Skateboarding’s Fat Cow

The more trade shows I attend, the more I realize that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Another year and another Long Beach ASR trade show goes by. Thousands of people packed the Long Beach Convention Center from February 2-4 to attend the first of two annual Action Sports Retailer shows celebrating some of the best gimmicks in skateboarding.

And without question, the most noteworthy observation made at this trade show is the accessories trend. Everyone’s got mad accessories-from jewelry and bottle openers, to belts, bracelets, lighters, and pocket knives. Accessories are everywhere. The more bling the better.

Vans reminded everyone it’s the innovator of the skateboard classic waffle-grip-soled shoes by setting up a stand in front of the Vans booth, cooking up fresh waffles cut into the shape of a shoe sole, and serving them with syrup to any interested passersby.

In terms of their signature shoe line, this trade show launched three first-time signature shoes for Dustin Dollin, Jim Greco, and Bastien Salabanzi. And the well-deserving Salabanzi, at only sixteen years old, may be the youngest-ever pro skater to get a signature shoe. Both Greco and Dollin’s shoes display a Piss Drunx logo on the side.

Geoff Rowley’s third shoe on Vans was also launched at this show. Called the Sham, it displays a tiny British mod-target symbol on the side of the shoe’s heel area. Design-wise, it’s very distinct from Rowley’s first classic shoe and second XLT models. A simple shoe, made strictly with synthetic materials, the Sham is also one color throughout-outsole and midsole.

Finally at Vans, the Classics line is bigger, broader, and still exclusive to skate shops.

What else? Well, from the scientific laboratories at Savier comes the Ollieometer, designed by company footwear designer Steve McDonald. The rotating shoe device tests the ollie area of shoes by scraping them against a griptaped deck, mimicking the wear associated with ollieing. Worn-through shoes were displayed with the number of rotations it took to blow them out.

Savier also offered the golf-ball test to measure the shock absorption of a shoe. In this test, a ball is dropped through a little chute onto a sliced-off outsole of Brad Staba’s pro model, as well as an unnamed competitor’s shoe. Well, needless to say, the ball bounced higher on the competitor’s shoe, indicating in that specific test that Staba’s shoe absorbed more shock.

Savier is now making all of their shoes’ tongues with the very lightweight foam-like material used in a snowmobile’s air filter, versus the more generic foam used in most other shoes. This feature will be known as the Respirator Tongue and allows for more air to filter and circulate through the shoe. Savier is also using the new foam in all their backpacks.

In related news, teamrider Brian Anderson has a new clothing label through Savier called Thurston Andersen. Thurston is his middle name. And his surname, Andersen, is spelled with an “e” rather than an “o,” as he usually spells it. This is because when his family came to America they changed the spelling of their name to use an “o” rather than an “e.” According to Savier, Anderson is very excited about his new clothing line. Brian Anderson, however, will continue riding for his primary clothing sponsor Fourstar Clothing of Girl Distribution fame.

Under the umbrella of Sole Technology, Etnies is promoting Elissa Steamer’s second shoe, the Tross model, in both the men’s and women’s line, although the shoe is built on a men’s last. Etnies is rereleasing Sal Barbier’s shoe, the brand’s classic Sal 23. Barbier has re-signed with the company to promote the shoe. Also, a limited-edition of Natas Kaupas’ original signature shoe on Etnies-the first known pro-model skate shoe from 1987-may soon be released for team-riders only. Natas also recently re-signed with Etnies to promote the shoe. Funny how things come full circle, isn’t it?

At éS, e Koston 4s are coming out soon. They’re less bulky than the K3s. Arto Saari’s signature shoe on éS. A cross between the éS classics the Accel and the original Koston shoes, Arto Saari’s first signature shoe cleverly named “The Arto,” seems to be a hit.

Airwalk held a happy hour, serving passersby free beer from the kegs they had set up in their booth. The tap on the kegs had an Airwalk shoe fixed to it, so in order to pour a beer, one had to lever the shoe to work the tap. Rather innovative, isn’t it?

It seems that for almost every company on the convention-center floor, accessories are huge. Emerica is no exception to this. They know this. Perpetuating the whole “lifestyle brand” theme, Emerica is now offering a more-impressive-than-ever line of accessories. The enormous success of the limited-edition run of Andrew Reynold’s shoe in brown last year inspired a number of bling colorways, including red/gold and white/gold. To complement-or rather, accessorize-the red/gold Reynolds, there’s a matching red/gold grommet belt available. Emerica also has team and logo rings, curb wax in a logo wallet-styled wax carrier, and a rather impressive range of socks, wallets, belts, wristbands, bracelets, watchbands, buttons, necklaces, rings, keychains, an Emerica-logo belt buckle, and even cop-style custom sunglasses featuring triangle screenprint logos.

