My shoe game evolved with my skate game. Each new trick—heelflips, frontside flips, the notorious tre—begot new shoes to replace the ones the feats destroyed. I got a pair of black És Ones, a classic shoe, the very first Nike Eric Koston shoes, baby blue Emerica Reynolds 3s, my favorite shoe of all time. These shoes stood out for their details. My Reynolds 3s had a faux-diamond earring in the eyelet, my gray-purple És-Chocolate collaboration mid-tops concealed a stash pocket and my Bryan Herman Emericas had “WUSSUP” and “HATERS” written on the heel.
My friends and I chattered about shoes constantly. I remember my friend Ethan coming into math class with a new pair of black Vans Half Cabs, an iconic skate shoe. They still had the fresh leather and chopped timber aroma. He took one off, and we passed it around, burying our noses in it, deeply inhaling like it was a skull filled with smelling salts. We nodded and smiled at each other.
Our fashion tastes climbed upwards to our legs, torsos, arms and heads. All of my favorite skaters like Jerry Hsu, Heath Kirchart and Eric Koston had a personal style, not just for tricks, but fashion. I was inspired by them and started ordering less typical apparel: high socks, corduroy pants, knit sweaters and flannels. I never felt like I was copying anyone. I took bits and pieces and combined them to create something new.
By the end of my sophomore year of high school, everyone respected my skating and my style. Kids’ eyes popped out when they saw my new shoes. Friends offered me money to buy the clothes off my back. I wasn’t the best technical skater, but I had mastered the four elements: my flip tricks got air, I pushed wood with grace, my style flowed like water and everyone knew I was fire.