Intangibles, instinct, and flair. The greatest skateboarders are defined by style and originality. That’s Ishod Wair. Every line and every hammer comes down to craft, control, and confidence that Ishod exudes. For Ishod, it’s always been a balance of raw talent and obsession, getting inside skateboarding and outside of your head. After years of excellence, Nike SB and Ishod Wair present his first signature shoe, a testament to his attention to detail and imagination. Driven by every milestone, we caught up with Ishod to dig into his inspiration to start fresh for his debut signature silhouette.
Nike SB: What do you want the world to know about your first signature shoe?
Ishod Wair: I just wanted to do something different and give people a new option than what’s currently offered with Nike SB right now. Sometimes a new shoe is a spin-off of an old model or inspired by old shoes and of course, the Dunk isn’t going anywhere because they’re so classic and look so good but I wanted to do something that was completely original—to just give somebody a fresh new look.
SB: Was there something you were trying to solve for or bring to your shoe you weren’t finding in other models out there?
IW: I skate Dunks a lot and they have the cushioning I like but vulcs have that really good flick so I wanted to make it feel like both—protect your foot but have a good amount of flick and control, so that was the idea to have a vulcanized cupsole. And my feet get hot, which is why I did that Bruin that was half mesh—I wanted breathability. I worked with the team and came up with the mesh side panels so it can breathe a bit, you know what I mean?
SB: Can you talk about the significance of having a signature shoe on Nike, and joining that elite group of athletes?
IW: It's absolutely amazing. It's crazy. Koston sent me a video yesterday of him skating the shoes, telling me congrats and that they skate so well. The first video I ever saw was Yeah Right! That’s insane to me! I’m friends with him and hung out with him countless times, but it’s still a trip to come up with something, and then someone you looked up to as a child says, “This is sick!” He’s worn other shoes that I've done in the past but this is a whole new beast, you know? It's just kind of surreal because it's a big milestone.
SB: So as much as there are Jordan nods in the hero color way, it also has the feel of luxury car interiors. Was that intentional or accidental?
IW: Honestly, no, it wasn't. It wasn't a nod to my love for cars. I guess subconsciously it could have been because we picked all the fabrics and this and that. I could have subconsciously picked things that happen to coincide with my love for cars though.
SB: You’re really into vintage cars, do you think that any of those lines or details find their way into this shoe?
IW: No, because unless you’re talking about an old Porcshe—those cars are really boxy—the lines are really straight. This shoe has a lot of flow to it. The sole is wavy, the mesh is wavy, and the actual tread of the sole has a wave to it. When I'm skating, I'm trying to be organic and flow. So that's kind of where that came from.
SB: How important was it to work with a design team to come up with a silhouette that could be around for a long time?
IW: To me, it was very important because if it has my name on it. It’s such a big deal. This is the next step—the evolution of me and my professional skate shoes. It means a lot. I want people to like it and I wanted to have as much input as possible. If I could draw and design shoes, I’d pretty much be drawing shoes all day.
SB: The shoe leans into Nike technology but also feels really clean and simple. Can you talk about the importance of that tech and what you wanted performance-wise?
IW: I wanted the shoe to perform in the sense of keeping your feet safe, because, you know, I mean, these things are honestly the money makers. You don't want to jump off something and blow your heel out. So protection around your foot and breathability because like I mentioned, my feet get hella sweaty and I’m not tryin’ to get trench toe or fungus or anything. I also wanted the shoe to be flexible, so the shoe hinges even when it’s brand new—straight out of the box so you can really move your foot. Every company is trying to make a shoe that skates great out of the box and we did that—it’s perfect but then you break it in and it skates even better because it’s more pliable. The mesh is key. If you held it in your hand and kind of squish it then hold a piece of suede or rubber, you’d notice that the mesh compresses better and will be more flexible. Having that mesh window was key to getting the feel I wanted.
SB: How was it right out of the box?
IW: So good, kickflips bussin’ straight out the box.
SB: What was the inspiration for the clothing capsule?
IW: I met this girl a while back at this party in Palm Springs and she just had this really cool jacket on. It was this shorter puffer with red hexagons throughout the whole thing and I was like, ‘That’s so cool, I wanna do that.’ The idea was to have a jacket that was similar to the look and style of a puffer but slimmer because I haven’t seen anyone do that.
For the pants, you know, everybody is very particular about their pants including me, so I just made something that I would like and hopefully other people like. The big thing was making them longer because I’ve always had trouble with regular pants—the length to waist ratio is always too short. What if I want my pants to sit on my shoe, especially when you’re skating and pushing? I don't want my socks in all that high water action, I want my pants to bunch up and sit at the top of the shoe, not be floating there. When I push, I don’t wanna see my ankle. If I do, I’ll wear shorts. So if you’re the same height as me or a bit taller, you won’t have that high water thing happening and if you’re shorter, you can cut them or roll them up. People like that look anyway. Pants are better off longer because you can tailor them to what you want because if they’re too short, they’re done.
SB: Versatility seems like a big theme with you. When it comes to designing shoes or clothing, is it important that it’s all seamless?
IW: Yeah, I try to make things as easy as possible and really make things work with how I'm working. Everything just flows organically—that's the goal.
SB: Do you have a mindset or a philosophy when it comes to skating in life?
IW: Yeah, you got to pay attention to detail. The more details you pay attention to, the easier it will be, 100%. Look at an actual skateboard and how intricate it is. The difference between the parts is so small, and you can feel it. That right there tells you how technical it is. Your board, your wheels, everything comes down to inches, centimeters… millimeters. You can feel that difference. You go from 52-millimeter wheels to 54 and it’s worlds different. It’s a testament to what technical and intricate skateboarding really is. And it’s mental. Extremely, annoyingly mental.
SB: So whatever you're into, whether it's skating or cars, you're always 100% unapologetically yourself at all times. How important is it to be true to who you are at all times?
IW: Sure, think about the resurgence of all these cartoons and things that we grew up on, that were corny but now they’re back and they’re cool. Now people are doing twists on it, and making all this money and this and that. That's almost a testament to why you just have to be true to yourself, and do whatever you want to do—whatever you like—because you really never know what will catch on. Realistically, growing up...kids are really judgmental. Kids are hard on each other because everyone is insecure and trying to find themselves. So everybody is low key weird to each other. There's a lot of teasing, there's a lot of this, there's a lot of that because of immaturity. The best thing that you could do is be yourself at all times. I don't try to pay attention to what anybody else is doing because that clouds your happiness.