In the first of a three-part docuseries by Highsnobiety, we explore how DC broke the boundaries of skate by creating innovative footwear that changed the sport.
Few outside the skating world are privy to DC Shoes’ original moniker: Droors Clothing. Even fewer, perhaps, know of Droors’ initial iteration as Eightball—a clothing label founded by Ken Block and Damon Way in 1991 that would soon become DC, the powerhouse skate brand that went on to define a generation.
In the first of a three-part docuseries by Highsnobiety exploring how DC broke the boundaries of skate by creating innovative footwear that changed the sport—while simultaneously shifting the streetwear landscape—we sit with not only the founders, but a slew of designers, skaters, and artists intimately connected to the early DC family to paint a vivid portrait of the company’s success.
THE OG PLAYERS
In order to fully connect the dots of DC’s intricate history and map its ascent in popular culture, who better to get the complete story than all of the OG players involved, from Eightball’s conception to its transformation into the DC we know now?
Familiar faces from these convergent cultures, like Jon Buscemi of his eponymous fashion label and legendary skate photographer Mike Blabac, touch on DC’s foresight to architect a company that merged street, sport, and skate elements together in a way that would form an early blueprint for modern skate culture as we know it today.
Dave “Persue” Ross
However short-lived Block and Way’s initial Eightball venture was, the timing couldn’t have been better. Droors’ provocative ad campaigns were some of the best in the game and showed they were different from the rest. At a time when skaters were looked down upon by society, rocking typical skate gear almost guaranteed alienating sneers in public.
“For a kid, if you wore skate gear, you put yourself under the microscope,” explained Droors designer Alyasha Owerka-Moore, one of streetwear’s most prolific figures, whose early work underpinned street labels of yore like Mecca, Phat Farm, and Alphanumeric. “For a lot of kids it was like, ‘I just wanna wear what’s happening on the street, because it’s tough enough just being a skateboarder.’”
“We hired creative people to bring something to the table, and if you micromanage them you might as well fire them.”
THE ARRIVAL OF DROORS
With the arrival of Droors, the brand provided a platform for Block and Way to pioneer their unique vision of blending skate with fringe cultures that were actually popping at the time, namely graffiti and streetwear, and took them mainstream.
“We hired creative people to bring something to the table, and if you micromanage them you might as well fire them,” explained Way, who gave its collaborators creative autonomy to build whatever it was they deemed cool and authentic that other skate brands simply couldn’t imitate.
By 1993, the sneaker aspect of the business began to take shape and Way felt skate shoes at the time were stagnant and just weren’t cutting it. For visionary sneakerhead and newly minted DC footwear designer Sung Choi, this presented an opportunity to shine. Choi’s first ever design, the Lynx, ended up being the most iconic shoe the brand had ever produced. “It’s funny when you work on product, you don’t really know you have something that’s iconic or timeless until a decade or two go by,” said Way.
The Lynx was just the start of several industry firsts for DC, one of which may elude even the most diehard streetwear loyalists today—in 1999 they were the first to ever collaborate on a sneaker with a then little-known shop called Supreme. That project, again, was headed up by Choi whose keene eye for detail and on-the-pulse instincts helped DC become a force to be reckoned with.
- Director: Nick Castle
- Producer: Chad Ghiron // Highsnobiety
- Video Editor: Mike Handler
- Cameramen: Johnny Castle & Mike Handler