. No stranger to skateboarding competitions, she has won four X Games gold medals. Elissa Steamer now resides in San Francisco and rides for Baker Skateboards, the company started by Andrew Reynolds. She runs her own softgoods company, Gnarhunters, and is part of the Nike SB shoe team.
Elissa Steamer was inducted into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame in 2015.
Rodney Mullen RM3 | Globe | 2001
Hailing from Gainsville, Florida, Rodney Mullen has made profound contributions to skateboarding as an innovator of skateboarding maneuvers and designer of skateboard hardware. Originally a World Champion freestyle skater on the team of Powell-Peralta skateboards, Mullen left the company in 1989 and started World Industries skateboards with Steve Rocco. In 1992, Mullen surprisingly abandoned freestyle riding and ushered in a new era of street skating as part of the Plan B skateboards team. He is the inventor of groundbreaking skateboard moves like the flatland ollie, kickflip and 360 kickflip, as well as the darkslide.
As the founder of skateboard brands such as A-Team and Enjoi, Mullen has advanced the state of the art in hardware design with breakthroughs including ultra-lightweight Tensor Trucks and new board laminates for Dwindle Distribution skateboard decks. He released his first of many pro model shoes on Australian brand Globe in 1996 and remains closely involved in his shoe designs including the treasured RM3 model. A frequent speaker at TED conferences on themes such as futurism and innovation, Rodney Mullen resides in Los Angeles, California.
Rodney Mullen was inducted into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame in 2013.
Lance Mountain LM3 | Adidas | 2001
Originally from Pasadena, California, Lance Mountain is an iconic professional skateboarder, photographer and artist. Mountain was first sponsored by Variflex and became a household name after joining Powell-Peralta Skateboards in 1982. Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, he was part of Powell’s original Bones Brigade team together with Mike McGill, Steve Caballero, Tommy Guerrero and Tony Hawk. As a pioneer of skateboarding’s DIY-spirit, Mountain has built countless skateboard ramps, customized his own clothes and cultivated one of the culture’s most recognizable art styles.
During his stint with the adidas skateboard shoe program, Lance Mountain released numerous pro model shoes. In 2007, he joined Nike SB shoes and has endorsed and co-designed several pro shoes with the program, including the highly coveted Jordan 1 SB Lance Mountain. His career as an internationally recognized artist began with board designs on Powell Peralta and The Firm and continues today in a wide number of mediums. With more than 40 years of skateboarding under his belt, Lance Mountain continues to inspire as part of the Nike SB shoes team and pro for Flip Skateboards.
Lance Mountain was inducted into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame in 2014.
Dave Mayhew D3 2001 | Osiris | 2001
Originally from Madison, Wisconsin, street skater Dave Mayhew was one of the original pro riders on the Osiris Shoes team together with Adam McNatt, Tyrone Olson and Gershon Mosley. Known for his technical street tricks, Mayhew became part of A-Team, the mid-1990s skateboard company masterminded by Rodney Mullen under the umbrella of Dwindle Distribution in Los Angeles.
In 1999, Dave Mayhew endorsed what would become one of the best-selling pro model skateboard shoes of all time, the Osiris D3. Designed by Osiris head designer Brian Reid with input from Dave Mayhew, the overly technical and bulky shoe created the blueprint for “puffy” late-1990s skate shoes. The shoe’s 2001 edition, aptly named the D3 2001 and even puffier than the original, turned out a million-seller with countless imitations around the world. The year 2018 saw a revival of 1990s “tech” skate shoes: The Osiris D3 2001’s design was copied by the AWGE x Under Armour SRLo shoe created by rapper/fashion icon A$AP Rocky.
Ed Templeton 2 | Emerica | 2002
Hailing from Orange County, California, Ed Templeton counts among the key innovators of a new breed of street skating in the early 1990s. He pioneered countless variations of moves such as One Foot and Impossible ollies on street, delivered with unprecedented consistency in demos and contest runs. An outspoken vegan, Templeton was a team rider for animal-free shoe brands Zero-Two and Sheep. He later endored a series of vegan-friendly shoes for his long-time shoe sponsor Emerica.
