Just like all sports, product placement pervades all areas of skateboarding. I remember when I first saw DC shoes I thought they looked crappy and that no sane person would ever dream of buying them. Then, after watching a few pros in skate videos tearing down handrails in those very shoes, I saved up and got myself some. I didn’t think the shoes enhanced my skating performance but just seeing the shoes on the feet of the pros actually changed how the shoes looked! They started to look like the coolest shoes on the planet and that’s why I had to have them. So when the kids are buying skate shoes, that’s what they look for first: who’s skating in them?
A skater kid wouldn’t dream of wearing a brand not affiliated with skateboarding. So you’re going to see the same few brands on all skateboard kids. When a big sports brand tries to enter the market, they have to get some pros on board or they get ignored. Skaters weren’t wearing Nike ten years ago, no matter what Michael Jordan had done for the brand. It wasn’t until they got some pro skaters on their payroll that the skateboard kids started wearing them.
To be fair, it’s not all branding and peer pressure. Skaters do think about the make up of the shoe. When choosing kids skate shoes there are some important qualities to look out for, Firstly, the shoes need flat, grippy soles. The feet are used for everything in skateboarding so they need to grip the board well. They also need to be made of durable material with double or triple stitching. They’ll be getting scuffed up the board in every trick so they’ve got to be strong.
But honestly, I didn’t want them too strong! I used to like it when my laces snapped and I got holes in my new skate shoes. That’s how you could tell I was a skater, by the scuffs on my etnies. Style, put forth by the pros, beat performance when I chose my skate shoes.