In addition to boasting one of the most prosperous and celebrated careers in pro skateboarding, Eric Koston has played a major role in skateboard footwear innovation over the years having had more pro model shoes under his belt than just about any other skater in history. With the recent release of his second pro shoe from Nike SB and with Girl celebrating its momentous 20 year anniversary this year, Koston definitely has a lot on tap for 2013. CCS caught up with the man himself this month to find out more.
Girl is celebrating its 20 year anniversary this year. What’s it like looking back on the brand and all your history with the team there?
It’s pretty wild. It’s crazy that it’s been that long and that a lot of us are still around. We’re still hangin’ in there. [laughs] 20 years is a long time. There’s not many brands that can say that—that have lasted this long—especially doing it the way we do it which is our way. We all kind of realized it on New Years this year. A lot of us were together—me, Rick, Carroll, Jeron and Smyth. We rented out this compound in Palm Springs and we were bugging out on how long it’s been.
Given your legacy there, what’s the most memorable era of Girl for you?
There’s been a lot. The beginning was cool and it definitely stands out a lot as one of the most memorable times. Just given how young we all were and all the growing pains we went through and going on trips together. We were all going places for the first time together—going to Europe and Japan. That really stands out a lot. It was us getting our feet wet and all experiencing it all together for the first time. That would be the moment—the beginning.
Megan Baltimore once described Girl as the “you can never leave club”. What is it about the crew over there that makes it such a great place to be as a pro skater?
We really do have a family. We’ve spent twenty years together. Being thirty seven now— that’s a big portion of my life. Given those relationships and the bond we all have, the thought of leaving never really crosses our minds.
As a senior member of the team, is it cool for you to be able to support and work with some of the newer guys?
Yea, totally. It is cool, especially when you see people that you could potentially see on Girl or Chocolate. There’s not a lot of those people. They are pretty unique and rare. So when they come along you appreciate it. You want to see these guys go down the right path and we want to keep our legacy going as well by getting the right guys.
Girl has always had the reputation for having one of the most prestigious teams in skateboarding. What does it take to get in mix as a team rider? Is there a certain profile or template you’re looking for?
It’s not a template. It’ll be a guy we’ll loosely start to hang out with or meet through a mutual friend or sometimes it’ll just be someone that’s gnarly like Cory Kennedy. The first time I saw Cory skate was at a demo on the first Beauty & The Beast tour. I saw him skating I was tripping out on how good he was. I was talking to a guy who owned a shop up in Seattle about him and he was showing me his footage. He was telling me how much a fan Cory was of Girl. He was already down with the brand so I told Smyth, “dude, start sending this dude boards”. So it’s definitely not a template. It’s their skating, their attitude and how they hang. We test drive them on trips. We get them in a group, break them in and see how they get along. That’s what we’ve done with everybody—dudes like Malto, Mike Mo, Raven and Elijah.
The Koston 2 from Nike SB just came out. What can skaters expect from it? Any major upgrades from the SB Koston 1?
There’s more breathability as opposed to the Koston 1 and it’s just as durable if not more durable. I think it lasts a little bit longer too. I thickened the tread slightly more than the first one which helps in a few ways. It lasts longer and doesn’t go bald as quick and it also helps with impact. There’s a little bit more rubber so it really does help when you take a pounding. The fit is better too. I worked on getting a lining that’s really like an inner booty. This came straight from a running shoe. It’s a full sock fit that’s all one piece. Also from the running thing I took a heel counter that stays locked with your foot when you land. The heel can crash so the shoe stays with your foot when you land so you don’t do the yard sale thing when your shoes fly off. It was borrowed from a running technology. It absorbs impact with every stride.
What’s it like working with the design team over there in the development of a product like the Koston 2? What’s it like having access to all those Nike resources and technologies?
One of the benefits of working with Nike is being able to fish around in some of the other departments for things that may apply to your skate shoe. It’s pretty sick. I love it. I’m a nerd for it. I’ve been collecting so many Nikes for so long too. To be able to actually use it all is amazing. They have crazy technology. They have whole departments dedicated to innovation—just focusing on stuff that will enhance performance. Helping to design skateboard shoes is something I’d like to do even after I’m done being a pro skater as a profession.
You’re pretty much the Michael Jordan of skateboard shoes when it comes to having so many generations of pro models. What’s it like reflecting back on all your past pro shoes as you’re designing footwear for the future? Does today’s technology really drastically improve your skating?
Footwear has been a passion of mine for a long time and it really comes from collecting sneakers. I always look at details and bits and pieces of shoes and think about applying that to skateboarding. I do think technology makes a difference. Is it going to make you skate better? Not really. That always comes down to the person. I think the way that it can help though is through protecting you. That’s what it comes down to. What we do is abusive to our bodies and you can only do so much. I’m just trying to do what I can to ease that blow so you can go longer and have a longer career.