Ed Templeton released his first pro shoe on Emerica in 1998 after the demise of vegan brand Sheep shoes. As the founder and owner of Toy Machine Skateboards, he frequently designs skateboard artwork and advertisements for the brand. His art career began with a first solo exhibition at Alleged Gallery in New York in 1994. Since then, his critically acclaimed photography and paintings on contemporary life in America have been exhibited around the world. He currently endorses a vegan desert boot and slip on shoe as part of the Emerica Reserve collection.
Jay Adams Pro | Osiris | 2002
Born and raised in Venice, California, Jay Adams grew up on a steady diet of surfing and skateboarding. At the age of 13, his talent caught the eye of local surf and skate shop, Jeff Ho Surfboards and Zephyr Productions, who added the young prodigy to the legendary Z-Boys skateboarding team. Next to iconic teammates including Tony Alva, Stacy Peralta and Shogo Kubo, he cultivated an innovative riding style that would ultimately evolve skateboarding from its surfing roots into its own attitude-driven lifestyle.
In 1978, Jay Adams endorsed a signature helmet, the Flyaway model, which he co-designed. His contributions to skateboarding are detailed in the Stacy Peralta-directed documentary “Dogtown and Z-Boys”. In 2004, Jay Adams received a tribute signature shoe on Osiris Shoes. After struggles with addiction and the law, he provided outreach to troubled youths and remained an active part of the skateboarding scene. He passed away from a heart attack while surfing in Mexico in 2014, never to be forgotten.
Jay Adams was inducted into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame in 2012.
Tony Alva Pro | Vans | 2003
Professional skateboarding can be divided into two periods: Before Tony Alva, and after. The native of Santa Monica, California, has left his mark on skateboarding as part of the iconic Z-Boys skateboarding team. He was the first skateboarder to market himself as a brand name. Known for his style and attitude, he injected skateboarding culture with a new kind of lifestyle edge. As the ringleader of the Alva Posse, he recruited a pro team of heavy rippers in the early 1980s and today continues to skate and surf as a brand ambassador for Vans shoes.
Alva made a profound contribution to skateboard shoe design when he created the Vans Era model together with teammate Stacy Peralta as the company’s first skate-specific shoe in 1976. But the legend would have to wait three decades to endorse his own signature skate shoe: Plans for an Alva pro shoe fell through in 1987. Then a shoe company in Brazil produced an Alva brand shoe, without Alva’s knowledge or consent. In 2006, Tony Alva finally received his long-due signature shoe on Vans.
Tony Alva was inducted into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame in 2009.
Mike Carroll Pro | Lakai | 2004
In the early 1990s, Mike Carroll from San Francisco became known as one of the main innovators of a new wave of street skating. Having turned pro on H-Street skateboards, Carroll joined Plan B skateboards in 1991. In 1993, Carroll co-founded Girl Skateboards, and later Chocolate Skateboards with Rick Howard, Spike Jonze and Megan Baltimore. In 1994, Thrasher magazine awarded Carroll the coveted Skater of the Year award.
Mike Carroll’s first signature shoe was released by Vans in 1996. It was co-designed by Carroll together with iconic skate shoe designer Walter Telford. After a split with Vans, Carroll joined the DC Shoes team in 1997 and endorsed two pro model shoes; 1998’s “Cosmo” and 1999’s “Embarko” models. In 1999, Carroll founded the Lakai Footwear brand together with Rick Howard. Carroll allegedly coined the name “Lakai” after Malakai, his favorite character from the movie “Children of the Corn.” He has endorsed numerous signature shoes for Lakai.
Christian Hosoi | VANS | 2006
As the highest-flying skateboarder of the big 1980s skateboarding boom, Christian Hosoi took everything he touched to the next level: On the halfpipe competition circuit, the son of artist Ivan Hosoi was engaged in a fierce battle with Tony Hawk for the number 1 spot and set the World Record for highest air in 1988. As a professional athlete, the inventor of the Christ Air and Rocket Air channeled his fame into the best-selling Hosoi Skates brand, purveyors of the legendary ‘Hammer Head’ model. And as an international celebrity, he partied with rock stars and travelled the world accompanied by a fast-living entourage.
