The History Of Skate Culture and Its Iconic Skate Shoes

True skater culture has become somewhat nostalgic now but during the time of its rise, several shoes emerged and became iconic. Skate culture dates back to the early ’70s and has deep roots in California, where surfers made a move to land in the form of a skateboard. The past time slowly took off amongst and the underground crowd and by the ’80s skateboarding had become a sport and save haven for suburban kids.

At its core skateboarding is not about shoes or gear. Skaters who made waves, in the beginning, wore sneakers that were affordable and had ample grip to hold fast to the board’s surface. This was the driving force and so Converse’s Chuck Taylor was dubbed the skater shoe of choice. However, soon after its company launch Vans would take center stage and become one of the most iconic shoes in the skate game. Vans was born in California and therefore had the upper hand on the emerging skate scene. In 1976 they debuted the Vans Era, a low top canvas shoe with a thick rubber sole for durable grip that was made for skating.

Photography by Adrienne D. Williams

Photography by Adrienne D. Williams

In the years to follow Vans would release several other now-iconic sneakers including the Old Skool and Sk8-hi. The culture was growing and by the ’80s skaters looked to the Air Jordan 1 as the go-to shoe. Overproduction of the sneaker had caused prices to drop and the shoes’ toe box and sidewalls made it ideal for skating. The late 90s brought skate culture to an all-time high and classic shoes like the Adidas Super Star saw love within the community. By the early 2000s, Nike would throw their hat back into the ring and create the game-changing Nike SB. Though the SB was created with high-tech features for skaters what we remember most are the creative collaborative sneakers it spawned. For sneaker lovers everywhere the SB drops stopped the world until the next collab was released.

The sneaks alone created enough icon buzz but skate cultures’ merge with hip hop opened up a new lane for emerging artists who rapped to a different tune. Artists like the Beastie Boys, Pharrell (aka Skateboard P), Lupe Fiasco, Curren$y, Kid Cudi Odd Future, Joey Bada$$ and Wiz Khalifa just to name a few. Their unique musical style spilled over creating a new mold for how a rapper should look and act. Skate culture has always had ties to music and art, and brands like Vans and Puma keep those ties strong with artist collaborations, music festivals, and art shows. Though original skate culture will remain a nostalgic era we are looking forward to seeing it continue to grow within hip-hop.

Honorable mentions go out to Puma Suede’s, Reebok Workout, Etnies, DC Shoes!

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