I suppose when you've put out 13 pro model shoes for the same company over the course of 17 years, you probably know the ins and- outs of skateboard footwear better than just about anyone. From puffy tongues and fake air bubbles to skinny slippers and vulc soles, Daewon Song has walked through (and skated in) pretty much every trend, style, and material in the business. For 2015, we caught up with one of the best skateboarders to ever do it for the scoop on DVS' Daewon 14.
Words By Mackenzie Eisenhour
Photos By Seu Trinh
What's new for your 14th shoe coming out from DVS?
Yeah. Number 14. Crazy, right?
How does that process go? Are you still pretty involved?
For sure. Every time I have a chance, I go in there and work with them. Whatever shoe that I'm most comfortable with at the time—like I'll get stuck on things real easily—if I like something, I just won't change it. So I've been really into the Ricos [DVS Rico CT] lately and just can't get out of them, so I wanted to make sure that this shoe (The 14) was lightweight and just with really minimal padding around it. It's almost like a house slipper with just a little reinforcement and padding.
It seems like that's the way it's gone for a few years now—slimmer and slimmer.
Exactly. I watch some of my old footage sometimes, and it looks like I've got like Megatron on each foot or something [laughs].
Are those the main details that you care about for this shoe—slimmer and lightweight?
Pretty much. It also has like a protective lining around the top eyelet, too, just to help protect it from griptape wear. Then it also has some rubber toe protection, just around the ollie zone. I used to be really weird about that kind of stuff. I never wanted my shoes to look specifically made for skating. I like just being able to wear them around, skating or not. But this is a good middle ground just to have a little protection. This shoe is actually semi-slim, not super-slim. So it's a nice medium on that, too.
Is the 13 a lot different?
It was just a little wider. I felt like I wanted it to just fit a little better right up at the top of the laces like the Rico. So this one has a little bit tighter of a fit.
Favorite skate shoe you ever had?
Probably back in the day, I used to go buy these cheap shoes at Ross when I was a kid. They had this gum sole on them, and I think they were actually Guess or something. But those were the best because they cost like 19 dollars. I remember the first time I found them they had two pairs in my size and I bought both. From that day forward I think I've still been looking for that simple fit in every shoe I've had. Even though at the beginning of DVS I did get into the spaceship shoes [laughs].
First shoe you got for free?
I was getting Vision Street Wear shoes for a while. The ones with the zebra stripes on the side [laughs].
Do you think skate shoes will shift back to tech or stay slim and basic?
It's hard to say. It seems like these days everything is acceptable. Back in the day, everything was pretty strict if you wanted to be one of the cool guys or whatever. But today, it seems like people can really do what they want. There's a whole new generation that sees it differently than we did. They didn't live through the D3, so maybe they might see that style again and go, "Whoa." Kids are so good these days anyways that they could put two catching gloves on their feet and hardflip 20 stairs.
Cupsole versus vulcanized?
I'm stuck in the vulcanized world right now. I just feel like they have better grip. They also wear down faster, which for me is a good thing. When I first put on a shoe I really break it in—I'll actually grind it down myself when it's new with an old board before I skate it. I need it broken in. Cupsole is probably better for people that jump down things, but I don't jump down too much, so I like them slim.
Where do you fall in the skater-owned versus non-skater owned debate?
I think it's always better when it's skater-owned. We all kind of want to stick together. The industry has had its ups and downs, and it's pretty amazing to see everybody come together and support each other. It's the same as the mom-and-pop shops versus the big mall shops—you always want the mom-and-pop shops to make it. I understand all the sides, though. We all really want to support skateboarding, but sometimes we have to support our families, too. So I don't judge anyone else for what they do, but for me I try to keep it all skater-owned.
Best skate shoe of all time?
It sounds stupid, I'm not trying to say it just because it's DVS, but the old Tim Gavin 1, the white ones. Oh man, I used to call those things the Don Johnson. I just could not stop skating those. I used to swim in those [laughs].
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