It is amazing to me the debate about what one puts on their feet becomes such a fevered discussion for many skateboarders. When a lot of us here at the Movement started (early 90's) it was easy: Vans, Airwalk, Vision,Entines (just started) where the only "skate" brands available. However Converse(All Stars), Nike (Jordans and other Basketball shoes), Adidias (Shell toes Fo' Sho)
,Pumas(over dyed w/fat laces son!) or something that resembled what we where looking for in a skate shoe from a discount shoe store where also the norm, it basically depended on availability of product and what you could afford.
Nothing much has changed since then in many respects except for how huge skateboarding as an activity(argue about if its a sport or art form on your own time!) and how its wears became globaly fashionable.
So whats the big debate?
There are definately more players (companies) involved but there are more people who want to have that "Skateboarder / Surfer" look so demand is relatively high. Style as with anything and what skateboarding is based, having an original style is important not only on how you do your tricks but how you look doing them.
So why is it that I see posts and even advertising campaigns against "corporate companies" coming in and trying to cash in on skateboarding as an issue? Do you own a shoe company? If you are supporting your preferred brand what does it matter what someone else chooses to skate in or in some cases skate for (Koston/Lutzka/Stevie etc. get paid my friends you deserve it!)? To illustrate my point further take another look at the opening paragraph, any of those brands look familiar? They should, and another thing that makes them similar is that they all run by corporations who ventured into new markets!
The difference and what I feel where all the debating is coming from is that the ones mentioned as "skate brands" are what todays skaters feel belong and are unique to them so supporting anything but those brands makes others sell outs or not as"core". It is not surprising as the "skate brands" spend a lot of there marketing budgets on getting kids to believe this subliminally or directly. In the end that tacked on attitude towards these brands that did not start as a just skateboard market is short sighted and bullshit! A perfect example was the anti brand slogan that one company (Osiris) said about a bigger more successful company (Nike). Personally I owned many pairs of both brands (since the Smolick days for Osiris and since the Jordans from Nike) and although apart of me always wants to support skate germinated brands but the reality is their marketing campaign against Nike was bogus on so many levels, besides that who wants a shiny Banana on a shoe?! I know what they are trying to say / do but there actions are a bit contradictory as they to have expanded into areas that have nothing to do with skateboarding except in respect to the fashion.Nike SB can say they are only found in core brick and mortar skate shops (with the exception of select mail order) and have been responsible for keeping many a shop open, bringing in not only quantity but differing groups of people to the shop. As far as I know no other brand in skateboarding can say that. In addition they bring new innovation in materials and how skate shoes are made (wow concept! A shoe company doing more then just a color way or a classic rip off!)
Now before you all come at me with this or that think about it, all shoe companies are in business to make money / gain market share on what they produce period. Cashing in on a trend or whatever is considered good business and if you do it properly (quality product / good advertising) you get a cross over market that now is more willing to purchase other things you produce.
With that said and understood as it is a fact, if your is blood boiling because you believe skateboard shoes should be made by and for skateboarders talk to all the companies that sold "skateboarding" fashion to everyone else. Most (not all, well not yet) of the "core" skate germinated brands are being sold everywhere these days right along side most of the biggest brands in the shoe industry. The days of identifying another skater based on seeing what shoe brand they wore is gone, finding skate shoes only at a skate shop is over, supporting companies because they are skate germinated companies is an understandable sentiment(I experience this to) but in the end is the product quality, cost and availability.
There is a lot of product available out there, it is up to you as a consumer to decide. Personally I look for quality / value and what does the company do to support what I do (my skating) as well as how they support local specialty retailers (mini skate culture centers). So no matter what your favorite brand is, be sure you are getting the quality and the "look" you want and be sure to support your local specialty shop when you can as they most likely owned operated by and or support local skateboarding. Support the people who support skateboarding but more importantly get out there and skateboard!
In my many years of skateboarding I have skated many different brands of shoes and these stand out in regards to quality and value in no particular order.
Nike SB Zoom Tre-I would have to say one of the best shoes ever produced for skateboarding.
Adidias Shell Toes (great board feel, durability, value, various versions)
Entines Senix (great board feel /look and rubber under the leather)
Entines Sal 23 (original ones not the ones with the little rubber strip)
Airwalk (NTS, 540's etc. great look, durability)
Vans Caballeros (most of the versions, and everyone copies the Half Cab to a degree)
There are a few brands I have not tried yet so this list maybe added to in the future.