DC’s Resurgence Transcends Skateboarding
During the late 2000s, it felt like DC were chasing the vulcanised trend, which was a polar shift from their puffy tongued roots. Frankly put, skateboarding fell out of vogue. It was cast back to the fringes of society, where it had originally existed, and many brands like DC had to determine new ways to sell their wares. In hindsight, this might seem surprising to some, especially when you consider the rising popularity of skate culture today. Nonetheless, that was the reality, and a fair share of popular brands from that era didn’t survive this pivotal shift.
To truly understand where DC’s going in 2019, it’s important to know where they came from.
Flip through any Big Brother magazine from the late 90s and you’ll notice that DC had an incredible team. It was unparalleled, consisting of riders like Danny Way (who was later famed as the first man to jump the Great Wall of China), Rob Dyrdek, Rick Howard, Mike Carroll, Josh Kalis, Kenny Hughes and Stevie Williams. Many of these riders have come and gone since those heady days, but the legacy and photographs that remain from that golden era live on.
As DC co-founder Damon Way mentioned to Jenkem Magazine back in October, ‘If you can create really strong creative and cultural alignments between what a brand is doing and who’s representing it, I think you can establish a defendable front line’. While assembling a strong team is one thing, brands need to deliver on the product front. After all, skateboarding footwear is all about the riders wearing it.
Those old enough to own Issue 49 of Big Brother will understand that philosophy. In this particular issue, DC announced that Kenny Hughes and Stevie Williams were going pro. They would be subsequently be representing two new models: the Bryton and the Essence. It was all announced in a four-page spread that was headed ‘WE MAKE SKATEBOARDING TWICE AS FUN (Two New Shoes, Two New Team Members)’. The Essence was later regarded as one of DC’s most treasured silhouettes, largely due to the talents of Stevie Williams.
Before DC hit the scene, skate shoes were almost exclusively uncomplicated kicks lacking the confidence, and performance attributes, of basketball sneakers. And this was part of the reason why DC’s designers began attempting to disrupt the market — introducing styles like the Lynx, the Legacy, and the Stevie Williams into the world of skateboarding. Those shoes now enjoy icon status amongst skaters, and are integral pieces in the DC story.
When Damon Way separated from the brand in 2008, some of the DNA that had made DC so powerful in the late 90s and early 00s started to slip away. Damon’s entrepreneurial spirit and creative sensibilities brought tremendous value to DC’s overall vision. He helps them honour the past without getting trapped by it. Hence the excitement surrounding his return to DC in 2016.
If you’ve been paying attention, you might have noticed the ‘DCSHOECOUSA’ branding gradually returning to DC’s heritage shoes. This was a direct result of Damon’s return. After nearly a decade away, he came back to a brand that had lost confidence and consistency in its identity. Now, the DCSHOECOUSA logo is again a key part of the brand, and you can expect to see more of this in the coming years.
However, DC are not simply rehashing old product because it’s cool or popular. They have made great strides in the past few years, none more so than aligning themselves with Canadian label Dime. This partnership, which launched with the Legacy OG and the Dime Glory Challenge, has blossomed into a friendship that’s proven invaluable in connecting the brand to a new generation that is way too young to remember DCs being on the cover of every skate magazine worth reading. Dime’s imaginative spirit and zero-cares approach has meshed well with what DC represents.
According to DC’s Global Head of Marketing, Michael Minter, their partnership with Dime ‘Will definitely continue, but will evolve organically based on real-time goals and interests. We have some content trips on deck with them, but will take a year off from product collaboration as we both explore some fresh projects.’ Sadly this probably means no Dime footwear in 2019, but expect to see some clips folks!
While the DC design language will continue to express itself across a full spectrum, from vulcanised shoes to winter jackets, the current trends around retrofitting, scale, and skate ‘bravado’ certainly play in their favour. They have some exciting OG re-issues, re-interpretations, and franchise expansions on deck. For the Kalis, they will actually be going against the typical flow and following up the Kalis Lite with some exclusive heritage offerings, plus a completely new Kalis S releasing in January.
Michael described DC’s current position best when he told us, ‘Forever rooted in skateboarding, DC will continue to be a brand that’s all about pushing. Pushing boundaries. Pushing skate culture. Pushing design. Our goal is to inspire creative rule-breakers and equip them to express their style and attitude, on or off a board.’