First released back in 2006, the Skytop’s unique armour-plate aesthetic was a revelation. The second and third versions were worthy follow-ups, but as Supra has matured into a heavyweight contender, maintaining the status of their flagship model is suddenly more important than ever. Introducing the Skytop IV. Channeling a dose of sci-fi cinema, retro basketball and high stakes fashion, Chad Muska’s latest design is another polarising tour de force. Chad explains his inspiration in our exclusive interview.
Hey Chad. Last time we talked, the Skytop III had just come out, what’s been happening?
Well, Supra’s grown a lot, it’s been crazy watching where it started to where it’s at now. Things change in style but the idea with the Skytop was always for us to do something different. I’m really excited about the new one, because to me it really feels like when I did the first Skytop, when I got a good feeling in my stomach about it being real. Some of the salespeople were kind of like, ‘What the heck is this thing, it’s too crazy!’. Whenever they start saying that, I’m happy because when they get scared that means it’s going to be really successful.
It seems to have a little bit of everything.
For me it’s a perfect mix between the past, the present and the future. I’ve been interested in the idea of life right now, our history as humans, how did we get here and where are we going to? So in a weird way, I think this shoe has history from the past with references you can see, it goes along with the current trends but still has this futuristic feel to it. Basically it’s blending together a lot of different aspects of my life, such as the athletics side, skateboarding, basketball shoes and fashion. I think this shoe is a pretty good representation of merging those worlds.
I agree. This shoe reminds me of a prop from a film like Alien. Was the Air Mag an influence?
Yeah, I’m trying to think. I pay close attention to sneaker culture but I’m not like the guy that knows every single shoe. I’m subliminally influenced by all kinds of things, but I’m not directly going back to shoes and going, ‘Okay, let’s flip this version of that or whatever?’. But all these shoes over the years are in my brain one way or the other, you know what I mean? I don’t even know what shoe you’re talking about?
The shoe from Back to the Future.
Oh fuck yeah, fuck yeah, I know that one, of course. That shoe is like imbedded in my brain since I saw that film for sure. I think every Skytop model has been chasing the dream of that shoe since the beginning, yeah for sure, I wanted a pair of those so bad. I saw a couple of people who brought those somehow, I was like, ‘Damn I want those!’.
I must check the prices, they were four grand when they came out, I wonder if they’ve settled down.
I didn’t even know they actually came out. When I was a kid, I was so poor that that shoe was not even real. There was no such thing as even thinking about getting them at that time, you know what I mean? But I didn’t realise that they actually sold them. I think Ben Baller has a pair, so I was just like, ‘How the hell did he get those?’. Did they make them ever?
Two years ago, it was front page on CNN, MTV, BBC and NBC.
Oh shit, I should start watching the news. [laughs]
It’s only the biggest thing to happen in the last five years of sneakers. [Laughs] I think the way you’ve described the shoe is absolutely spot on, it’s a little bit of absolutely everything. How is it to skate in?
Hands down, this is the best skate shoe I’ve ever made in my life. That’s crazy because people will look at it like it’s high-end sneaker style, but it’s really the best skate shoe. From the elongated toe, which gives you a good flick area, to where the seam comes all the way back which allows you to stay on your tippy toes, it has really good feel on your board. That big heel with the EVA piece is super, super cushioned, and it has good heel support for bruising and impact. I don’t have the physics behind that, but it feels good. The rubber panel that’s right in the middle of the shoe is a total shark bite protector too. We didn’t even really think about that when we were designing the shoe, it was more of an aesthetic, but it’s good for protection.
Was the inner sock-bootie something you asked for?
Yeah I’ve always liked booties. I like when I put my foot into a shoe for it to feel snug and hold the foot like a slipper almost, it gives it just a little bit extra. It feels like you get a cleaner inside feeling as well, it eliminates all the stitching and stuff .
What’s with the crazy flap on the back with the medieval spikes holding it down.
Oh yeah. What colour did you get?
Yeah, that concept came from the Skytop III. Originally I wanted to do this slip-on, almost like an ankle brace, but with a little pouch. I wanted it to be a completely separate item where you slipped it on and it was like a high top extension. I just like the idea of transforming things and having different ways of manipulating them in some cool way. The heel flap came out cool and we’re stoked on it, but it’s only going to come on the original first two releases of the shoe.
It’s like an overcoat for the shoe. Kinda hides the curves though.
I think it’s a really cool idea and a good concept, but I agree, in a weird way it almost hides how cool this shoe is. I think it scared people initially but then as I started wearing it around, people were like, ‘Oh shit it looks good!’. You can rock it with the extension up a notch or put it towards the front, or mix and match the colours if you want. But yeah, it’s cool, because the first guys will get the extra flap and then it’s done, so those are the only people that will ever have it.
You mentioned before how much Supra has grown. Generally when a company gets big, the pressure to conform means you see less risks.
Yeah, bigger numbers means bigger mistakes. Some ideas that we did in the past to try whatever the heck we wanted could have been thousands of dollars, but now it gets up to millions of dollars if you make a mistake. That’s where it gets scary and there’s more pressure, because more people are depending on that shoe to perform. Especially with the Skytop, because it’s one of the main franchises within Supra. When it comes to creating a shoe that we all think is cool, it has to sell through too. If you’re going to sit at home and draw a picture, you’re not going to think about anything, you’re just going to draw a picture but as soon as someone goes, ‘I like that picture you drew, can you draw me one like this?’, you end up thinking about how to start, what to do, is it going to be right, you know what I mean?
Yeah absolutely. Thanks Chad, anything else on your mind?
Shoot, I don’t know, I think that’s pretty much it. I always give Josh Brubaker (Supra designer) a shout because he’s the man and I just love working with him. Josh is the engineer and I’m just the orchestrator. I have a lot of ideas that I’ve been focusing on with art and all these different sculptures which lead to different ideas for shoe designs and I just like trying to come up with what’s going to be next. My goal always is to look at something that’s popular, but make it mine and make it different, but still have mass appeal. When you do something really different and it does succeed, it’s usually super successful as opposed to just selling through okay. I’m never really content with just being good, I want to do great, I want to push the envelope and it seems to have worked pretty good so far. I don’t know if I’m saying that right?
Yes you are, thanks!
Check out our Supra Skytop IV first look preview feature here.