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“There’s a lot you can tell about a skater by looking at his shoes. Where he skated, how many times he’s ollied...“ – Tim Brauch (impersonating Forrest Gump), 411 Video Magazine There used to be a time when you could spot fellow skaters by looking at their shoes. You knew it right away – the telltale ollie holes on the sides, some patched-up with Shoe Goo™. The worn down soles, the frazzled laces. You made eye contact and exchanged a knowing nod or a quick what’s up. A little Fight Club moment at the corner store. You knew right away that you were both into the same thing, sharing the same day- dreams of spots and tricks, the same victories and agonizing defeats. You knew all that, just by looking at someone else’s feet. Skateboarders have always paid a lot of attention to shoes. After all, they’re what connects us to our boards – and to the world at large. Skaters know what difference a pair of shoes can make. We not only wear shoes – we UTILIZE them. We test them to the limits, wear them down, skid them across griptape and hot pavement. And when they’re all beat up, we go to lengths to make them last a little bit longer, stand some more abuse, even when there’s hardly any more sole left to walk on. We’re an authority on which shoes have good grip and which shoes don’t. We know which features make sense and which ones are just bells and whistles thrown on top for extra flair. We KNOW shoes, because we live in them. Nowadays it’s harder to pinpoint those who actually skate in their kicks, with millions of skate shoes walking around out there, some of which have never touched a board. And even if you could identify another skater, chances are it wouldn’t be cool to talk to him, him being too hesh, too hip-hop, too punk, too whatever. Skateboarding has grown into such a broad church that we’re split into a number of sects – some kind of schism in the 90’s when the Rock’n Rollers and Hip-Hoppers parted ways – and ever since then, never the twain shall meet. What we ALL share as skateboarders, though, is a long history, and shoes are a big part of it. Footprints of History It was this rich history of skateboarding, which we at FauxAmi set out to document with our very first “Skateboardfieber” exhibit in 2003. This planted the seed for what is now a per- manent Skateboarding Museum at the Stuttgart Filmhaus with over 1,000 exhibits on display. Honestly, we never believed this would happen. At the time we just asked around for old skate equipment among friends, collectors and captains of the European skate- board industry for what was meant to be a two-week show. Things just kind of skyrocketed from there and branched out way past running the museum (check for details). We were invited to stage follow-up exhibits in Bar- celona, Berlin and Zurich, which opened up ever so many doors for us. These days, a large number of collectors and skate his- tory nuts from around the world are supporting us with pieces from their private collections. The whole skate history story ran its own course, but it took a while until skateboard shoes came into play. They kind of snuck up on us, actually. At first, the exhibit focused almost solely on the evolution of skateboard hardware: mostly decks, wheels and early predecessors of the modern skateboard, like the skate-scooter. Shoes were marginal at best, although they play such a big part in everyday skating. Introduction - WE KNOW SHOES Then one day, we realized that some people actually keep their 20-year-old, run-down-to-the-toes skate shoes. When the museum received the first pair of 1988 Airwalk Proto- types – it was all over. “We HAVE to do something with shoes!” we said. It is just too powerful.” Memory Lane There are so many memories that come back when you see a pair of old sneakers. “I used to have those,” you’ll say, and all of a sudden the floodgates break open and the images pour in like a tidal wave. That launch ramp at your grandpa’s house, the first video you watched. Your first kickflip. Or when you went skating that concrete ditch by the lakeside. Skateboard shoes not only connect us to our boards, but to our personal history. There’s a powerful sense of getting back into synch with your past that sets in when you remember wearing a certain type of shoe. You remember what your world was like back then in vivid colors. You come to realize that all these images are burned into your memory somewhere – you just never had a trigger to access those memories. The shoes do just that. No wonder you remember them so well. After all, those were the shoes you saw every single time you looked down at your board when you did a trick. For as long as they lasted, at least... The first MADE FOR SKATE exhibit was a runaway success. And we knew it whenever we saw people causally stroll around the rooms, and finally stopping dead in their tracks in front of the display with those old Airwalk Protoypes. That look on their faces! You could tell that their memories transported them somewhere else in their mind at that mo- ment – far away from the hectic tradeshow routine with sales reps preaching the gospel of vulcanized soles just two rooms down the hall. Far away in their minds to a place in time when they had a pair of these on their feet, and skateboarding was different, and skaters were just skaters. Alive and Kickin’ As MADE FOR SKATE: The Illustrated History of Skateboard Footwear will document, skateboard footwear has come a long way. Look at all the choices you have today when you buy a pair of kicks at the local skate shop: Retro or ultra-fresh? Heel- shock-system or not? Mid-top or low-cut? Synthetic or suede? Vulcanized sole or stitched rubber? Run-of-the-mill or limited edition? Skatin’ shoes or chillin’? Have your pick! Even though skateboard shoes have spilled out into the mainstream in a big way – skateboard footwear at the time of this writing is an $800 million industry – even the most modern shoes are part of an ongoing tradition, laid down in terms of elementary design patterns and choices of materials in the mid-1960s. Just how closely shoes today still adhere to this blueprint, is just one of the aspects we are trying to show in this volume. At the same time, we’re fully aware that any attempt at documenting the evolution of skateboard footwear can be fragmentary at best. It’s been a good run so far and still, more and more shoes for the exhibit keep pouring in all the time. Thank you to all our contributors for making this book and the exhibit possible (although their shoes kind of stink, but hey – what did we expect?!). 16