The pro skater dishes on how his new signature Nike sneaker came to be and the state of “skate style” today.
At only 23 years old, Nyjah Huston is one of skateboarding’s most accomplished figures, with a collection of giant trophies and big-deal corporate sponsorships that rival any more traditional athlete’s haul. He’s also apparently earned more prize money than any skater…ever. But there was one milestone that had eluded the young skater—until this month, at least: his own signature sneaker. And now he’s got one, from no less an authority than Nike.
Getting a signature Nike shoe is a huge deal for any professional athlete, skaters included. (Only three other pros have ever had that honor: Eric Koston, Paul Rodriguez, and Stefan Janoski.) The new Nike SB “Nyjah” is more like a performance sport sneaker than anything else, anyway. As Huston says: “No one wants a stiff, bulky, thick, puffy [skate] shoe anymore.” The all-white upper features a Swoosh, with cutouts on the sides for breathability. And the shoe’s segmented rubber sole is built to break in after a day or two (whereas other shoes might take weeks).
We caught up with Huston to talk about designing his shoe, how fans have reacted to it, and the skate-indebted style that’s taken over the fashion world today.
As a skater, what does it mean to get your own Nike sneaker?
It was an honor to get a shoe alongside the greats like P-Rod [Paul Rodriguez] and [Eric] Koston. These are the guys that I’ve been looking up to since I started skating. As soon as I got on the [Nike] team, they mentioned me getting a shoe and we started working on it right away. It’s just cool to see it finally all come together.
What was the creative process like with Nike?
The cool thing about it is I was actually really involved since the beginning with all the materials and all the technology on the shoe: the way I wanted it to feel, skate, and fit—everything. I had some shoes in the past with DC [Shoes] before I rode for Nike, but I wasn’t as involved in it, so it’s cool to actually be able to make this shoe everything I wanted it to be.
What was the inspiration for the sneaker?
The main inspiration with making the shoe was creating a shoe I not only wanted to skate in and liked skating in, but one that I wanted to wear all the time. With all the other shoes I’ve skated in in the past, I would skate in a pair and then take them off and chill in a different pair. I really wanted to make something super comfortable and something that’s really good-looking that you actually can wear it all the time.
Have you heard any feedback from the fans about the shoe?
Yeah, I’ve been getting tagged in a bunch of photos and stuff, and from what I’ve heard and seen, everyone is super stoked on it. One of the best things about the shoe is it actually lasts a long time, because we use this new rubber material that no one has ever used on a skate shoe before. That’s one of the things I tell kids about it. I made this shoe for [them] to be able to enjoy and actually keep and skate in instead of it blowing out in a week.
Growing up, was there any skaters that you were inspired by as far as their own sense of style?
[Laughs] Yeah, it’s funny. Me and all my brothers were always into the whole baggy style when we were kids, so we were always super stoked on watching P-Rod skate.
You tend to mostly skate in skinny jeans and a long, loose-fitting T-shirt. How did you land on that style as your go-to look for skating?
I used to wear baggy pants back when I was a kid, and that slowly transferred into skinny pants, and now I feel like my style has finally gotten to the point where I feel like it’s what it is gonna be for a while. It’s mainly just comfort. What I wear—my pants, my shirt, my shoes, everything—has a lot to do with me being stoked on the way it looks when I’m looking down at my board, because obviously when you’re skating you’re looking at your feet the whole time. If you feel like you’re wearing something that you’re stoked on, I feel like it actually makes you want to skate better.
You also skate in super-short shorts, too, which is a look you don’t see too often in 2018. What inspires that vibe?
[Laughs] Dude, honestly, just comfort. I think it originally came from skating when it was really hot out. I love skating in shorts, it’s really comfortable. Also, I feel like it helps sometimes being able to see everything: Being able to see your legs and your feet really clearly, instead of wearing baggy pants where you can’t really see much.
As a skater, what do you make of skating crossover into the world of style and into the mainstream?
It is interesting to see skateboarding getting involved with stuff like that, or even just where it has come in the past few years in general. It’s going to be in the Olympics for the first time in 2020. It’s come a long way, as it should. So many people around the world skateboard. I feel like everyone has stepped on a skateboard at some point in their lifetime. It’s also just one of those things that’s easy to get into because you don’t need a bunch of crazy equipment. You just need some decent shoes and a board, and you’re good to go.
Why do you think the world of fashion has started to adopt style cues from skaters?
I feel like, in a way, with style in general, a lot of it kind of starts with skating. The whole vulcanized-shoe look had a lot to do with skateboarding when that stuff was super hot with the [Nike SB] Janoskis. I feel like the whole skinny-jeans thing was a skater style at first, too. Skating and style just goes hand in hand, I think.
Are there any style trends you’d like to see more of in skateboarding? Maybe more short shorts?
I’m not gonna say I want people to go out there and copy my style. [Laughs] But I think style and skateboarding is only going to keep going forward. As long as everyone keeps doing their own thing and having their own style, not even with just what you wear but with the way you skate, the tricks you do, and the style you have. That’s what makes skateboarding so awesome, because everyone is so different and so individual.
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