March 26, 2014 BY Aaron Kr. / 16
There once was a time when it was just about completely unheard of for independent skate shoe brands like Etnies, DC, and Duffs to be on the same wall as Air Jordans and running shoes, and there was little common ground to justify those two worlds ever crossing paths. There were definitely early basketball models from Nike, adidas, and Puma that caught on with ’80s skaters, but on the retail end, it was still two drastically different worlds.
By the early ’90s, skateboarding began to boom further into the mainstream at the same time that hip-hop culture was doing the same, and while there was definitely plenty of crossover between the personalities, when it came to the footwear, there was still a general divide. Then Nike SB came along and changed everything in regards to the dynamics of the skate business and its consumer base.
The insane popularity of SB Dunks brought non-skaters into the skateshops, on one hand ruffling the feathers of the longtime regulars, but on the other, bridging a once unthinkable gap between two seemingly unrelated subcultures. All of a sudden, kids who wanted Jordans and Air Max’s now wanted skate shoes, and as a result, the two aesthetics would then begin to blend and intermingle with the rising streetwear movements to become a new blurred-line era of sneaker style with completely redefined demographics.
A perfect example of things coming full circle is well-respected Grand Rapids shop, Premier, who started as a Midwest skate mecca, but eventually branched out into other non-skate categories and brands as a result of the changing demands of their customers. What started with non-skaters looking to get their hands on skate shoes has flipped to a scenario where most people just seem to want cool sneakers regardless of their intended purpose or which side of the fence they were on before Dunkmania hit.
Nowadays, Premier still caters to its loyal core of skate diehards, but has broadened their selection to offer a much wider variety of brand options, including Saucony, who they’ve been carrying for the past few years. After jumping in the collab fray with two SB Dunk projects, Premier now steps outside the skate-zone and shows off some versatility with an upcoming set of Saucony runners.
Dubbed the “Life on Mars” pack, the Michigan shop has whipped up two very tasty colorways of the Shadow 6000 inspired by the Red Planet, and they’re set to release in-store and online this Saturday, March 29th. Before they land on Earth, we caught up with Premier’s Eric Blanding to get the full story on the “Mars” 6000s, the evolution of the shop, and more.