You don’t have to be Anna Wintour—or Thrasher editor in chief Jake Phelps—to know that skating is hot in high fashion right now. And even though it’s kind of strange to see Phelps disparage his celebrity-driven meal ticket while PacSun mallrat T-shirt sales and ultra-hyped streetwear collaborations keep his print empire humming (maybe if Details made cooler T-shirts, it would still be around), just as venerable fashion house Louis Vuitton seemingly now needs Supreme more than Supreme ever needed it, at least it’s an interesting time.
Certainly, celebrity sweatshirt aficionado and musical visionary, Kanye West, and his skateboarding sideman, Virgil Abloh, bear much of the responsibility for introducing skate culture to high fashion. After finally infiltrating the fashion industry by getting Kim Kardashian on the cover of Vogue and successfully establishing his YEEZY collection shows as fashion week musts for editors and celebs alike, Kanye introduced his extended family to the joys of skate-influenced style, famously dressing his daughter Saint West in Thrasher and Palace, while his sister-in-law Kylie Jenner flaunts her bogos all over Instagram.
Abloh is also on record as a Supreme fanatic. So it makes sense that the new adiPRENE YEEZY Season 6 runner that popped up on Instagram almost two weeks ago also draws on skateboarding’s rich history of trend-starting innovation. While many rightfully cited the Raf Simons x adidas Originals Ozweego as one influence on the forthcoming shoe, those who care about such things—like the editors of notable skate website Village Psychic—spotted another forerunner: the chunky, puffy-tongued éS Scheme skate shoe, which first dropped in 2001.
From the nubby sole protrusions to the mesh-and-leather sidewall to the pull-tab tongue and even the upturned toe, the adiPRENE YEEZYs bear a striking resemblance to éS Schemes, which were released just as the ’90s-born, puffy skate shoe trend was peaking, before declining in popularity to be replaced by more low-profile kicks like Vans and Chucks during the 2000s.
But now that sleek SK8-Hi’s are ubiquitous, challenging the market share of sneaker behemoths like Jordan Brand, it makes sense that tastemakers like Kanye would turn their attention to something a bit more substantial, especially as other brands continue to recapitalize past ’90s successes.
Skaters, however, are used to starting trends, so it’s no surprise that the Montreal skate pranksters at Dime, beat Yeezus to the streets with their slept-on take on puffy ’90s fave, the Vans Fairlane, which were revealed in the fall of 2016. While the Old Skools from this collection flew off shelves, the ice-soled Fairlanes just sat there. But, as the new adiPRENE YEEZYs prove, the Dime boys were onto something.
A revitalized Gucci also recently explored the chunky sneaker trend as part of its highly-praised Cruise ’18 show and even éS itself was forced to bring back its thick-tongued original Accel model, reputedly due demand from the Japanese market, where tastemakers dismissed the company’s slimmed-down take on this classic ’90s skate shoe.
Of course, none of this is happening in a vacuum. With baggy, ’90s-style jeans—another trend recently pioneered by retro-minded skate kids and then adopted by high fashion houses—on the rise, bigger shoes only make sense, from both aesthetic and cultural perspectives.
Think Vetements invented the wide-and-cropped pants we’ve been seeing lately? Nope, that was skaters too, most notably the young crew associated with Supreme, who were wearing wide, cropped pants as early as 2014, something you can confirm by rewatching Cherry (We see you Ben Kadow) or by peeping Kevin Rodriguez’ big, ragged cuffs at 8:22 and 8:23 in PUSSY GANGSTER, the more recent skate masterpiece from auteur William Strobeck.
Even bLind, arguably the company that invented supersized pants way back in 1991, is back in the game, releasing their original baggy jeans, with ragged, pre-cut cuffs in era-authentic colors like brown.
Nobody can say for sure, whether chunky sneakers will truly blow up, but with Kanye and Gucci backing them, it seems probable. What’s more certain, though, is that skate kids, with their fuck-all creativity born of a willingness to take slams and get right back, will continue to stay one step ahead of celebrities and fashion designers alike, influencing both to try and capture the freedom and fun of this subculture for the masses.
In that case, get ready to ditch your Thrasher hoodie around 2020, when the tight punk pants and puffy shoes seen in skate classic Baker Bootleg, just might be the new, cool thing all over again.
In other Yeezy sneaker news, check out how adidas is battling bots for the latest 350 Zebra restock. Subscribe to Highsnobiety’s sneaker chatbot on Facebook to receive lightning quick updates on release dates, sneaker street style, shopping tips and more.
- Words: Andrew Luecke