October 31, 2013/ Ian Graham/ ARTICLES/ Comments: 108


Skateboarding is full of beautiful things. We aren’t even that picky about what we celebrate – we have no problem debating the best looking kickflip captured in a photo. Was it Andrew Reynolds? Levi Brown? Mark Gonzales? Nate Jones? But as permissive and subjective as we can be collectively regarding what’s cool, we’re all pretty unified when it comes to things that suck. Getting kicked out of spots sucks. Breaking your arm sucks. Realizing you have no toilet paper after taking a dump sucks. These shoes are no different.


1. Supra Chimera

I get it. No matter what, you’ll sell these because Lil Wayne’s name is on them. But what the serious fuck is going on here? It’s like Marty McFly’s future-Nikes and Napoleon Dynamite’s thrift-store snowboots had sex with the cast of My Little Pony and this is their child. Is there a secret market for Brony sneakerheads?


2. Nike “Mama Bear” Dunk

Because Nike will come up with any excuse to make a “limited edition” version of anything, they made a “Three Bears” (as in Goldilocks and the…) series of dunks. In all their cleverness, they made a low-top “Baby Bear,” a mid-top “Mama Bear,” and a high-top “Papa Bear” in different colorways with fur but didn’t realize it was the ugliest looking thing outside of a cybergoth rave. I feel like there should be a warning for people with epilepsy. The ugliness isn’t even the worst part, I just looked them up on eBay and dudes are asking $900 for them. Kill me now.


3. Airwalk Velocity

Vans has been doing a simple, tasteful, functional high top for skateboarding since the early 80s. Why leopard print/orange/purple seemed like a good idea to Airwalk is beyond me. The worst part: somewhere there’s a pair of these sitting in a vintage shop in Williamsburg with a $300 price tag and someone will buy them.


4. eS Scheme

The late 90s were a bad time for skate shoes. I don’t know why “cyberpunk baked potato” was the look of choice, but eS was among the worst. For every classic (Koston, Accel) there were at least a handful of total clunkers.


5. Every Savier shoe

I’ve been told these shoes were invincible, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that they look like plastic Sketchers. It’s really hard for me to say anything remotely negative about Brian Anderson, but what the fuck, the 32-bit shoes you could put on a character in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater looked better.


6. DC VersaFlex 2

Over the years DC’s contributed some of the most horrendous designs to skate shoe history. One could dedicate a Tumblr to ugly DC shoes and have fresh content for a long, long, long time.


7. Osiris D3

If DC invented the ugly skate shoe, Osiris perfected it. Dave Mayhew’s D3 really is the epitome of ugly skate shoes, and is a major staple in the post-Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater image of skateboarders. Extra bulky, air pocket with laces seemingly an afterthought rather than a functional feature. The best part is that they don’t get buried under your giant JNCO jeans. Surprisingly, Osiris hasn’t slowed down one bit either! Your local mall store probably has a dozen or so pairs of the NYC83 plastic high top abomination, collecting dust in the clearance section.

Want more terror? Check out 7 more shoes right here.

Words: Ian Graham
To complain about all shoes he forgot, follow him on Instagram.
Original Illustration: Michael Giurato
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  1. Himeda

    November 1, 2013 3:55 pm

    …and I had a pair of Saviers bought for £25 ($37) from TK Maxx (TJ Maxx in the US). They were grey and black and quite nice to look at. They were near indestructible and came with a free skate tool/bottle opener. Double bonus.

  2. Sepehr

    November 1, 2013 11:06 pm

    Thats a D3 2001 not the original D3…
    this is the first D3:


  3. Mikey

    November 2, 2013 12:24 am

    be sure to remember that Savier was Nike’s first run into the skate shoe market

    • ian

      November 3, 2013 10:54 am

      i thought it was the 2nd? nike and adidas both made some “street tech” (totally-not-skate-shoes-you-guys-srsly) models in the mid/late 90s. adidas hooked up some dudes, like gonz, lance mountain and matt beach, but they did it kind of quietly, while nike was a bit more overt (they did that “what if other sports were treated like skateboarding?” tv ads). then savier was nike trying to be quiet about their skate program, before saying “fuck it we have the money” and starting Nike SB. all the while adidas was doing collabs with gonz and doing limited artist series, putting out IMHO the best skate slip-on since Vans, and they (still rather quietly) built a killer global team.

      …at least, that was my impression. and definitely an interesting look at two very different marketing plans.

      • t.a.

        November 5, 2013 1:54 am

        Yeah, Adidas had a program into 2000, 2001 before they revamped. Apparently Gonz has always been on ever since – even as the lone wolf. I always thought it strange that Adidas didn’t/doesn’t seem to receive the same flack that Nike Sb had/has for having a ‘skate program.’ They also had Paulo Diaz, Quim Cardona, and Jahmal Williams on there. The shoes were pretty ugly and all of their ads were the dudes in sports rehab/training of some sort. The skating seemed more of an afterthought.

      • ian graham

        November 5, 2013 2:07 pm

        agreed — i think it was because adidas kept it relatively low-profile (and doesn’t elicit the same knee-jerk reaction the name “Nike” does). now that adidas has announced their Snoop Seeley collab (exclusive for Zumiez), the negative backlash might start happening again