'Exploded View': Evolution of a skate shoe
Alphonzo Rawls, a professional skateboarder who rode for some of the defining skate brands of the 1990s, continues to shape the current skate landscape through his footwear designs for top skate-shoe manufacturers such as DC Shoes, Osiris and Fallen Footwear.
Throughout the past 20 years, Rawls has watched the industry blossom and enlarge.
"The designs have changed in the way that skateboarding's culture has expanded," he says. "In the earlier days, being that skateboarding was an offshoot of surfing, a lot of the fashion reflected that. As it evolved and grew, a lot of other cultures got involved, so the fashion and influence is much broader than it was."
Alphonzo Rawls: Covers and concepts
If you've been in a skate shop or a skatepark in the past decade, you've seen Rawls' work. He's designed successful shoes for Duffs, Fallen and DC Shoes, to name a few. His history as a skateboarder has played a key role in his success as a designer.
And, in his opinion, we're looking toward a more progressive future. "I think you'll start seeing shoes with more technology designed into them," he explains. "I don't foresee vulcanized [construction] going away, but I think you'll see a lot of cup soles and probably more multi-pieced outsole construction that lends itself to more functional features."
For Rawls, the world is his palette and he's looking for ideas everywhere: "I'm all over the place when it comes to influences, whether it's furniture, architecture, cool car designs -- women's purses, believe it or not. Even toothbrushes I find inspiration in, regarding the molds and all the different characteristics."
For more on how Rawls takes a concept and turns it into wearable, functional design, check the video above. For original shoe artwork from, and skate photos of, Rawls, click here.