Snake Tales: Soulland's Silas Adler Chats This Weekend's Nike SB Drop!
Nike SBs are currently enjoying a genuine resurgence in the sneaker industry, re-filling the rotations of 'heads across the globe, as well as receiving an increasing number of high profile colabs. If you dig a little deeper into the origins of this latest wave, you'll notice the influence of Copenhagen natives Soulland, putting together a number of banging colabs to get the wheels rolling. Back in 2016, they put their unique spin on two Eric Koston silhouettes: the Koston 1 and the Koston 3 Hyperfeel. Both models were decked out in premium materials, making them instant cops for skate nerds the world over. One year later, in 2017, Soulland kept the momentum going with a ferociously deconstructed set of Dunks.
Of course, the real 'heads never turned their back on the game, and the SB fan base is pretty much its own sneaker subculture, as chronicled across 62 glorious pages in Issue 38 of Sneaker Freaker. However, a broader fan base has turned their gaze back to the SB line in the past five years, and it's been a constant in their checkout ever since – thanks, in part, to the hand played by Soulland.
As a sneakerhead, Soulland's Silas Adler has always felt some type of affinity with the Air Jordan 1, maybe he sought inspo from Lance Mountain and the rest of the AJ1-loving Bones Brigade in The Search for Animal Chin? Whatever the case, Silas took to the AJ1-inspired Dunk with a scalpel, giving it a neat little tummy tuck.
Late last year, we put the strong word on Soulland to drop another set of SBs, because we hoped to again see them push the boundaries on their colabs. Clearly they listened, as they've delivered a snake-skinned Blazer Mid. In the lead up to the exclusive release of the FRI.day 3.0 SB collection in Japan and Europe, we clutched some time from Silas' busy schedule to chat about Soulland's previous Nike SB ventures, and why he feels he went completely off the road with this one.
Yo Silas, this is the third time Soulland have collaborated with Nike SB. When you started the brand, did you ever think you could achieve something like this?
When you're growing up, the distance between doing projects like this is so far that you don't really see it possible. Similar to being a professional skateboarder, coming of age in an outskirt part of Europe, it doesn't seem like it's even a possibility. But on your journey, you learn the landscape that you're working in, and things happen. So yeah, I'm very happy and thankful for that.
I'm by no means a pro skateboarder. [Laughs] Just to clarify that too.
Since your inaugural collection back in 2016, every one has incorporated wild adjustments to the silhouettes. Was this done on purpose to position the FRI.day collections through the skateboarding lens?
Of course, the whole idea for me was to see how much I could fuck with the silhouette and how much I was able to push the boundaries. I didn't really consider skateboarding in the design progress. Other than the shoes being part of the SB collection. For me it was important, in terms of design, to not worry about others opinions and do something different. There's a lot of SB collaborations that do great work in terms of skateboarding, and mixing it in design-wise through the skateboarding gaze. I wanted to try something different.
Is that why you opted for the punk snakeskin aesthetic, that’s not only rocking a moulded Swoosh on the side, but also an oversized chenille Swoosh wrapped around the heel?
Yeah, I guess. [Laughs] I really tried to see how far I could push it without fucking it up. Some people would probably argue that I did fuck it up. But, compared to the first two projects where the colours and materials were rather classic, I wanted to go completely off the road this time. I wanted to work with snakeskin on the FRI.day 3.0 project because it's about skateboarding in Japan, specifically Tokyo. Whenever I think about sneakers in Japan, I'm reminded of the whole impact that atmos had on the sneaker scene and the different kinds of exotic animals in their prints and materials. I have this pair of Chelsea boot Soulland prototypes that never made it into production. Not a colab, just an inline Soulland shoe that we made many years ago in snakeskin. I've been wearing them so much, that they're worn out. I needed a new snakeskin shoe! It was the perfect opportunity to cater to myself at the same time as doing this project.
Is the rubberised ollie guard there just in case an emergency session goes down?
That rubber detail pays homage to skateboarding and the original Blazer silhouette at the same time. On the original Blazer, you have an extra piece of leather in that position. And, of course, the historical aspect of skateboarding, I tried to combine those two. When you're skating, you're skating them! You tear 'em! Visually, the relevance lays in where I come from, where the shoes come from, and where skateboarding comes from. It's all combined in one.
The timing of your second Nike collection was so well-placed. Not only was it the 15th anniversary of the SB Dunk, but it laid the groundwork for the SB revival we’re still seeing. At the time, did you realise the impact that release would have?
That's really interesting because, of course, some things are planned but, to some extent, it feels like our Dunk was part of starting the new SB Dunk craze. There are other people that have had more impact on that than me. Still, it was the beginning of the revival. At the time, I didn't really think much about that. To be honest, when the Dunk got put on the table, I was a little bit sceptical of how to pull it off. Even though I like the idea of the chunky SB Dunk, and understand that there's a massive market for that, personally, I'm not really into it because I have wide feet. I'd prefer an AJ1. When I realised that I could fuck with how puffy and chunky it was, and work with that, that's when it really started to make a lot of sense for me. Especially the high one, I really love it. Which is kind of crazy, because I still haven't taken a pair home. It's like cooking, sometimes the chef isn't as hungry as the guests.
With the FRI.day 3.0 pack releasing next weekend, is the team on the road for the launch?
The team was previously on the road. We shot a film in Tokyo a month ago that we're going to release on the launch date. Another skate clip. It's very exciting to see all the people involved. Some of them have been part of every FRI.day project, some only the first. All of the people we are connecting with are our friends through skateboarding. I'm going to go to Tokyo for the launch. We're going to launch in Mortar, Shibuya with a pop-up.
Finally, can we expect to see a FRI.day 4.0 colab anytime soon?
One thing at a time!
The Soulland Nike SB Blazer will be available on November 22 from launch events at Soulland in Copenhagen and Mortar in Tokyo.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.