Versus – Adidas Shell Toe and Puma Clyde


1993 Styles: Adidas Shell Toe vs. the Puma Clyde

In the mid to late 80s, the not-made-for-skate skate shoes were Nike Jordans and Converse Chucks. In the early 90s, with hardly any low cut skate shoes on the market, we cut down our Airwalk Enigmas and Vans (full) Cabs. And when we got sick of that, adidas Superstars (Shell Toes) and Campuses, and Puma Clydes (Walt “Clyde” Frazier’s signature model, later known as “Suedes” and “States” in Europe) and Baskets became the new skate-shoe trend.

Boards and wheels were getting tiny, and everybody wore the low profile basketball shoes because they wanted a lighter, more free-feeling shoe. Retro sneakers were definitely not a popular thing at the time—if the term had even existed yet. So the fact that they weren’t the easiest thing to come by only accelerated their popularity, especially in SF, D.C., L.A., and New York City.

There was a point in time for each shoe, that I personally swore there wouldn’t and couldn’t be a better skate shoe. But as the mid 90s brought on the bigger wheels and bigger boards again, your feet were hard pressed to stay injury free with the Pumas. But the Adidas still had protection with the Shell Toe. Okay, so this is looking kind of predictable …

I Wore One, The Other, Or Both:

Rick Howard, Jed Walters, Mike Cao, Sean Sheffey, Pepe Martinez, Harold Hunter, Lavar McBride, Rick Jaramillo, Paulo Diaz, Matt Milligan, Matt Willigan, Nick Lockman, Joey Bast, Kris Markovich, Mike Maldonado, Josh Kalis, Eric Ricks, Jesse Paez, Felix Arguelles, Jonas Wray, Jason Rogers, Stevie Williams, Marcelle Johnson, Chad Muska, Matt Mumford, among others.

“It was about the colors. Rick Howard made the Pumas hot. Jed Walters was the first guy I’d ever seen skating in adidas. Then the World guys picked it up and I was skating with them, so I picked it up. Jovantae Turner was the first person I saw cut a high top down to a low top and patch it up with stickers. In those days, no one had shoe sponsors. They had forty bucks to go buy those shoes. Everyone was on the hunt to find the craziest shoe stores with the hottest colors that weren’t out. I remember white Pumas were really in, but I ran the high top Shell Toe Adidas.”—Mike York

“The best thing you could do to some Campuses is bleach them so that they’d turn into that crazy yellow/brown color. Campuses were so good ’cause they were flat, and they always looked good when you looked down at ’em. I’m from San Francisco, so you know where I’m gonna say it all started.”—Nick Lockman

“I just remember skating Embarcadero rocking some Shell Toes. They skated way better. I don’t really remember rocking Pumas that much. I know people had Pumas, but I never even rocked ’em.”—Keith Hufnagel

“Pumas were easier to get ’cause they came in crazier colors, but Shell Toes were harder to get in the crazier colors so you had to settle with what you could get. I wore ’em both.”—Mike Carroll

“Shell Toe Superstars were good, man. Even The Pro Model, the high top. Personally I’m into high tops—the all black with white stripes were hot, great skate shoe. You can’t really ruin the rubber on the front and companies just ripped that off, like Vision Street Wear. I like the (Puma) Clydes with his signature on the side, I like the original suede Pumas, I like the Puma Beast, but I’m not a Puma fan at all. It’s basically adidas versus Pumas forever and I’m just an adidas fan.”—Chris Hall