2020 feels like forever ago, but a huge opportunity came to us at KCDC skate shop that year. Nike had reached out to us about collaborating on a shoe color way. Little did the team know at Nike, but the date initially picked for the launch was our 20th anniversary! The timing aligned perfectly, and we had our hearts set on showing the world who we are as KCDC through this shoe. I didn’t know what a wild ride I would be on for the next year and a half with skateboarding’s biggest shoe supplier, and Amy, the queen of Brooklyn's skate community.
I had a background in fashion design and had been working with Amy for a year already, so naturally, this project spoke my language. I knew however, for this project to be successful and mean something beyond a sneaker, I was going to have to capture Amy Ellington’s personal essence and legacy into the dunk, a creative challenge that I was excited to take on.
When we first got on the phone with glee after our first call with Nike, the initial ideas started flowing. I remember clear as day, we both came to a conclusion at the same time - ‘it needs to be pink.’ It was a way of taking the color back, for all those times companies didn’t cater to women in the skateboarding world. Their answer was to ’shrink it and pink it,’ assuming the color was a slap-on bandage for the larger picture that was being ignored.
Amy always advocated for women skaters, asking “What’s the smallest size you will make of this shoe” and was a stand-out as the only sole-female-owned shop. She supported the women’s scene before any conglomerate used women skaters for their marketing scheme. This time, we would make it pink, for everyone.
I wanted to dig deeper into Amy’s journey and we started with her connections to Nike SB over the years. KCDC was one of the first accounts to carry Nike SB and even had the first event for SB with Paul Rodriguez back in the day. Early on in Amy’s retail days of opening the shop she was connected and mentored by Sandy Bodecker who started the SB line of Nike. The strong relationship between the two sparked the starting point of the design.
Amy loved the sea crystal dunks that Sandy designed. As a way to pay homage to him and his legacy, we kept the tonality and luxe materials used in the sea crystals. We also loved how the sea glass green stood out when it was on foot, there was so much awesome video footage of the pros wearing the crystals and it was obvious to spot. We wanted to have the same effect but in pink. We had an awesome neutral pink with tonal overlays similar to the sea crystal.
I wanted to know about the early days of Amy, like when many of us young kids who are just getting started, those younger earlier years where not a lot makes sense yet when you begin your path and don't know your full potential yet. I wanted to rewind to that time with her, which I discovered was Amy being a young model for several brands and in her spare time going to punk and hardcore shows, most at CBGB’s. She was in NY at a time when skaters, rappers, models, and artists were one world. The crossover was amazing and was the boom of NYC and of course NY skating.
She moved from Long Island to the city and was quickly taken in by skaters. She had a place to crash and amazing friends, making NYC her new home. She knew then that she wanted to return the favor, and that she did. In 2001, she started KCDC, a home for all skateboarders. Thus started the legacy and so many stories that would come out of KCDC.
I knew I wanted to incorporate her history of punk and hardcore shows, her love of CBGB's helped inspire the name of KCDC. This felt important and I wanted to capture some essence of this into the shoe. When discussing what the scene was like at these shows, she replied ‘Everyone was wearing dunks or docs’- a perfect anecdote of what we could incorporate into the shoe.
To go along with our mission of making this a high-quality luxury feeling show, we incorporated triple needle stitching- a nod to Doc boots while also providing extra durability through a subtle detail. We also added the metal grommets on ear flaps and the exaggerated back tabs were also a wink at the inspiration. The swoosh of the shoe had a nubuck leather on a second layer to beef up the iconic logo in a similar leather to Docs.
Working with the Nike design team was awesome, they let us do our thing and chimed in when they knew how to enhance our ideas further. They provided us with options of how to capture the air-sole look into the dunk with a black and translucent brown sole. We of course had to pop the cup-sole stitching as well.
And while the history of Amy was what made up the core of this shoe, I also felt it was important to capture what KCDC is today. At this point we had an incredible staff. It felt very family as everyone worked through covid and we all were working together through the tough times. Jacob Campbell who worked at the shop was always doodling on everything, all these amazing characters and pieces of his thoughts onto whatever was next to him at the shop. This felt like it encompassed the energy of the shop and I wanted to highlight that in our shoe. It felt fun to put it as a surprise in the sock liner of the shoe and as a tonal embroidery in the cuff. This story we also translated into our merch that accompanied the dunk during our launch. Still keeping true to Amy’s heritage, we incorporated an anchor in Jacob’s drawing, a symbol that harkens back to her upbringing in coastal Long Island.
Another meaning we incorporated was a pop of emerald green. Initially, we were wanting to use pink and green as it's a preppy colorway, a way to reference Long Island’s prep style. In a search for more inspiration, we looked up how 20 years of business was represented as different gemstones and colors, and of course- 20 years was emerald green! We knew we had to add this into the design and rather than disrupting the tonality we were borrowing from the sea crystal on the outside of the shoe, we added it to the sock liner and decided to add it to one foot.
We kept the emerald green sock liners with exploded Jacob graphics for the friends and family pairs. We requested this so close to the deadline, that it wouldn’t have happened without our amazing Nike partners who moved quickly to make our dreams happen.
After a few rounds of meetings and samples, we finalized our design via Zoom as covid was still lingering around. It was such an exciting moment and I couldn’t believe it- we had captured all the different aspects we wanted to in one shoe!
This shoe encompasses Amy’s relationship with Nike SB, her early days of hardcore shows, and the current day KCDC through Jacob’s drawings in the sock liner, all while being a rich, luxurious shoe, and of course- in pink! I’ve been staring at this shoe for over 2 years now and I still am in love with it, and I hope that love continues much like KCDC’s long-standing legacy, for years to come.
April 24, 2023
I think you should name them cotton candy !