Sneaker Report joined Nike SB last night for the launch of the Koston 2, the second performance-driven signature sneaker from the pro skater. We got a minute to catch up with the legendary Eric Koston himself along with Nike SB lead designer and Koston 2 creator, Shawn Carboy, to discuss the 2's technical updates, Eric's favorite materials, and what changes to expect from the Lunarlon kick.
SR: What was the biggest change you wanted in the Koston 2?
Eric Koston: I think the biggest change was the sock liner. If you pull it out, it doesn't look much different by the color, but there were certainly some changes I wanted to make. [The former] was a little bit softer, a little bit flatter, and I wanted it to be much more anatomically fitted to the foot than the past model. That was much more simple because I didn't want it to be too shocking, as skate shoes are almost always typically flat. I definitely wanted to make it pretty plush compared to alot of the skate shoes out there, but mainly focus on supporting my foot so it doesn't move inside the shoe.
Shawn Carboy: It's funny because when he came to me, the two things he mentioned were breathability and the sock liner. The sock liner was the main thing, because it's like the engine of the shoe. If the sockliner is wrong, then everything else falls apart.
I was able to meet with the [Nike] running guys and we talked about the foam, because we use the same Lunarlon material. They noticed in some of the older Lunarglides that the runners found the softness of the foam took away from the responsiveness of the run. So they preferred a harder foam that runners can burn into to get more of a response from the ground, something to kick off of and get a good spring from. So when Koston asked if he could try the harder foam, it makes sense because when you are trying to do a trick you are compressing so much to get that spring, which is the same concept in running. The sockliner is your midsole, there's nothing else in there but the rubber outsole, so this whole dimension is based on the running sock concept.
Any other key performance updates?
EK: Another thing was the breathability, the whole sneaker features TPU underneath the suede that supplies support and reinforcement, as well as provides another protective layer as you wear through, because rubbing against grip tape with time is going to put a hole in the shoe.
Why do you prefer suede?
SC: Think of the velcro analogy, with male and female sides, it's the same thing with suede and grip tape, so you actually want that tension. There's a fine line, you want the grab and you want the release. The way we flip our boards requires that moment where we roll our feet to flick the board up.
EK: Suede has always been that one material that doesn't fail. We know what it feels like, we've been familiar with it for the last 20 something years, so it's hard to go away from that. There are materials that work for different people, but I've always stuck with this. We know it's really subtle, but other materials don't allow you to work as well so to skate in them and you have to adjust accordingly— like if it's too sticky, you have to lighten up on how hard you kick.
How many hours of wear-testing goes into creating a sneaker like this?
SC: It goes through rounds, It's a process, we get the shoe, we design it, and get Koston's sample size first so he can just start wearing.
EK: It doesn't necessarily come down to hours, I can get in it and know right away yes or no. The hours come into play when we are testing the durability, like how long it takes to break down.
Is that a fun process?
EK: Yeah I love it, I like shoes, I like making them. I love all of it.
SC: It's great when you're testing the shoe and it comes back and you want to keep wearing it, Like you know in the first 5 minutes, you feel it stretching and instantly, you know. Koston's been skating for so long that you can find those points without even having to get on a skateboard.
Sounds like a good time. And finally, what sneaker would you turn into a performance skate shoe if you could?
EK: Well, it was already a skate shoe, the Jordan I. It was a skate shoe without Jordan even knowing it.
Stay tuned for Koston 2 release details and more on the Lunarlon Collection for 2013.