eric koston talks skating, style, and soulland
As he announces his new collaborative project FRI.day with Nike SB and Soulland, we caught up with Eric Koston to talk the fusion of style and skating.
Dubbed the "Michael Jordan of skateboarding," Eric Koston began skating in 1986, turned pro in 92, and now, at 41 years old, is one of the most successful skaters of all time. Using his skate career as a springboard, Koston founded Fourstar Clothing together with fellow skater Guy Marciano, as well as indoor skatepark and skate news site The Berrics with Steve Berra. Koston has also been a longtime part of the Nike SB family; so when the team decided to collaborate with Danish menswear label Soulland on a nine-piece collection, it only made sense for Eric to jump on board.
A skater from a young age as well, Soulland designer Silas Adler, cites Eric as a big influence on him growing up, commenting, "Eric has been one of my childhood heroes growing up in the skateboard community." The collection, called FRI.day (FRI meaning free in Danish), is an encapsulation of the freedom and vibe of Copenhagen in the summer time. It marries technical innovation with a laid back and striking aesthetic. "We wanted to go in two directions with the collection, with half being experiential and style driven; I guess you can say for a fashion kid or sneakerhead. The other half is practical and functional with close attention to detail," says Silas. We caught up with Eric to talk us through the collection, his relationship with style as a kid, and his thoughts about the merging of high and skate fashion.
Tell me about where you grew up and when you started skating?
I grew up in San Bernardino, which is east of LA, about an hour and a half drive. I was born in Thailand. I started skating when I was 11.
And what were the brands you were wearing?
I remember I wore the shorts with the velcro from JIMMY'Z. I had a few pairs of those; they were definitely always part of my outfit. Then any sort of t-shirt that was from any sort of skate brand, even more obscure brands; I just kind of wore whatever I had. My mom wasn't buying a ton of gear for me. Then shoe-wise, my first pair of real skate shoes were the very first Airlocks. They kind of looked like a rip-off of the Vans Skate High, with that 'A' sewn on the side. They were canvas and they had a spider web print on them. I really wanted Life's A Beach pants, Skate Rags too... but I didn't have any.
You've been working with Nike for quite a while. How do you approach designing a shoe? Does it tend to be more functional?
I work with a designer and I always have ideas of maybe bits and pieces that I want to incorporate into the shoe — then it evolves from there. With the Nike SB and Soulland collaboration, it was actually Nike who came to me. They showed me the concept of the Koston 3 Hyperfeel and they immediately looked different to me. It took a little bit of time to sink in, but the more I looked at the designs, the more I was kind of intrigued and that's how this evolved. No skate shoes have the flyknit ankle, so it'll be a shock to skaters' systems.
How did the collaboration between yourself, Nike, and Soulland come about, and why did you think it was the right thing to do?
My friend Daniel [from Nike] was actually the one who brought it up to me. I didn't really know Soulland very well at all, but then he told me about Silas and the brand being from here in Copenhagen — the whole idea sounded really awesome. I met with Silas and Jacob and the more we started to talk about it, the more excited I became. Then when the ideas they had were all laid out, I was super hyped. It's something that's different for SB and I think it's important we continue to do more things like that. Doing it in Copenhagen also made total sense because as I've been coming here a lot for skating and I've completely fallen in love with city.
What is your favorite piece of the collection?
It's a tough one, there's a lot of things that I like. I really like the suit because it's something I don't get to wear very often. It's very rare that I'm even connected to any sort of suit but it's a laid back and not super uptight. It doesn't feel like you're gonna rip through it. It's really comfortable.
Have you tried skating in it?
No, not yet but I probably am going to; maybe not with the jacket, but with the pants.
When looking for brands to collaborate with or brands to sponsor you, what is important to you?
I look for things that are a little different and out there, maybe pushing the boundaries of style a bit. Nothing too crazy, but sometimes I like things that are a little crazy, a little louder. Something brighter, different colors that a lot of people wouldn't really wear. I do like things that are basic and simple, but you get tired of that so I always wanna mix it up and just add some excitement and variation to whatever I am doing, really.
Do you find it interesting to watch people and observe how they move? Do you get ideas for shoes from it at all?
For sure, I find myself all the time looking at someone's shoes. I'll see something and it'll inspire me. I just need to write things down; sometimes I forget and then I'll go to try to remember what I was thinking and can't remember. Then it comes back to me later when that person's not around.
Brands that give you a little bit of freedom and trust in your vision might be hard to find.
It is. I think I just look for the things that remind me of a lot of skate fashion of all periods throughout my life. If I see something that reminds me of a certain time, or it takes me back to a certain time, I like it.
Nostalgia in a sense. People are very nostalgic for the early days of skating. The skate scene in general is always romanticized
Yes, it is. I appreciate that people are looking back at those times and it's inspiring. I've already lived and experienced, the good or the bad, which I love.
You can't help but notice how much skate has infiltrated the world of high fashion. What do you think of it all?
You know, whether skaters like to think this or not, they're walking lookbooks. They are. You see somebody wearing something like a sick outfit, shoes, everything looks super tight, the tricks make them look better, everything about them looks really sick. More recently, it's just become more and more common. I feel like you get a lot more of the high fashion stuff, that they weren't doing before, but the skate scenes take in fashion too! So it's all fair and square to me; scratch my back and I'll scratch yours!
The collection will be available in the Soulland store, Soulland.com and Nike.com on August 12 and selected stores from August 19.
Text Lynette Nylander
Photography Leonn Ward