The 7 Best Skate Shoes of All Time
June 21, 2019
While some holidays today seem to have been created specifically to use a hashtag, there’s one that should always be circled well in advance. It’s not only a great reason to get outside and enjoy the weather, but you also know that it’s officially the start of summer when Go Skateboarding Day finally arrives. GSD (as the kids call it) was created by the International Association of Skateboard Companies back in 2004 as a way to make skateboarding more accessible to people around the world through a handful of events that helped promote the sport and business of skateboarding.
Fast forward to 2019, and 15 years later Go Skateboarding Day has become a global phenomenon. Events take place around the globe, ranging from the casual get out and grind type of meetups, to charity events and competitions, all of which serve the same purpose of getting out and skating with fellow skateboarders. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the 7 best skate shoes of all time.
Vans Half Cab
The Vans Half Cab probably has the coolest story of any skate shoe. Steve Caballero is a skateboarder from San Jose, California. As a 14-year-old, Steve began his career as a member of the legendary Bones Brigade team that helped popularize the sport for the masses. Caballero was given a high-top signature sneaker by Vans in 1989. After a while, Cab decided the shoe was too tall and began cutting down the sides and duct-taping the seams closed to hold the shoe together. In 1992, Vans created the Half Cab, which is exactly as the name suggests: Caballero’s signature sneaker with about half the ankle height. The Half Cab has been in production ever since, and is largely regarded as the best performance skate shoe of all time.
Converse Chuck Taylor All Star
The Chuck Taylor All Star is arguably the most iconic sneaker ever created. Not only is it universal and timeless, it just so happens to have one of the best designs for skateboarding. You see, Chucks have a grippy and flexible outsole. Although it was originally created over 100 years ago for basketball players, it has taken on many different lives over the last century. Skateboarding just happens to be one of them.
éS Koston 1
Eric Koston is considered by many to be the best skateboarder of all time. In recent years, he’s become a signature athlete for Nike and even helped design some of the latest Air Jordan releases. Before Koston joined The Swoosh, he was an avid sneaker collector and his signature sneakers paid tribute to his admiration for NBA stars like Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan. His first signature shoe came from éS. The design was so popular that éS re-released it a handful of years later, and when Koston signed with Lakai in 2007, they too released a new version of the shoe.
During the late ‘90s, skate shoes took a turn away from the popular designs of the previous decade. While early models from Vans, Vision Street Wear, and Airwalk, were mostly slim and flexible, the ‘90s brought a new wave of skaters that were heavily influenced by the grunge music scene. The new era created new trends. Wheels got smaller. Videos got rawer. And the shoes got FAT. One of the most popular sneakers of all time came in 1999 when Osiris released Dave Mayhew’s signature model, the D3. The D3 was bulky, overly padded, and everything that skateboarders wanted at the time. The shoe was so popular that Osiris basically made another version in 2001 that was aesthetically about 90% the same design, and they called it the Osiris D3 2001. 20 years later, the same design cues are being used by A$AP Rocky and Under Armour, as well as a handful of luxury brands trying to ride the wave, which only adds to the legend of the Osiris D3.
In the late ‘90s, Nike began to explore ways of competing in the booming world of skateboarding. They began a relationship with a small company called Savier, who made skate sneakers from 2000-2004. Nike bought the company after Savier had developed a handful of new styles, and reworked a couple of styles that were clearly Nike shoes without the Swoosh. Nevertheless, in 2002 Nike launched Nike SB and the reinvented Nike Dunk with many of the riders from Savier becoming a part of the Nike SB team. The new sub-brand created a new way of doing business and supported small skate shops, allowing many of them, and their employees, to create unique colorways of the Nike Dunk. Hundreds of colorways have been made since then and some, like the Diamond Supply Co., Supreme, Staple Pigeons, and others, are worth thousands of dollars.
DC Shoes Kalis 1
DC Shoes was a huge part of the late ‘90s and early ‘00s skate scene. While they made great shoes like the Legacy, and signatures for Rob Dyrdek, the sneaker that stands the test of time for DC Shoes is the first Josh Kalis signature shoe. The DC Kalis released in 1998 and it was one of the first skate shoes to take the trendy, exaggerated padding and tongue style and mix it with a running shoe vibe. Kalis’ appearances in videos like Transworld’s The Sixth Sense, and Zoo York’s Peep This, helped take Kalis to establish himself as one of the greats. The fact that his first signature sneaker recently re-released in its original form over 20 years after it first came out, validates the DC Kalis 1 as one of the best ever.
Air Jordan 1
The Air Jordan 1 is not only one of the most iconic basketball sneakers of all time, but it was also the go-to for skaters back in the mid-80s once it hit the clearance racks. The Air Jordan 1 was worn by skate legends like Tony Hawk, Steve Caballero, Tommy Guerrero, and many more. Its legacy has continued to have a foothold in skateboarding thanks to recent retro releases designed by Lance Mountain and Eric Koston. Like the Nike Dunk, what makes the AJ1 such a great shoe for skateboarding is the way that it ages. Most versions are made of leather, which makes them durable, but the most appealing element of the shoe is how it somehow looks even better when it has been used and abused. If you’ve ever set foot on any type of skateboard then you know how beat up shoes can get while skating.
With so many great skate shoes, it would be impossible to list all of them and it’s quite likely it would cause a never-ending debate. However, as we turn the page into another summer, we can all agree that today’s the day to lace up your kicks and grab your Custom Knocks as you head out to celebrate skateboarding.