After a long-time stint as a brand ambassador for Converse shoes in the 1980s, Christian Hosoi made a comeback with a set of two pro model shoes on Vans in the 2000s. Released in 2006, the Christian Hosoi Era Pro featured Hosoi’s legendary ‘Rising Sun’ graphic in a classic suede and canvas model on an upgraded PU foam foot bed. The Hosoi Sk8-Hi also featured the Rising Sun graphic on the lateral and as a patch on the tongue. Today, Christian Hosoi is an active part of the Vans Legends skateboarding team and the Outreach Pastor at The Sanctuary church in Orange County, California.
Christian Hosoi was inducted into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame in 2013.
Paul Rodriguez P-ROD2 | Nike SB | 2007
From child prodigy to headline pro and company owner, Paul Rodriguez from Northridge, California, has left a definite mark on skateboarding. Nicknamed P-Rod, he is the son of famous Mexican-American actor Paul Rodriguez Sr. (Ali, Bloodwork, Rat Race). P-Rod stepped into the spotlight as a young rookie on the City Stars Skateboards team, before a long stint as a pro on Girl Skateboards. After joining the revitalized Plan B Skateboards team, Rodriguez started his own hardgoods brand Primitive and now sponsors a heavy-hitting pro team.
In the skate shoe game, Paul Rodriguez made headlines in 2004 with his switch from long-time sponsor éS Footwear to Nike SB for the rumored sum of several million dollars. In 2005, he released the first-ever signature skateboarding shoe on Nike SB, the Paul Rodriguez Zoom Air Low. The star of videos including Nike SB’s “Nothing But the Truth,” Rodriguez also starred in numerous video games and the feature film “Street Dreams” (2009) written by Rob Dyrdek. He has endorsed ten signature pro model shoes on Nike SB to date, the latest being the Nike SB Zoom Paul Rodriguez 10.
Dennis Busenitz Pro | Adidas | 2007
Born in Kansas, Dennis Busenitz is best known for his high-speed stunts in the hills of San Francisco. But here’s a little-known fact: Dennis Busenitz spent his formative years skateboarding not in the City by the Bay but in Munich, Germany, where his family lived for 13 years until 2001. Busenitz was voted Transworld Skateboarding Magazine’s “Street Skater of the Year” in 2006. Soon after, he left DVS Shoes for his current shoe sponsor, adidas.
In 2007, adidas Skateboarding released the Dennis Busenitz pro shoe. At a time when vulc constructions dominated shoe walls, the Busenitz pro featured a cup sole construction and a longer tongue inspired by pro soccer shoes. Having grown up with the adidas brand, Busenitz co-designed the shoe and adapted the silhouette of the classic adidas Copa Mundial football boots for skateboarding. Adidas released a vulcanized version of the shoe in 2012 and a special 10-year anniversary edition in 2017.
Dylan Rieder Pro | GRAVIS IVSK8 | 2009
Born and raised in Westminster, California, Dylan Rieder made a name for himself as a talented young street skater for Tony Hawk’s company Birdhouse skateboards. After riding for now-defunct board company Rasa Libre he turned pro on the Alien Workshop skateboard brand. With his impeccable style and fashion sense, Dylan influenced a generation of street skaters and modeled for fashion brands such as DKNY. GQ Magazine called him “The Skateboarder who changed fashion forever.” After a breakout performance in TransWorld Skateboarding’s “Time to Shine” video, Rieder started the online video part phenomenon with 2009’s “Dylan” project.
Following shoe sponsorship by Vans and Nike, Rieder joined the IVSK8 program at Gravis Footwear in 2008. Released in mid-2009, Rieder’s debut pro model shoe on IVSK8, the Dylan, made headlines with its revolutionary construction. It is a skateable slip-on low-top shoe, designed without shoelaces, featuring internal cushioning via poron, EVA, and latex. His more traditional second IVSK8 pro shoe, the Dylan-Mid, featured shoelaces and a high traction rubber outsole. He also endorsed a pro model shoe on LA-based HUF. Dylan Rieder passed away in 2016 due to complications from leukemia and the global skateboarding community still mourns his loss.
