category image

Tobias McIntosh On The Crenshaw Skate Club SB Dunk, Community, And Barack Obama Quotes

By Jovani Hernandez
Tobias “Tobey” McIntosh isn’t your average 20-year-old. In the last six years, the South Los Angeles-native founded Crenshaw Skate Club, designed an Air Jordan sneaker, and enrolled at Stanford University. McIntosh’s latest accolade is a Nike SB Dunk Low collaboration, which launches via crenshawskateclub.com and select skate shops on Saturday, August 5th.
A quick glance at the 20-year-old’s social media profiles (@tobeycsc on Instagram) demonstrates a humility, intelligence, and gratitude rare at any age, let alone a year removed from being a teenager. Wise beyond his age, McIntosh regularly speaks to high schoolers in his home city and keeps his DM’s open to pay the help he’s gotten from industry giants forward.
For the launch of his first sneaker project with Nike SB (he’s Nike SB’s youngest collaborator ever), we spoke with McIntosh over video call about the Crenshaw Skate Club Dunk, sneaker leakers, South LA, and community. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
  • CSC x SB Tim Hans

  • Brandon DeCoud Oliver Barton

  • CSC x SB Nike SB

Crenshaw Skate Club is relatively young but has accomplished a lot since 2017. How do you go from handing out stickers to strangers to working on a Nike SB Dunk in such a short period of time?
I’m big on building, you know? Passing out stickers helped me learn how to not be afraid to talk to people and just build organic relationships, to put my face out there. You know, I actually bumped into my first Nike contact while passing out stickers at the HUF store.
Were you conscious that people from these big name brands would frequent these shops or was it by complete chance?
I wasn’t looking out for people from brands to pass out stickers to, I just knew that there were a lot of people in the Fairfax and La Brea area who would be interested in something like a skateboard brand.
Once the connection was made, where did the confidence to follow through come from?
I would say it wasn’t out of confidence. I just had a passion for my brand and I wanted to share it with as many people as possible. Instead of being nervous to share Crenshaw Skate Club with people who I looked up to, I was excited to tell them about my brand and see what they thought, ask them for advice.
If they didn’t want to give me advice, worst case scenario would be that now they know about my brand. In the best case scenario, they’d be my mentor and I could have them in my corner. It was a win-win situation in my opinion.
For anybody starting a brand: Don’t be afraid to walk up to people and ask for their advice.
  • CSC x SB Nike SB

  • Groovy insoles Nike SB

  • Building blocks Nike SB

  • Skated Tim Hans

  • Skated Tim Hans

That’s how you connected with The Hundreds, right?
I was at a sushi place and a big thing for me when I was passing out stickers was looking at the shoes people were wearing. Someone had on the Undefeated Air Max 97’s, and I was like “Yo! Those things are dope. I have a brand coming out,” and I gave him a sticker. I didn’t know he was Ben Hundreds, but I got his number and he invited me to his office.
Switching gears, do you have the Crenshaw Skate Club SB Dunk near you?
Yeah, right here.
Could you walk us through the design?
I think the part that sticks out the most is the print that goes around the shoe–that print is inspired by the old version of the Crenshaw Square sign. You know, as the sign got older, it started to oxidize similar to the Statue of Liberty. just started off green, but now it’s green. The Crenshaw Square sign means a lot to me because growing up, I saw that sign everyday on the way home or when leaving home. Also, a place called Earle’s there is really important to me.
The “CSC” logo on one tongue is in our font, which was great to be able to do. I didn’t think I would be able to change that tongue logo, but the people at Nike SB were open to it. We also did it on the back tab.
A lot of people are wondering what this is on the back. It’s actually the outline of the Crenshaw Square sign. I wanted to hone in on that reference on the shoe without making it so obvious.
On the bottom, you have the building blocks graphic. You can always keep building up if you have the right people to help you and the right teams surrounding you. It’s also on the inside of left shoe’s tongue. When you flip the tongue labels up, it says, “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” That’s a Barack Obama quote.

