This history of Nike SB starts way back in 1963 when two long distance runners, Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight spotted a gap in the training shoe market for hi-spec running trainers at a more affordable price then those currently on sale.
The pair started importing Onituska Tiger running shoes, which later become Asics. It was a very successful business, travelling to running meets to sell shoes from the back of their vans and eventually opening their own stores.
In 1970 Bowerman and Knight decided that they wanted a bit more out business than just importing brands, selling other peoples trainers and believed they could come up with much better designs than those they currently sold. One morning over breakfast Bowerman had a moment of sheer brilliance that changed the sneaker world forever as he decided to poor rubber into his waffle-toasting machine. This was the first prototype of Nike’s famous waffle sole and with this they were armed with the ideas and designs to make something great and innovative for the training shoe market.
They set up a new company that would concern itself with the design and manufacture of their own trainers. Nike was formed taking its name from the Greek God of Victory an ethos and way of thinking Nike has always stayed true to. For example even as recently as 1996 Nike ran a campaign for the Olympics “You Don’t Win Silver – You Loss Gold” further showing what they are all about.
Jump forward to 1997 and Nike releases its first ever shoe designed for skateboarding. It was released as part of their main lane amongst all their other sports shoes and as a consequence was not a very big success. Most skate shops and skaters had their allegiances to core skate companies and Nike Skateboard shoes fell back by the way side. With victory in mind plus an always win mentality Nike came back in 2002 and introduced a new range specifically for skateboarding, Nike SB. This range was made specifically for skateboarding, for sale to skateboard shops only. Still not an immediate success the range only contained five shoes and Nike SB had no team riders or support from the skateboarding community.
Not deterred Nike pushed on with their new Nike brand and two years later they signed Paul Rodriguez, P-Rod to Nike SB. They also released a much lager range plus it was the first time the shoes differed from other shoes Nike had made before. Now the Nike SB trainers had features that where specific to this range and this range only, more padding, more durable materials, tipple stitching and unique limited edition colour ways saw that Nike SB’s rise in popularity has started.
P-Rod received his first of many Nike SB signature skate shoes in 2005 and Nike SB continued to make big signings, with arguable their largest being the street skating legend Eric Koston. Eric Koston’s Koston One Nike SB shoe has set a new bench mark for skate shoes in terms of form, function and lightweight construction.
Perhaps the biggest selling shoe out of the Nike SB camp is Stefan Janoski’s signature shoe. The Nike SB Zoom Stefan Janoski, to give its full title is a low profile deck style shoe with a vulc sole giving a smarter classic look that will give Vans a run for their money.
Omar Salazar has also had the Nike SB signature skate shoe treatment with a mid shoe. The mid trainer was fairly popular, but has become much more so since early 2012 when the shoe incorporated a vulc sole for the first time. We think this was a big improvement with sales and customer reaction suggesting this type of sole to be winner with the skateboarding community.
After a slow start it looks like Nike SB have got to grips with the skateboarding world, not only with the shoes they design and make but also the team they endorse and the following they have created.