Stefan Janoski Lunar | Nike SB | 2012
Hailing from the small town of Vacaville, California, Stefan Janoski made a name for himself as an integral part of the late 1990s Sacramento street skating scene. Known for his outstanding switchstance skills, Janoski became an international household name with seminal performances in skate videos including Habitat Skateboards’ “Inhabitants” and Nike SB’s “SB Chronicles Vol. 01”. When he is not skateboarding, he is a prolific artist and musician.
In 2009, Stefan Janoski released his signature shoe on Nike SB. It was the second signature shoe to be released by the Nike SB program and co-designed by Janoski and Nike SB designer James Arizumi. From a design perspective, the Janoski blends the grip and flexibility of a skateboarding shoe with an upper in the style of a boat shoe. As it turned out, this formula created one of the best-selling shoes of the last decade and spawned numerous follow-ups, including 2013’s Nike SB Zoom Stefan Janoski. For the shoe’s tenth anniversary in 2019, Nike SB is releasing numerous special editions accompanied by art and storytelling from Stefan Janoski.
Danny Way XX | DC Shoe Co. | 2012
Born in Portland, Oregon, Danny Way is known for pushing the boundaries of street and vertical skateboarding. He stepped into the spotlight as a young prodigy sponsored by Powell-Peralta Skateboards, turned pro for H-Street and cemented his legacy as part of Plan B Skateboards. Way’s list of accomplishments includes setting the highest air world record and building the first-ever Mega Ramp in 1997. Also becoming the first skater to win Thrasher Magazine’s “Skater of the Year Award” twice in 2004. In 2005, Way jumped the Great Wall of China. In 2009, he set the Guinness Book World Speed Record on a skateboard at 74.5mph.
As part of the original DC Shoes team – together with Colin McKay, Rob Dyrdek and Rudy Johnson – Danny Way released his first signature shoe in 1994. Since then, he has endorsed and co-designed more than a dozen pro model shoes on DC Shoes and re-launched the Plan B Skateboards brands, for which he rides as a pro. In 2012, Way released a DC model aimed at vertical and park skateboarding with a full-on lace saver for extra protection.
Danny Way was inducted into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame in 2009.
Nyjah Huston Pro | Nike SB | 2018
Born in Davis, California, Nyjah Huston first stepped on a skateboard at the age of two and has not slowed down since: He made his X Games debut in 2006 at the age of 11. He became the youngest gold medalist in X Games Skateboard Street history at age 16 in 2011. He has won more prize money on the street competition circuit than any rider in history. Huston took the Street League Skateboarding Super Crown World Championship five times. Outside of the contest arena, he has raised the bar with influential video parts such as “Rise & Shine” (2011), “Fade to Black” (2014) and “’Til Death” (2018).
Nyjah Huston picked up éS Footwear as his first shoe sponsor in 2006 before joining the DC Shoes brand, for which he endorsed a signature shoe in 2013. In 2016, he officially joined the Nike SB team in a highly publicized move. The year 2018 saw the release of Nyjah Huston’s first pro model shoe on Nike SB. Co-designed by Huston, the Nike SB Nyjah Free features a rubber upper and a flexible Free technology outsole. Having won the 2018 Street League Skateboarding World Championship title, Huston was inducted into the United States Olympic Skateboarding team. He is currently looking to qualify into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
ONE MORE THING…
In December 2019, the Skateboard Museum Berlin will showcase a full-fledged exhibit at select international locations with a more comprehensive selection of shoes on display.
The reason? Another anniversary! The exhibit will accompany the launch of the 10-year-anniversary edition of our book “Made for Skate: The Illustrated History of Skateboard Footwear”, expanded with more pages, more stories and more (signature) shoes.
All photos courtesy of Dirk Vogel, all rights reserved.