I had the supreme pleasure of being invited up to Portland, Oregon this week to be a part of Nike SB’s media summit where Nyjah’s signature shoe was revealed, we previewed the entire 2018 Nike SB line, skated the Nike SB warehouse, and had a host of other pleasant surprises. Lace your kicks up tight and get on board.
Words and photos by Blair Alley
Day one saw us in the Nike SB building, formerly known as the Burnside building on Nike’s World Headquarters campus--more on the campus later. We were treated to some secret clips of Nyjah’s upcoming video part filmed by Ty Evans along with some other montages featuring various riders from Nike SB’s team. Nyjah’s new part will be nuts.
Embargo alert! To sum up the spring line, how does one describe such a broad collection of shoes, from several of your favorite skaters and brands when no photos were allowed, and no mentions of product names nor descriptions are allowed either (minus Nyj’s shoe)? Well, the best products and innovations in the world are always closely guarded. You won’t have to wait long, as the first goodies start dropping in January and Nike SB is jam-packed with rad launches all year.
Shoe designer August Benzien walked us through the construction and timeline of the Nyjah shoe. Presto inspired, Free construction, 95-dollar retail pricetag, available March 1.
After lunch, we got to slip into our very own Nyjah kicks, do a little Q&A with Nyjah, Kaspar van Leirop, and special guest, Mr. Guy Mariano. They talked about the story behind the shoe, and Guy even gushed about his admiration of Nyjah and how juiced he is for Nyjah’s new video part. “I told Ty to hit me up when he goes out with Nyjah. I wanna see this stuff go down!”
Then we got to shred! Nyjah pretty much put on a demo without even trying. Kaspar was ripping on his home turf. Free Skate Mag‘s Will Harmon (an old friend of mine) landed his first 360 flip in eight months, since he’s still rehabbing a broken foot! It was a helluva fun session. Okay, time to clean up at the hotel then find out what surprise they had planned for that evening.
Nyjah’s casual first-try line in the SB warehouse.
After dinner, we took a stroll down one of Portland’s quaint streets, hung a left, and next thing you know we walked right into Sandy Bodecker’s “Extravagant Man Cave” residence. The place has that amazing bowl you might have seen on IG, a basketball hoop, full-blown music studio, art studios, incredible art on the walls (an original Banksy!), rare Nike artifacts you’d expect, a rooftop garden, and plenty more (I’m sure of it) cool shit I didn’t even see. The second part of the surprise was Nike flew in Grant Taylor, Zion Wright, Ishod Wair, and Stefan Janoski to skate the bowl, basically giving us media heads a private demo. Zion pulled a 540, Grant and Zion went up and over each other--it was a sight to see. Any time you get the privilege to see GT skate, it’s something special you’ll never forget.
GT and Zion cranking.
Original SB shaper and former TWS staffer Kevin Imamura gave us an insightful history lesson in the Nike SB DNA room. Once again, no photos were allowed, but that room probably had more value in the form of rare Dunks than any other building in the world. They basically had one of every famous/sought-after dunk (and Angus, and E-Cues, FCs, and more) from SB’s 15-year history. The kicks, shoeboxes, and apparel on display brought back great memories--very dope.
From there we went on a tour of the DNA rooms for running, basketball, and ACG--and yes, they were as insane as you can imagine. The full history of Nike’s involvement in those sports with a display of the shoes, ads, and more info from over the years. Wilson Smith (designed a Nike skate shoe in 1980, he also designed the Air Uptempo) and Rick Lower (DNA Heritage Director, has worked at Nike for 39 years) were our guides.
After lunch, we got a walking tour of the campus: The Mia Hamm building, the Ronaldo soccer field, the gym and basketball court inside the Bo Jackson building, too many historical displays to recount really. It was overwhelming. It really was like being on some sporting dream college campus--a really nice college campus. We stopped at the Michael Jordan building and saw our old friend Hunter Muraira who was with SB for over a decade before moving over to the Jordan Brand.
Then it was back to the (former) Burnside building for a Summer and Fall ’18 line preview with “Pelle,” another of Nike SB’s shoe designers. No photos or descriptions, but Pelle brought a duffelbag full of fire kicks to show us.
We closed out our two-day run with a trip to the Nike employee store where some of us went on quite the shopping spree with the generous discount we were blessed with.
What a history lesson! From Nike’s humble beginnings as Blue Ribbon Sports with the legendary Steve Prefontaine, from Phil Knight selling waffle trainers out of his trunk, to constantly pushing the boundaries in all of its sports, the two days in Portland were an eye-opening experience and a really fun time with the hospitable and hard-working peeps at Nike SB, on board and off.