At Black Label, recently turned pro riders Adam Alfaro, Anthony Scalamari (Ragdoll), Patrick Melcher, and Ben Gilley debuted their first signature-model boards at the Giant booth. Giant Production Manager Roger Harrell explained that Black Label doesn’t want to do series graphics anymore, but rather will offer individual board graphics unique to each rider. Now you can also get a Black Label Swiss Army-style pocketknife-complete with a toothpick and tweezers. And shit, Black Label is finally making some nice socks.

Element now offers the Forbinator bearings packaged nicely in a little canvas pouch that can attach onto a belt loop. Skateboarders can take that extra set of bearings with them to sessions and only have to reach as far as their belt loops to find some fresh new bearings. Element has also released the old Natas Kaupas Panther graphic board.

Other new Giant offerings include CKY calendars, rails for your board, and Shoe Goo for your shoes.

Tum Yeto held another successful coup d’état across the street from the Long Beach Convention Center at Club 49. Hundreds of people flocked in and out of the popular installation throughout the three days of the trade show to relax, check out the new product, eat from the free buffet spread offered by Tum Yeto, or drink at the bar. They even held a Superbowl Sunday party with a big screen to watch the game.

Foundation now offers a patented Pop Top construction utilizing a biaxial composite top layer for greater board stiffness, delivering maximum strength and “an unequaled ‘pop’ to all skateboard maneuvers.” Foundation claims that this composite “makes the boards thinner, lighter, stiffer, and stronger.” Apparently the team has been trying to break these boards with no luck.

Tum Yeto’s Tod Swank has teamed up with some of skateboarding’s greatest riders to create a classic board company motivated by skating pools, street cruising, and style-what they call “the pure enjoyment of skateboarding.” The company is called Deathbox Skateboards and is headed up by Dave Hackett and Doug “Pineapple” Saladino, as well as other skateboard legends. For clarification’s sake, this new company is not in any way affiliated with the original but now-defunct Deathbox skateboards founded in England in the late 80s by Jeremy Fox of Flip. Logo decks from the new Deathbox are now available and will shortly be followed up with rereleases of some of the pros’ classic models-tentatively from Hackett, Pineapple, Mike Folmer, Brad Bowman, Jay Adams, Tom “Wally” Inouye, Wentzl Ruml IV, and Rick Blackhart. These decks are huge-literally-and Tum Yeto will be assisting with their manufacturing and distribution.

Finally, the Tum Yeto coup d’état featured a dropping display case for shops. The glass middle shelf of the three-shelf display case barely holds any weight. Consequently, placing any items on the shelf causes it to drop, creating a big pile of stuff on the lower, bottom shelf. Tum Yeto’s demo-model display featured a mound of wheels, wristbands, bearings, trucks, belts, bushings, and bolts.

At NHS, Bootleg Skateboards seems to be going off, and Santa Cruz has some interesting new stuff. The newest pro on Santa Cruz Skateboards, Alex Moul (who rode for the original English Deathbox), has a pro board depicting one of his favorite pastimes (beer). It’s part of the company’s Addicts series. Also, the new Powerlyte boards are popular among the Santa Cruz team. The top surface veneer of the board is a Kevlar-like material.

Aside from a handful of interesting shoe and deck innovations, without doubt the behemoth mountain of accessories-some even useful-was the most noteworthy highlight of this year’s spring trade show.

Oh yeah, and for some reason Thrasher is on the rise again. Apparently in direct correlation with record sales of studded belts.erally-and Tum Yeto will be assisting with their manufacturing and distribution.

Finally, the Tum Yeto coup d’état featured a dropping display case for shops. The glass middle shelf of the three-shelf display case barely holds any weight. Consequently, placing any items on the shelf causes it to drop, creating a big pile of stuff on the lower, bottom shelf. Tum Yeto’s demo-model display featured a mound of wheels, wristbands, bearings, trucks, belts, bushings, and bolts.

At NHS, Bootleg Skateboards seems to be going off, and Santa Cruz has some interesting new stuff. The newest pro on Santa Cruz Skateboards, Alex Moul (who rode for the original English Deathbox), has a pro board depicting one of his favorite pastimes (beer). It’s part of the company’s Addicts series. Also, the new Powerlyte boards are popular among the Santa Cruz team. The top surface veneer of the board is a Kevlar-like material.

Aside from a handful of interesting shoe and deck innovations, without doubt the behemoth mountain of accessories-some even useful-was the most noteworthy highlight of this year’s spring trade show.

Oh yeah, and for some reason Thrasher is on the rise again. Apparently in direct correlation with record sales of studded belts.

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