Eric Koston and Guy Mariano are veterans of the skateboarding community, riding for skate brand Girl since it was founded in 1993. They’ve experienced the evolution of skateboarding firsthand, and they’ve lived through decades of fashion trends, some of which they look back on with embarrassment. True to the rebellious reputation of skaters, Eric and Guy do things their own way, both on and off the board.
Now, they’re back with a new brand called Numbers—and a brand new Nike collaboration to go with it. Koston and Mariano teamed up the sneaker giant to produce the Nike SB x Numbers collection of coaches jackets, hoodies, long sleeve T-shirts, and the Koston 3 shoe. They hope the collection, dropping December 15, will “catalyze ideas, creativity and progression in skateboarding (and beyond).”
What do you think is the importance of fashion in skateboarding culture?
Guy: I feel like skateboarding has influenced mainstream fashion, 100 percent. I remember being a skateboarder and wearing really baggy clothes, then seeing that trend grow. Then skateboard pants were tight, and we saw that trend grow. Maybe other people are just now realizing the effect that skateboarders have on fashion. Everyone’s gravitating towards that right now. I’ve always felt that it’s been really influential.
Eric: It’s pretty important. Some skaters may disagree for sure, and those are the guys that like the simpler things. We’ve influenced fashion a ton, but fashion has also influenced us. We’ve taken from fashion. When Jason Dill had that DVS shoe, he ripped off from Prada. Straight up. There’s been tons of stuff that I’ve borrowed from Nike. There are little bits of fashion influence everywhere, down to material and trim with footwear. Those little things have come from fashion. It’s not like they’re just taking from us completely and we’re not taking back, because we definitely do. It’s important to. Even when it pisses us off that fashion steals from us, and we all have our panties in a bunch because we got our ideas ripped off, we know that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Guy: When you look good you feel good, and when you feel good you perform good. I think that’s where skateboarding and fashion meet. That’s why we’re obsessed with it.
Eric: Yeah, ‘cause I’ve looked down at my pants and been like “Dude, look at these pants. How am I even going to—it’s bothering me.” It actually has an effect on you mentally.
Guy: I’ve been through a lot of trends in skateboarding through the years. When I was at Dylan Rieder’s funeral, I was looking at all these photos where he just looked beautiful in every stage in his life. I can go back to when I was wearing the craziest outfits. Me and Eric have been through so many crazy trends in skateboarding, it’s actually pretty funny. There’s something about the history in fashion and skateboarding. Supreme right now is making Menace jeans. Me and Eric lived that. We wore those—the real pants.
How would you describe the overall style of the Nike SB x Numbers collection?
Guy: I think Nike has a good way of using a traditional style and throwing some innovation in there that helps performance, while still keeping an original look. The first Nike and Numbers collaboration really captures that. Some of the stuff is just really good to skate in, and some of it may look more traditional and basic, but it has innovations that help it perform.
Eric: This is the first time we’re doing this together, so we thought about first impressions. The K3 shoe is a piece that pushes the boundaries, which is something I like. I wanted to do things with the materials and colors that were very fitting for the season but also very wearable. That piece is growing on people, but it’s still pushing the envelope a bit. The rest of the collection, on the apparel side, is very timeless. We wanted to keep it super clean and minimal on the branding. We wanted it to be wearable for a long time, rather than something that’s cool right now and then you look at it next month and you’re like “Why am I wearing this? This is ugly.” We wanted something that is very classic.
Guy: I also liked the branding of it. They used the throwback Nike logo which is really cool, because me and Eric, we go back. We probably wore some of that stuff originally.
How did you two first begin working together?
Guy: The first time would be when we were under Steve Rocco’s roof. We got together over there. We met through a mutual friend, Tim Gavin. Some of our first work was just skateboarding together.
Eric: We were both teens so we were pretty young, but that’s where it started. It wasn’t really a working relationship; it was more of a skateboarding relationship.
Guy: Then skipping forward, when we were both involved with Girl Skateboards, the team atmosphere played a big role. We worked closely together to help build that. Then we went on to Fourstar, and on to other brands from there.
Eric: We were trying to convey our interests and inspirations into those brands, and that’s something that became a natural evolution in how we work together. It is work, but it’s also fun. Sometimes it’s weird to even call it “work.”
How do your styles differ? How do your tastes complement each other?
Guy: I think it’s changed throughout the years, but I would say I’m a little more basic than Eric. As far as style goes, Eric is more innovative. He takes risks and he wears things that someone might look at in a different way. Eric doesn’t always play it safe. I think that’s what sets him apart from a lot of people.
Eric: That’s probably just ‘cause I get bored of—
Guy: White T-shirts and jeans?
Eric: Yeah, or any one thing. I try to switch it around. I like variety. So sometimes it’s a white T-shirt and khakis, then next thing you know, I’m wearing a pink and teal striped sweater.
Guy: What impresses me about Eric is that he does what he likes, not what someone else is going to think is cool or good. That’s what I’ve always liked about him. I think he’s done that on the board and off the board. He’s fearless.
Do you look at fashion differently as a designer or curator, versus as a consumer?
Eric: I’ve never really stepped back and thought about it like that, but yeah, I do. There are certain things that we’d want to create from a consumer standpoint, but it may not be something that I’m interested in from fashion standpoint. There could be something crazy out there fashion-wise that I can look at and appreciate, like some weird runway show stuff, but I wouldn’t necessarily try to make that for our brand. So, there are a few different ways I look at those sorts of things.
How do you decide who to collaborate with for Numbers?
Eric: There’s a lot of creative people that we’re connected to just from years of being around. And there are a lot of people that we’re very interested in working with. Right now, we’re working on how and when to roll out our collaborations. These will be called our Editions.
Guy: We collaborate with people who actually have inspired us, and who still inspire us today. Some of the main collaborators we’ll be working with really closely are all of the shops that have supported us throughout the years. Me and Eric have been around for a long time, and a lot of people have supported everything we’ve gotten involved with. I think it’s time to pay it forward and reach out to them. There’s a lot of shops out there that are hurting, so we definitely want to support them and bring eyes to them. A lot of our brand identity is about supporting your local shops. That’s a brand necessity for us.