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Nora Vasconcellos Breaks Barriers With Her First Signature adidas Skate Shoe

By Jovani Hernandez

Nora Vasconcellos was meant to be a skater. She knew it even as a child growing up in rural Massachusetts, but had to take an ollie of faith to actualize her dream: At the age of 19, she embarked on a cross-country journey, leaving behind everything except her board and determination behind.
At 29 years old, Vasconcellos (@noravexplora on Instagram and Twitter) has left her mark on the skate world. She turned pro for adidas in 2017, the same year she placed 1st in the Vans Park Series World Championship. Thrasher listed the Pembroke, Mass. native at Number 4 in its list of the Top 10 Women & Non-Binary Skaters of 2019. But Vasconcellos has also been championing mental wellness by being vocal about her own lifelong battle with panic disorder.
For the launch of her first signature shoe with adidas Skateboarding, the NORA, we spoke with Vasconcellos via email about her inaugural collection with the Three Stripes, her mental wellness journey and future goals. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

  • Vintage-inspired Available Now

  • Working hard adidas Skateboarding

  • Smiling Nora adidas Skateboarding

The inaugural NORA footwear and apparel collection leans on straightforward, classic looks. Can we expect follow-up products to feature some of your original illustrations?
Yes, I really look forward to incorporating more artwork into upcoming projects. There’s so much to work with when designing and developing. Painting and the way those textures translate to products really interests me along with exploring sustainable materials.
You’ve been vocal about your lifelong relationship with panic disorder. Why did you decide to be public with this aspect of your life?
I think if I had known more people who had similar struggles growing up, I would have not felt so isolated and ashamed. I also think I would have been able to have confidence in my ability to overcome my anxieties much earlier than I did. It’s like throwing a life raft to someone drowning. If you had the tools and did the work to heal and saw success, why would you not offer your story?
How would you console Nora ages 6, 13 and 21 if they came to you in a moment of crisis?
I think in a compassionate and thoughtful way, which sometimes just means listening. I would also tell her how wonderfully everything plays out.
  • Design process adidas Skateboarding

  • NORA Track Top adidas Skateboarding

  • Gender Neutral adidas Skateboarding

How have you seen the world of skateboarding change since you started riding? How have you seen it remain the same?
I mean there’s been a massive growth in female participation and support in and out of the industry. I think it has remained accessible which is awesome. Overall there’s been so much more room for all different types of styles and skaters to create a career and maintain a living skateboarding.
What are some of the things you’d like to accomplish by the time you hit 10 years riding for adidas?
I’d really like to work on creating some sort of give back program. Continue to use my skateboarding and art as a vehicle to travel to new places and meet new people.
You were once quoted in Rolling Stone as having said: “I was always going to be a skateboarder, I just didn’t know that anybody was going to care.” How do you feel thinking back about that quote?
I still feel like it resonates so well with how I’m feeling and processing having a pro shoe. I’m proud and it’s so unbelievable. It’s just the cherry on top of the life I get to live on my skateboard.

  • Flying high adidas Skateboarding

  • The Great Nora adidas Skateboarding

  • Smell the flowers adidas Skateboarding

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While on the release tour for the adidas NORA skate shoe, Vasconcellos broke her ankle, taking her out of commission for a while. The injury, however, hasn’t stopped the 29-year-old skater and her Three Stripes family from (kick) pushing along with another colorway of their first collaborative shoe.
Inspired by both adidas’ tennis classics and her own mother’s closet from the 1990s, the NORA skate shoe debuted in three classic styles: “Core Black,” “Cloud White/Shadow Navy” and “Cloud White/Green.” The fourth take, which launched on November 1st, features a “Cloud White/Shadow Navy/Scarlet” color palette reminiscent of a recent adidas Gazelle collaboration from Gucci.
“Having my own shoe was so beyond my wildest dreams,” said Vasconcellos in an official press release for her inaugural NORA collection.
  • From the ’70s adidas Skateboarding

  • Two-tone goodness adidas

  • Colorful trimming adidas Skateboarding

  • The newest member adidas Skateboarding

The Steffi Graf and Nastase-informed design is infused with an “extended toe cap with with double-layer durability, providing cupsole quality with a vulc aesthetic.” Priced at $80 USD, the NORA skate shoe launched alongside three apparel items: the NORA Track Top, Track Slacks and Polo. All three products push adidas’ sustainability efforts forward as they utilize technical recycled polyester twill, as well as UNITEFIT for universal sizing. You can shop all of Nora Vasconcellos’ products right now here.