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SELECT 1 on 1: Chad Muska Breaks Down the Supra Skytop IV & More

November 12, 2013by Aaron Kr.
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“I make shoes for people who like to wear something different and unique. If you skate, that’s just a bonus.” – Chad Muska

That quote pretty eloquently sums up what Supra has been all about since they first launched the brand back in 2006. Chad Muska has been along for the ride since day 1, not just by lending his legendary name and feet as an endorser, but also as one of the visionary minds behind some of Supra’s most memorable and successful designs. When his friend Angel Cabada founded the brand almost a decade ago, it was a natural fit to join forces with Muska, who was not only a widely revered and mega-influential skateboarding maverick, but also an endless source of creativity who was constantly branching out and dabbling in the world’s of art and music as well.

Muska turned out to be a perfect complement to what Supra was bringing to the table; first by lending his respected name as an endorser, but even more so when he got behind the design table to start bringing his own unique footwear visions to life. 2007 saw the introduction of the Supra Skytop, Chad Muska’s super high-cut first signature model with the brand. Influenced by some things that were going on in high fashion at the time, the Skytop in turn went on to spread the trend to the more casual/athletic footwear market in an impactful fashion that can’t be denied.

For all intents and purposes, the Skytop put Supra on the map on a much broader scale. They had already made some noise in the skate world, but the Skytop helped them cross over into the lifestyle market and reach a whole new audience full of customers eager to embrace the bold look offered by Muska’s knee-scraping creation. Before you knew it, Skytops were everywhere you looked, followed by other Supra models that people were finding their way to both the skate crowd and the fashion-forward trendsetters looking to turn heads on the street.

With a tough act to follow, Muska eventually went back to the drawing board and brought us the even higher Skytop II in 2009 before completely flipping the script again with the lower cut and teched-out Skytop III two years later. Now with the introduction of the Skytop IV, it all comes full circle. The height is back, but so is the tech, making for a daring futuristic look with versatile applications that go well beyond just skateboarding. The first two colorways of the Skytop IV will release before the end of the year, complete with a cool removable heel shroud that won’t be available on the later versions, but before they’re upon us, we wanted to get the inside story straight from the source. Continue on for our interview with skateboarding legend and Supra design guru, Chad Muska, as well as a full gallery of images and release info for the first two drops.

Sneaker News:  You obviously helped put Supra on the map with the original Skytop, but what was it that drew you to the brand in the first place?

Chad Muska:  I’ve been a part of the Supra Family before the brand was launched and had history working with Co-Founder Angel Cabada in the past. When he decided that he was going to do shoes, we both knew it would be a good match.

SN:  Are you still heavily involved in the design process for each new version of the Skytop?

Muska:  Yes. I conceptualize and work through the whole process from start to finish with all the Skytop models. I’m very passionate about creating new things that aren’t in the marketplace. The Skytop is a direct reflection of who I am.

SN:  How do you come up with these wild designs and what’s your goal going into each new model?

Muska:  Most my inspiration comes from the day to day stuff in my travels. My design is a direct reflection of my experiences. I’m constantly observing architecture, art, fashion and so much more. I’m always processing, turning over ideas that I manifest into reality. My goal for every shoe is to design something that I love to wear and am proud of.

SN:  There’s a lot going on with the Skytop IV. What were some of the influences that went into the design for this version?

Muska:  I wanted to make something that you could wear casually as an athletic shoe and also something that could be dressed up that people could wear out as well. My creative inspiration comes from all over. Most of my inspiration comes from traveling, seeing things that spark a shape or pattern in my head. The Skytop IV is mainly influenced by previous renditions. It takes lines and ideas from the first three and progresses them into the next evolution of the Skytop. I get most excited and inspired when we’re pushing the limits of what the marketplace can handle.

SN:  It’s hard to top the wow-factor of the original Skytop model when it first hit the scene. Is it essential that every new version to try to push the envelope of conventional skate shoe design in some way?

Muska:  Yes. I’m trying to push the envelope as much as possible while still designing an accessible product. Striking that balance is what I’ve been spending a lifetime perfecting. When I create anything, I really try not to compare it with anything else because then you have all these expectations to live up to. I just focus on my idea and put everything I have into it, and then let the world decide what happens from there.

SN:  The Skytop’s initial claim to fame was the super high-cut ankle, but the III and IV have scaled it back quite a bit in comparison. Was there ever any hesitation to deviate from the line’s most recognizable characteristic?

Muska:  The first Skytop was high, the second one was even higher. So on the third one, when everyone thought it would be up to your knee, we took it lower. We wanted to do something completely different. For the IV, we brought back the height. It’s actually just as tall as the original. I feel that the IV is channeling the roots and heritage of the first Skytop, but in an entirely new way. I’m very proud of this shoe and have a similar feeling as I did back when the first one came out.

SN:  Most of the initial reaction to the Skytop IV has been focused on its bold look, but how is it to skate in?

Muska:  It is honestly the best skate shoe that I have ever made. I really love to skate in them. They are ultra-supportive and protective against the harsh wear and tear on your feet from skateboarding. The cool thing about a shoe that is good to skate in is that it is also good for anything else. Basketball, dancing, or whatever else you’re doing. This is a skate shoe just as all the Skytop models have been before, but that doesn’t mean that people that don’t skate are not going to like it. I make shoes for people who like to wear something different and unique. If you skate, that’s just a bonus.

SN:  Please give us a quick rundown of some of the more notable tech features of the Skytop IV.

Muska:  Super cushion mid sole for ultra comfort and support with over exaggerated lines in the back. Inner sock lining for less foot sliding around in the shoe. Nice long toe cap for good feel on your skateboard, if you skate. Molded rubber side panel for protection and support.

SN:  What’s the idea behind the removable heel shroud?

Muska:  I like the notion of objects being able to transform into something completely different. With the Skytop IV, I wanted to create something special on this first run. For people that buy into the Skytop IV first, I designed the shroud. It’s something that the normal release won’t have. After the first two colorways drop, the shoe will never have the shroud again. I also liked the idea of the images leaking with the shroud and having it hide some of the shoe design underneath. The Shroud is kind of like when a new car is coming out and they have the leaked spy shots of it all wrapped up while they are test driving it. You can only see the silhouette of the car.

SN:  The Supra Skytop line is well-known for its daring aesthetics, but it’s still a skate shoe at the core. What’s the general split between form and function during the design process and which is the ultimate priority?

Muska:  The ultimate priority for the Skytop IV is the unification of fashion and function. Having them live together in one shoe that changes the game.

SN:  Now that Supra has established themselves as a unique identity and a strong force in the market, what do you see as the key to maintaining that success?

Muska:  Just that we continue to push ourselves creatively and have fun along the way. Trying to balance growth while designing unique shoes. We’re not trying to be all things to everyone. You’ll just blend in and melt into the masses that way. I truly believe that Supra stands for individuality. Our shoes always need to reflect that. This is the key to the brand’s longevity.

Much thanks to Chad Muska and Supra and make sure to keep an eye out for the black colorway of the Skytop IV on 11/29 and the red on 12/24. A wider general release will follow in Spring 2014, but only these first two offerings will feature the removable heel shroud.