Stefan Janoski’s Nike SB is arguably the most popular signature pro shoe ever made. The franchise is 10 years old, and still just as popular as the day it was released. What’s ironic about all of this is that Janoski had to fight with Nike to get the shoe made to his specifications. He breaks it all down in a new interview with High Snobiety.
What was it like going into the initial design stage?
Well, the initial meeting was Nike calling and being like, “You’re going to get a shoe.” And at the initial interview, they just handed one to me, like, “Here’s your shoe.” But it wasn’t this. [Points to the Janoski RM] It was something else. It looked like Nike tried to copy something that already existed, which is a crazy thing right there. Nike doesn’t need to copy something that already exists, you know what I’m saying?
They tried to make it very skate, but the thing was, skate shoes at the time weren’t very good or cool. They were very puffy, had tonnes of padding in the tongue and a bulky toe.
So when did you transition to lighter, thinner shoes?
Initially, I think I was just wearing stuff I saw other people wearing. I was like 13 or 14, going to San Francisco, and seeing what all the pro guys were wearing, and I would basically copy them. But as I grew up and started skating for myself, I started having preferences. At first, when you start getting free stuff, it’s like I would’ve worn anything. When you gave me free shoes, it was like… it could’ve had spikes on and I would’ve worn it.
So that was the first thing, like, “Yay, free stuff!” But then you get older and start having preferences and your own personal style. So by the time I got on Nike, I’d been pro already for a long time. I had my own personal style and flavor. I knew exactly what kind of shoe I wanted to make.
Did you have to push for it? Was Nike up for it?
No, they weren’t up for it. They didn’t like it. I think they finally just gave in. They were like, “Just give it to him.” [Laughs]
How dramatic did it get?
[Laughs] Just temper tantrums. But it doesn’t matter. It was kind of fun. It has its funny stories. But I was like, “You guys are Nike. You can do anything in the world. Just do it!”
Nike [SB] didn’t have any slim shoes in their entire line at the time. I would go to NikeTown and get non-SB shoes because they had less stuffing in the tongue and were actually better for skating. Usually when a company makes a shoe for skating, they just stuff a bunch of unnecessary bulk in it and are like, “Here you go.” Nike, adidas, Converse — they were making skate shoes before they ever knew they were making skate shoes.
For more, head over to High Snobiety to read the entire piece.