Nike Skateboarding designer Shawn Carboy has worked with Eric Koston on a lot of Nike shoes. For over a year they toiled to produce the Koston 2, the great skate shoe that is in stores today. The most noticeable difference from the original Koston is the fit, the interior of this shoe envelops feet with a comfy, protective grasp. As with any great shoe, you'll forget you have them on.
So to learn more about Nike's latest skate shoe, Sneaker Report spoke with Carboy last week at a Nike Koston 2 launch in LA. Hear about Nike's strengths and how they worked for the shoe, how golf influenced the upper's design and how the shoe's complex internal components all came together.
Interview by Reggie Altema (
Eric said you convinced him to put Lunarlon's trademark ridges on the sidewalls of his cupsole. What really happened?
It was a Nike thing. When we did the 1 some people didn't even know that it had Lunarlon. The reason why we didn't want it on the 1 is because by nature skateboarders want a black suede shoe with a white sole. That's just how it's been for years. When we did the 1 people felt like it was an amazing shoe but they didn't know what Lunarlon was. With Paul's shoe we had more of the bells and whistles and the reason for that is that you can be broader because he has a broader audience. So for his shoe we went the traditional route. This time around with Eric's shoe, considering people were so psyched on the 1, we thought, "Let's be proud of what we're using. Let's let people know that this is going to be there."
"I think that's where Nike's strength is— getting people out of their comfort zone."
Explain the functionality of the layout of the cupsole's Lunarlon ridges?
Instead of having the ridges streaming down the sides of the sole I just wanted to incorporate a couple, keeping it really minimal, but when you see the ones on the [pinky toe] side that is so your foot won't be leaning towards that side less, so it helps you laterally. The [big toe] side is raised so it helps with your arch and it has that sleekness. It was really a brand statement. People started becoming comfortable with it because of the baby steps we took, from taking the traditional look and turning it into a cupsole, which actually was a big step. Now it's "can you make the sole a little bit different, but still remaining functional?" I think that's where Nike's strength is -- getting people out of their comfort zone. Showing them the way and taking them in a different place they've never been. Running does it. Basketball does it. Jordan does it. If you're not pushing [the envelope] then you're basically making shoes out of coconuts. I know if Eric had the choice he probably would have kept the cupsole clean. This was something I kind of had to convince him to go along with. It just gives it a little bit of personality. It gives you that technical look. Even with the tread having the bellows go in, there is something cool about it. Just like the ridges, making the tread is purely about function, as in adding more flex grooves.
How does adding flex grooves improve the sole and the shoe's overall flexibility?
There were these rubber lines that I removed that were making it super stiff. We needed to take them out because I wanted them to arch properly because that way they'll be more flexible. I wanted to add more tread because it makes it more flexible. The rubber is thicker than normal because the idea is to get the sole to last as long as the upper. We want them to blow out at the same time. Nobody likes a shoe where the toe is blown out and the sole is not or vice versa. So this shoe is built up so that it wears down consistently so that the traction doesn't change as it wears down. There are just these little things that make it better for skateboarding. You may go through a shoe in a month, and another kid might destroy a shoe in two weeks while Eric it'll take him three days. Usually Eric would go through a pair of shoes in a matter of days during a testing run and with this one it lasted him two weeks.
Reggie Altema is a Haitian writer from New Jersey who grew up obsessed with music and skateboarding but despised east coast winters, so the former Fat Beats New York employee escaped to Los Angeles where he could skate all year round. When he’s not out walking his pitbulls, he listens to Bebop and contributes to ESPN Skateboarding and Sneaker Report.