The History of Nike SB
December 26, 2012 Written by: Tamara Kelley
As one of the leading companies in sports equipment and apparel, Nike has strived to stay on top with their revolutionary technology and innovation. With a diverse range of focuses, Nike turned to the world of skateboarding in the late 90’s brining their idea for the future, respect for the past and creative outlook to the table, creating the new brand Nike SB and forming a team with some of the most famed names in skateboarding.
Prior to the launch of their skateboarding specific brand, Nike began producing and selling skate shoes in 1997. The idea for Nike to produce skate shoes came from the large group of skateboarders who were already skating in popular Nike basketball shoes. Modeled after other skateboarding shoe brands, Nike took their Dunk model and added padding to the tongue and collar to protect against the impact of skateboarding. In their first attempt at launching a skateboarding shoe Nike did not fair so well against the market of already established skate shoe brands, and was not recognized as a core skateboarding brand. A few years after their attempt in the skateboarding industry Nike introduced its new brand in 2002, Nike SB which stands for Nike Skateboarding. Shifting the focus specifically to the design and production of skateboarding shoes would be no easy feat since the design of a skateboarding shoe seems like a complete contradiction. Nike had to formulate designs that would feature enough cushioning to protect the skateboarders feet from the pavement and boards, while at the same time providing enough feel and control for the board. They would also need to find a way to construct a shoe that was durable enough to withstand the wear and tear of skateboarding while keeping the design light and breathable, and they also had to mix the ideas of tradition with progression. One of their first models the Nike SB Low Pro Dunk was a revision of a popular basketball shoe where they added a Zoom Air Unit cushioning and additional padding in the tongue and collar to provide skateboarders they extra protection they needed. Following the Dunks, Nike released four more models, the Angus, FC, Delta Force and URL. Despite the launch of Nike Skateboarding and its release of different models of skate shoes, Nike SB continued to struggle against other core brands.
Shortly after emerging into skateboarding, Nike SB tried a different approach to help improve the sales, marketing and image by signing professional skateboarder Paul Rodriguez Jr. to the team in 2004. Often times labeled the Michael Jordan of skateboarding, Paul Rodriguez was awarded Transworld’s Rookie of the Year in 2003 and took home the gold in the 2004 Summer X Games. The addition of Paul Rodriguez to the Nike SB team helped improve the brand’s image while continually growing Nike’s reputation of sport superstars. A year after Paul Rodriguez joined with Nike SB, he began working directly with Nike to formulate his first pro model skate shoe, creating the P-Rod signature series. Unlike other skate shoes the P-Rod series features state of the art technology designed by Nike such as visible Zoom Air to help add cushioning as well as board feel. As the P-Rod series evolved so did the technology, with 5 different series the P-Rod shoe continues to be a highly sought after skate shoe for both its durability and style.
As Nike SB continued to grow their professional skate team grew as well. In 2007 Nike SB released their first skateboarding video called “Nothing But The Truth” and featured names like Paul Rodriguez, Stefan Janoski, Eric Koston, Omar Salazar and more including amateur riders and a few flow riders. A few years later in 2009 pro riders Stefan Janoski and Eric Koston were signed to the Nike SB skateboarding team, followed by Omar Salazar in 2010. After their arrivals Nike worked with both Stefan Janoski and Eric Koston to create their own signature model shoes, the Nike SB Zoom Stefan Janoski and the Nike SB Eric Koston. With each new model of shoe, Nike incorporated new technology to enhance the performance of each shoe. The Zoom Stefan Janoski shoes feature the Nike Zoom Air insole and air pocket for extra impact support. In 2010 Nike introduced Lunarlon, a super soft and lightweight foam into the market. The Nike SB Eric Koston was the first shoe to feature Lunarlon as well as omit the midsole entirely, enhancing impact support while keeping the shoe lightweight and flexible.
Over the past 10 years Nike SB has played a huge role in the skateboarding industry. With their determination, eye for talent, and creativity fused into technology Nike was able to push past the hurdles and competition and establish themselves as a one of the core skateboarding brands. Featuring some of the most well-known and talented riders in skateboarding, like Paul Rodriguez, Eric Koston, Stefan Janoski and more, Nike continues to bring their innovation and new designs to the world of skateboarding while constantly pushing the envelope of design and technology further than it has ever gone before.