Portrait by Maksim Kalanep
Eric Koston was recently in town for the release of his new shoe the Koston 3. He has been raising the bar for his whole career and is an integral part of skateboardings evolution. It stands to reason that his approach to making shoes is the same, testing the realms of possibility is what keeps things interesting. Our friend Brennan once pulled Koston aside at a premiere at the Prince Charles and said to him “If aliens landed on earth and we had to send one person to play skate for our salvation, it would be you!” That says it all really, he is a true original and his new shoe is like no other on our shelves. We caught up with him in a quick interview to find out much more about this Nike SB release...
Are you stoked on the end result with this new shoe?
Yeah I am stoked, it was tough. It was a long journey to get this thing done, two years.
Who do you feel this will appeal to?
You know, it’s really going to appeal to people who have a little bit more of an open mind to things. It’s definitely more shocking compared to what a skateboarder is used to seeing. It’s pushing them well outside of their comfort zone. But hopefully those people that are afraid of it will change their perception as they see people wearing it. Compared to just the product shot of it sitting by itself, the feedback I have got from people who have seen it on my foot have found it more appealing than when it is just sitting there on the shelf. Everyone gets so fixated on the now but the (Koston) One is still around and there is a vulcanised version of the one coming out so there are take down versions for people who aren’t prepared to spend £100 on it, there’s a basic out there too. I have that luxury of something that’s trusted and proven to be a very reliable skate shoe with the One, which gave me the luxury to sort of push the envelope with this so that’s why I kind of went nuts.
Do you think you will chop and change with skating your older shoe or stick with skating the Three?
II don’t know, t’s going to be weird going back into shoes that don’t fit like this because you are really locked in. There is a sense of security about that. You’re not moving around, it’s very secure and snug like somebody cuddling my feet. It’s going to be different, that’s for sure.
You have always tried to use current sports innovation in your shoes. The eS Koston 2 was way ahead of it’s time and a predecessor to the shoe trends which followed it. Your shoes have always been about embracing new technology and challenging perceptions of what is a skate shoe which is often met with resistance. People will wear a dress shoe inspired design but not a sports influenced one. What do you think about people approaching new products with that frame of mind?
I get it, I totally understand it. I’ve seen otter shoes where I have done the same thing and been resistant. But I think over time, I have learned to appreciate little things. Not everyone has that sort of obsession too so i can’t expect somebody to think the way I think or have the same viewpoint. I just hope to open somebodies eyes a little bit more. That’s the way I have always been. As for the feedback of people freaking out about it coming from sports, I have always been into it and I’m not sure anybody even knows that. I guess it’s all about storytelling, people understanding the history of me being a fan of basketball, I’ve played golf for a long time and I’m open to seeing all of those things. Soccer, football, I don’t play it much but I appreciate the designs of those shoes a lot. I take inspiration from all of those things and try to apply it to what I’m doing. There’s either an aesthetic purpose to influence how something looks or an actual function and I want to use it.
Eric and Nike founder Phil Knight. Photo by Maksim Kalanep
This is a highly evolved milestone on your journey designing shoes. At what point did you feel like you had nailed it with the Koston 3?
It was down to the wire, it was the last sample. Basically the last sample to be able to get the shoe out.
Was the sock involved from the very beginning?
The concept was the sock but at first it was neoprene. It was too hot, neoprene gets stinky. All shoes get smelly but neoprene can get particularly gnarly.
Did anything come to light with the first samples where you knew it wasn’t working?
It was like that, at first it really didn’t fit right and the whole concept was to make something which fits like a second skin.
Was there a team of people testing it out at every stage?
There are wear test kids who do it. I’m not supposed to interact with them which is probably a good thing. It would be weird if I were there watching the kids with a clipboard. It would change what they were going to say or be intimidating. There are twenty or thirty kids from Portland and twenty or thirty kids from LA who frequently do it. I do see those kids and end up talking to them later on to see what they think. Some of them are really good at skating and have good feedback and a lot of times it is similar to mine. I don’t really feed anything to them. I just ask them what they think about ares where I have noticed flaws and it is often similar feedback to mine.
Who was the first person you showed a sample, maybe a team mate or someone you skate with who had a big reaction to it?
I didn’t unveil it to anyone but Angelo from Supreme was working on something and was at the office. Angelo texted me a photo of an early sample when we were just starting and he was really into it and thought it was pretty cool. I was surprised because I thought a lot of people were going to be like “what are you thinking?”
Has anyone been really into skating in the shoe who you didn’t expect to be?
Alex Olson saw them really early on too and he has been skating in them. He skated in the early samples and was really into them. This was the early stages, fit was the biggest issue and it took a long time to get it right all the way through to the last sample.
Are you going to go wild with colour ways going forward with this shoe?
I don’t want to get too wild with the colourways on this shoe because it’s already wild as it is. I really want it to be almost monochromatic and let people get used to them being one colour and try it on. People need to try it.
What would you say to anyone thinking about trying it?
Try it! Then you can throw any opinion at me. If you haven’t skated in it yet you aren’t going to know…
Interview by Jacob Sawyer
Thanks to Eric for taking the time to do this interview and to Nike SB for hooking it up.