the supra designer interview
As the recently introduced and super comfy Skytop V just got released in bold art deco colors for the Miami edition, we had a chance to sit down with Designer Adam Contreras in Berlin beforehand and wanted to know more about Chad Muska’s Number five in the Skytop family.
“If people talk shit, I did my job.”
I’m based in downtown Los Angeles. When I moved from Utah, I started working with Angel (Cabada - Supra Founder) in the 413 store. I actually begun packing boxes and sending out Supra shoes. Getting bored of packing boxes I started out doing color ways. After being a free intern for two months I kinda worked my way up, while Head designer Josh Brubaker took me under his wings. I didn’t study shoe design and I think it’s good to come from a different background with other inspirations.
I love to walk around and watch people. I’m super inspired by architecture. My mantra is more like filling the depth. Like when I look at this railing, I’m thinking about how to cooperate this into a shoe. Taking the idea of the shoe and building stuff around it. (Pointing at the Skytop V) Like here there are 3 to 4 different layers.
Right now I’m very much into indian architecture with exaggerated lines.
Shoe Design Influences
Personally I like simple things and I’m more the Vans Era or Chuck - kinda guy. As far as design goes - the Presto is one of my favorite shoes. You can see a similarity and the challenge. Taking something that doesn’t really deserve to be on a shoe and try to cooperate that.
This started out as a running inspired shoe, but the more and more Chad and me got into it, we had to make it skate-able. The biggest challenge was to make a modern looking shoe, that you can skate in. In a lot of ways that is how Supra came out as company. Initially some people are like “What the fuck is that?” and then it takes a minute to digest what it is. It’s never normal, but it get’s more accepted I guess. I think people just have to get over the running-inspired look, as it is perfectly skate-able. Like the Supra TUF lamination. I you followed Supra, then you should be familiar with the extra strong coating of Leather to make it extra strong. Now we found a way to apply this on mesh, make it stretchable and able to adjust it to the individual foot.
Sometimes you need to take a step back to modernize a skate shoe with the running influence and still design a skate shoe.
Working With Chad
Chad was super easy to work with. Instead of coming up with a straight idea, it was more a back and forth conversation over a few months until we came to the point to start developing the shoe. My job as a designer was to make his vision become reality. It was very much a co-developing effort. Some feature like the neoprene booty and running aspect were set, but working with him was really easy. It got to a point when we both call each other at 3 in the morning to exchange ideas. It was a fun process to work with such a legend. I come more from a fashion angle and he kinda pulled me back and said “We need these for skate rats.”
The circle in the tongue very much came from Chad. Through his art the circle is an recurring symbol he lives is life around. It took a while to figure out how to make it work perfect. First we came out with the embroider, but it came off and we had to laminate it again. The hole gets punched first and then it’s a hotmelt process.
Skytop Family Similarities
We looked back for notable features of all Skytops: the heel strap for sure, the side lines / side panel, but also different tongues and the clean band. If you look close and taking a step back from the Skytop V, you will realize that you the re-occurring number five. You have the V, you have 5 laceloops, 5 parts of the sole, 5 stripes on the side panel, ..
Future Of Footwear
We’ve seen a lot of hotmelt and very technical stuff, but I think at a certain point it will come back to more traditional shoemaking, but with a twist to it. Like everything comes around in circles and our challenge as designer is to get ahead of that and think about how to make look traditional materials special.
It’s gotten more simple. like to dig more into materials and textures instead of too many color ways. I rather take a simple color palette and make sure, that I have enough textures to go along with.
That’s also how I started.. I used to saw a lot, making my own jeans, hoodies and sweater. Patterns are the most important thing to me. Getting the pattern right as a designer is the most important part. You talk about a millimeter, but that’s a world of difference.
3D Vs. 2D
There are two ways to work on shoe designs. A lot of people to 3D, but 2D is how to make paper patterns. I draw on Illustrator. With 3D you present the shoe to the boss or the customer, but i think it’s unnecessary. At the end of the day, you can make it in 3D, but the patterns have to be right on two dimensions.
The Side View
We’ll do different views, but for the most part it’s the sideview. The shape is super important to me. I always look first at the top view, but there are a lot of companies with a shitty top view, that almost wrecks the whole shoe.
Team Design Input
Everybody has their input, like Erik Ellington would come in and spray paint his shoe or use different laces. But Chad is definitely the legend who has been around forever and has input on everything.
I walk or skate around the city a lot and like to get in the mix of what’s going on. I like to observe people’s styles, look at their shoes and sometimes wouldn’t really guessed that choice. I love to be around people and study them. My sport is to sit at a bar drinking.
Reborn As An Animal
I would pick a dog, because there almost like people with their own personalities. Being a dog is like being on vacation all the time and getting treats.
The interview happend during a three-day Supra party in Berlin to honor of Skytop's tenth anniversary:
“Skytop V Is an evolution of a skate shoe. We wanted to create something that not only skates well but pushes the boundaries of skateboarding and fashion. It’s a show that initially might make someone a little bit uncomfortable but the more you look, it becomes digestible. The Skytop legacy has always been forward thinking for our industry, but now that the idea of fashion and skate has become intertwined, the idea is how to merge the two worlds. At the end of the day, anyone that defines themselves between those different worlds will appreciate the shoe.”