The evolution of the sneaker in the skate scene
Even though some surfers in California moved their hobby from the sea to the asphalt at the beginning of the 1950s and built their first boards themselves with boards and simple wheels, it took a good 20 years before skateboarding became firmly established in youth culture. After the Cadillac Wheels company introduced urethane wheels that allowed comfortable skating on various surfaces and Alan Gelfand helped the scene gain additional popularity with the invention of the famous Ollie, the breakthrough was finally made.
And clearly, as in any proper youth movement, style is an indispensable factor in skateboarding. Since there were hardly any models specialized in skateboarding on the market at the beginning, skaters resorted to sneakers from other areas and unceremoniously misappropriated them. Especially basketball shoes were often seen in the skate parks. The main reason is certainly the cushioning, which is just as essential in skating as in basketball.
Bones Brigade sets the tone
One particularly popular "converted" model was the Nike Air Jordan 1 - despite its high retail price of $65 for the time. The high-top cut limited mobility somewhat, but provided increased stability and offered welcome protection for ankles, every skater's Achilles heel. Especially the legendary crew Bones Brigade around the world-famous skater Tony Hawk was known to rock AJ1s and set a dominant trend.
The fact that the AJ1 also played a leading role in skateboarding is acknowledged by the probably best-known skater brand Vans with its own Vault collection. On very high-quality variants of the classics Sk8-Hi and Old Skool the brand from California has conjured up three colorways on the fine leather uppers, which are based on the OG colorways White/Black/Red, Black/Royal Blue and White/Dark Powder Blue of the AJ1. A tribute of a special kind, after all, Vans and Nike are basically competitors.
Nike moves the Dunk into skate sector
However, the AJ1 was not the only basketball model from Nike whose sole was at home on the boards of this world in the 80s. Also the Blazer or the Dunk, which was later even officially adopted into Nike's skateboarding line with the addition of "SB," were also among the skaters' go-to sneakers.
Other brands also celebrated unexpected success in the skate scene. Icons such as Neil Blender and Rodney Mullen frequently appeared in models like the Converse Chuck Taylor All Starthe Pony City Wings or various shoes from adidas, who promptly responded by releasing their own skate shoe, the "Skate". Also from the Reebok Club C is also known to have been discovered by some skaters.
When brands like Airwalk, DC Shoes, Etnies, Globe, éS and of course Vans came around the corner with improved cushioning systems at the end of the 80s and beginning of the 90s and specialized more and more in the skate market, the basketball silhouettes gradually disappeared from the skating environment. For those who like to reminisce, we've put together some nice vintage photos in the gallery.
Photos © J. Grant Brittain & complex.com