October 23, 2014/ Anthony Pappalardo/ ARTICLES/ Comments: 71

Photo: Converse's "Sage & Sean" (2014)

Photo: Converse’s “Sage & Sean” (2014)

Following the release of Cherry, William Strobeck’s skate video for Supreme, something unexpected happened to skateboarding’s economy: skate shops started selling a shit load of Chuck Taylors. Popular in the ‘80s and then ditched for more durable skate shoes that had more ankle support, they were seen as the clown shoes of skateboarding throughout the early 90s and all but disappeared.

Cherry was meant to be a marketing tool for Supreme’s already omnipresent brand, but it might have done more for Converse’s skate program – something no one could have predicted.

Moments after Cherry dropped, everyone had an opinion about it. What about those “Fucking Awesome Kids,” this guy didn’t have enough footage, that guy surprised me, Dill being Dill was rad/annoying, and Jesus Christ, Dylan is good. That’s what a great video does and what Strobeck is able to do: show the heart of skateboarding—not just the tricks. Characters develop over the course of Cherry and you’re suddenly invested in them or opposed to them. You’re not supposed to do anything but react, and we did. But no one could have predicted a brand video reinvigorating an entirely separate brand within skateboarding.

sean pablo / photo: chris shonting

sean pablo / photo: chris shonting

We talked to a couple of east coast skate shops and they all mentioned a massive spike in the sales of Converse sneakers due to Cherry & Joyride, as well as their many notable pros and public installations. This was playfully dubbed by someone in a skate shop as the “Cherrington Effect” : A riff on Strobeck’s video and the visibility of Cons rider Aaron Herrington, who—like the brand—is highly involved with kids. Between The Rubber Tracks program, the Cons Project, and building a replica of Lockwood in Williamsburg, the Boston based brand has carved out a presence in New York, and it’s selling a lot of shoes. They’ve also made a stamp in internationally, backing Pontus Alv and Polar, along with building a string of pop-up parks and organizing events all over.

Classics always come around, as even they hit streaks of being uncool, but is the idea of a skate video as a shill for shoes anything new?

In the ‘80s, the last pair of Vans you’d entertain lacing up were chukka boots. They were disgusting—at least at first glance. Though they were less bootlike than the thigh-high Airwalks that were popular then, no one wanted to skate in boots, and what the fuck was a “chukka” anyway? Well, one guy was OK skating in boots and shoes, and he happened to be really good at skateboarding. Good enough to influence a generation of kids. His name? Matt Hensley.

matt hensley / photo: daniel harold sturt

matt hensley / photo: daniel harold sturt

Matt Hensely, with an assist from Neil Blender, was responsible for making the chukka boot cool in 1990, making something so ugly look so attractive and creating a demand, proving the marketing power of a skateboarding video. Of course you needed the other accoutrements to fully become a Faux Hensely, and thousand of kids across the US and A emulated him with cut off cargo pants, chain wallets, and unique pre-ollie posture. He also helped Operation Ivy sell tens of thousands of LPs in the process, and they had broken up a year prior.

Chuck Taylors might have never been actually out of fashion, but they certainly lost popularity in skating during the massive era of progression in the early ‘90s. In fact, they are still the best selling sneaker of all time and with some slight tweaks to their construction and marketing, they’ve been completely revitalized among skateboarders, along with the entire Converse brand. When a kid pushes around in a pair, hair flopping to one side, bejeweled fingers on his lead knee, he’s got the same feeling as a kid in the ‘70s emulating the Z-Boys, a hunched over Hensely-ite, or all the Jr. Piss Drunks out there spiking their hair.

When style is captured by someone with the skill to see it and document it the right way, it can be provocative, inspiring, and it can definitely sell sneakers. Backed by a brand in touch with where skateboarding is, coupled by the speed at which things change in the social media age, the impact can hit like a lightning bolt, cracking open an entirely new market. Credit Strobeck, Converse and a handful of charismatic skateboarders for revitalizing a shoe and forcing everyone to have an opinion about a heritage brand.

Cherry is a commercial—sometimes we forget that these things ARE made to sell shit. Supreme doesn’t really have any problems selling out of whatever they put their box logo on, from can openers to plain white tees, but I’m sure the brand didn’t realize how much of an impact they would have on Chuck Taylors. Of course they’re still a store, and a brand, so they only benefit by juicing up what they sell – but this could have been the first time in skateboarding that a company video ended up promoting a separate brand more successfully than itself. Even Sean Pablo said in a recent VHS Mag interview that he “probably wouldn’t have fully gotten on Converse if [he] weren’t in Cherry.”

Both Supreme and Converse are massive global brands that managed to draw attention to themselves in 2014 without being obnoxious or coming off as huge as they actually are. In fact, when you think of the Massachusetts founded brand’s skate program, it’s easy to forget they’re a company that was purchased by Nike in 2003 for over 300 million dollars.

So Cherry, Joyride and all those melancholy Polar clips might have been a coup for Converse, but is this going to be the next trend in cross-marketing? Are we going to see a spike in kids wearing Red Bull beanies after the Plan B video drops?

Perhaps the smartest thing brands that are enormous outside of skateboarding can do to maintain a presence in our subculture is nothing. Take a more hands off approach: let the director film, the skaters skate, and have it unfold organically, without being intrusive or leveraging some forced marketing initiative. Unlike other brands in skateboarding bashing us over the heads with elaborate campaigns, drilling #hashtags into our head, maybe the most tactical marketing move a big brand can make is to take a step back, respect our culture and let the skateboarders do it themselves.

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  1. Harya

    November 13, 2014 4:49 am

    Follow saya : @haryabnf

  2. great the skater

    November 19, 2014 8:47 pm

    William Storbeck is a very famous skateboarding video creator. William Storbeck created the skateboarding films Joyride, 48 Blocks, and his most popular film Cherry. Cherry is a skateboarding video demonstrating the skills that people sponsored by Supreme obtain. The skateboarding video Cherry consisted of 68 skateboarders who are well known around the world including Keith Hufnagel, the inventor of the clothing company HUF. Supreme is a very popular, high end skateboarding based clothing store located in new york and california. In my opinion, Supreme is an awesome company, but their prices can be very expensive. The skateboarders who were in the film Cherry all had their own style. They didn’t just have their own style in skateboarding, they had a very unique style of clothing. Many of the skaters wore high water jeans cuffed up, very high socks, chuck taylor shoes, bucket hats, and supreme clothing. Soon after the release of the video, Skateboarders everywhere started to buy more chuck taylor shoes, and giving skateboarding shops all around the world much more business. I think the release of the skateboarding video Cherry was a very good idea for Supreme. Skateboarders all around the world are very influential, which gives the idea of what to wear to the kids or adults that they are influencing. I am very influenced by the professional skateboarders that i see in videos, and i base my clothing selection off what i like. I love the skateboarding company thrasher, and diamond supply co, so I buy their clothes, and wear them. If i could add something to the article that Anthony Pappalardo did not fully recognize was how the skateboarders in the film Cherry influenced not only the clothing worn by skateboard fans, but the style of skating. Many people including me have found such an attraction to the skaters in Cherry’s style that we would want to copy their style in order to not only be unique, but to show how much we enjoyed watching the professionals.

  3. Titmgee

    December 15, 2014 11:36 pm

    cberry was a good watch those kids fucking rip . im old now and dont skate due to a bung leg but if i had a choice id say let the damn kids do whateva the fuck they want.

  4. Titmgee

    December 15, 2014 11:36 pm