  • CSC x SB apparel Tim Hans

  • Dashawn Jordan Oliver Barton

  • The crew Nike SB

  • Tobey Tim Hans

  • Building blocks Tim Hans

I’m a big fan of that quote.
It’s something that really resonates with the Crenshaw Skate Club because, you know, I started the brand because I saw a void in representation of inner city skaters in the skate industry. And instead of waiting for someone else, me and my friends wanted to represent ourselves.
Is it true the pair features a tear-away upper?
So it’s not a tear-away upper, but as you skate the shoe, the print fades and leaves this green color I really like. There are hidden messages that’ll appear as you skate the shoe. I’m excited for people to skate them and post a picture on Instagram like, “Yo! I found this cool detail.”
All the leather components on the shoe are cracked leather because I wanted to give a vintage feeling to the shoe. The inner-lining is suede because canvas or leather inside shoes can rub up against my ankle weird.
I think those are all the details. Oh! So if you take out the insole and look at the bottom of the Zoom Air bag, there’s Crenshaw’s zip code. It’s something that won’t be seen by the public when you wear the shoe, but I like that. I like including little things like that, Easter eggs.
Returning to that Obama quote, who are some other figures that, in your perspective, live out that quote as well?
One of my mentors who recently passed, Spanto, also lives up to that quote. We connected because we had a very similar mission – he represented Venice. He spoke for a whole community of people.
  • CSC x BxR Crenshaw Skate Club

  • Tobey Complex

  • Taking a break Nike SB

  • From Crenshaw, with love Tim Hans

Hearing you speak and seeing what Crenshaw Skate Club is all about, it’s obvious community comes before product. How did that become such a quintessential part of you and your brand?
I think it starts with my design process. I didn’t start Crenshaw Skate Club as a brand, I started it as something to represent my community. I only started selling shirts to use them as canvases to display my message to more people.
When CSC transitioned into more of a brand, it was hard for me to really be product-first, to design product without a story to it. Before I even touch Adobe Illustrator or a pen to start designing, I think of a what story could be told and what it could represent for my community.
Given how important storytelling is to this project, how do you feel about the official Nike SB account calling out leakers on Instagram back in May?
The Nike SB team has made me feel like family since I’ve worked with them; they’ve supported my and Crenshaw Skate Club’s vision one-hundred percent.
As far as the leakers and the early looks, I didn’t really pay much mind or let it throw me off track of what I had to do. I stayed focused on the work I needed to do to actually launch the shoe to launch, focusing on the proper rollout I wanted since the start. I can’t control leaks so I wanted to only focus on the things I could control and that’s me putting out the product, telling its story. The story was the most important part to me.
If you had to boil down Crenshaw to three points–be they restaurants, retail shops, monuments–what would they be?
Definitely Leimert Park. I would say it’s a bit of a hub for Black culture. Every Sunday they do this really dope festival where they have street vendors and a lot of Black-owned businesses. Every Juneteenth they have the Leimert Park Rising Festival there that’s really amazing.
I’d also say Balwin Village/Baldwin Hills because that’s where I grew up. There’s a lot of really cool like art and architecture out there–that’s where I get a lot of design inspiration from.
Harun Coffee was one of the first sports to carry CSC. Shoutout to Chase Infinite! He’s believed in me since day one and helped me connect with people in the industry when he didn’t have to.

  • Community event Crenshaw Skate Club

  • Crenshaw Skate Club Dunk Tim Hans

  • Crenshaw Skate Club Dunk Nike SB

What’s next for Crenshaw Skate Club?
To keep moving forward without forgetting the initial purpose of Crenshaw Skate Club. These past six years have allowed me to use CSC as a vehicle to achieve a lot of lifelong dreams. I don’t really have any monetary goals for the brand. All I can do is keep moving and keep putting our message out there.
I want to continue to grow CSC’s footprint in the community and hopefully do things that are more permanent and long-lasting, whether that’s building a skateboarding program or skate park in my neighborhood or even just skate obstacle that lives in an already-existing skate park. Those are things that are really important to the brand and what we’re looking into doing in the future.