One of the most well-respected pro skaters in the biz, Stefan Janoski finally got his own long-overdue shoe with Nike SB. In keeping with his relaxed, nonchalant skate style, the Zoom Janoski is a clean, comfortable and functional shoe.
Nike's second signature model, it's a marked departure from their first—a Paul Rodriguez shoe which is more beefy and athletic-looking, again following P-Rod's skate style. Instead, Janoski's minimalist version is one you could wear skating or just walking around. The upper takes a line from the classic Nike SB Blazer but a leather lining lends more durability. Leather laces also mean you won't chew through them after a few kick flips, a vulcanized outsole keeps the look clean, makes for great grip and the Zoom Air bag cushions and protects the heel. In addition, at Stefan's request, the shoe's initial release will come with a limited-edition cork sockliner.
To get more insight into the design process, we caught up with SB's footwear designer James Arizumi, to take a look at some sketches and ask him a few questions about the design process.
So, why Stefan Janoski?
The deal with Stefan is that he's got such a lax skate style and it's on the opposite end of the spectrum from P-Rod. By bringing him into the fold with the pro series shoes, it allows us to broaden our horizons and takes SB to a different place with skate shoes. This shoe wouldn't exist without him because it's not something that we would normally do and kind of takes us out of our comfort zone.
Where do you start when designing a signature shoe?
Stefan's been on the Nike Skate team for a bit now and we know his skate style so we started with that. He also sent us stuff and images that he liked—cars, clothes, shoes, music, drinks… From that style guide of sorts, we knew the aesthetic we were going for.
I should add that for Stefan, from the very beginning it was all about fit and how it holds up for skating. He didn't really care about ankle protection because those sorts of injuries and abrasion are just unavoidable. He also wanted a lot of flexibility. Taking all this into account, I started to sketch out some ideas with him. After we get something that looked good, we'd move on to the sample process. I've found that athletes respond better when they have a physical sample in their hands. He didn't like the first one at all! Stefan is hard to please but that's a good thing.
Continue reading and see more images after the jump.
What were your personal goals in making this shoe?
In the end, I really just wanted to make a shoe that represents Stefan well. Of course, we need to it to perform well and skating is such a rigorous sport, but we also wanted people to be able to wear it around town after skating. I don't think there are a lot of shoes that can do both well.
What were the challenges in developing a shoe that can be both skate and casual?
We went through three different iterations and I'm talking fully flushed out designs that were ready for production. So that delayed the launch of the shoe and to be honest it almost didn't happen at all. Finally, really late in the game, I laid down a line drawing and Stefan called me and was like "this is it!," which is good because this was the last chance. Like I said, Stefan is hard to please, but it's only because he knows what he wants and doesn't settle for anything less. The rest of the process was just fine tuning the details.
It looks like a plain shoe but can you talk a bit more about the details?
They say "god is in the details," so once we got the line art and some samples we knew that working with him on the details would make it all the better. Some changes that Stefan requested were the swoosh being emboroidered, using a matte thread instead of shiny, using leather laces and a cork insole.
The quarter/side panel dives into the outsole to provide stability in the heel. The tongue is really thin and minimal so that you can feel the board on flip tricks. The outsole is vulcanized which allowed us to lower the foot in the outsole offering more ankle support and stability.
We finished the inside of the shoe with a leather lining but we also placed a suede inner heel cup so that it grips your heel into the shoe. Stefan was super pumped about this small feature.
Happy with the results?
As a designer, there are so many things that I've designed that I don't wear or use. But I wear this one! Even better, Stefan wears his all the time. I know a lot of pro riders that don't wear their own shoe.
Do you have any plans for a Stefan II?
Of course! Every pro model has a follow up but the sophomore edition can be a real challenge. I like to make shoes that are sort of like time capsules. I like to think of the shoe as a snapshot in time, kinda like the Jordan series. Stefan could change his style of skating and the shoe would change with him. We'll all have to wait and see what happens.