Article by Mo
Louis Vuitton have finally released their new skate shoe in collaboration with Lucien Clarke. The long anticipated shoe is currently retailing for £890 with out of stock sizes reselling for well over £2000 on Stock X. It begs the question; which skater in their right mind would skate in £890 shoes? Who the f*ck would buy shoes to skate in with such a hefty price tag? You certainly don't need to shred like JAWS in order to damage your shoes in just 48 hours and that's a well established fact!
I've always been passionate about fashion and have been somewhat involved in the industry for at least 15 years now. This is why I felt qualified to speak on this subject. Initially, some skateboard enthusiasts were happy that Virgil Abloh (creative director at LV) appeared to be opening the doors for LV to begin a new era of offering sponsorship deals to skateboarders and specifically catering for the skateboarding community. When I raised my concerns in the beginning, it was because I knew very well that LV would not be retailing this shoe for under £500 at the very least. One must understand that LV are one of the very few luxury brands that have never even put their products on sale because it takes away from the notion that this is an ultra luxury brand, with a loyal customer base that are more than willing to pay the premium. Therefore when voices from our community were anticipating the shoe to retail at £100 - £150 (which is still pricey for a skate shoe might I add), I knew there was not a hope in hell and that this was simply wishful thinking.
Initial images marketed the shoe with Lucien's name
Upon release, Lucien's name is replaced with 'Louis Vuitton'
My issue with the shoe from the outset wasn't only that I knew very well that LV had no intention of making this an affordable skate shoe, but I also started to sense that LV were being "culture vultures" as our Messiah Steezus quite rightly put it. We were given the impression that this was part of a deal with a professional skateboarder whose name would be applied to the actual shoe itself. This is exactly how the shoe was being marketed through various social media channels, fashion magazines and even on Thrasher. Yet upon actual release, LV are selling the shoe replacing Lucien's name with their own. Why? Because this is exactly what their customers would want! Let's face it, nobody would pay that sort of money for a branded shoe to have the name of a person unknown to the masses, replace the name that symbolizes ultimate luxury.
Supreme, Stussy, HUF and Palace are a handful of a few brands that have become very popular in modern days. These brands have a strong connection with skateboarding, long before it was deemed "cool". After endless high-profile celebrities were spotted in; Palace, Thrasher and Supreme clothing, sales shot up many fold. Websites would often crash due to the spontaneous high volume of visitors. Skateboarding and skate brands started quickly becoming the "thing" and every brand now seems to suddenly want a piece of the pie. Personally, I do not see an issue with a business wanting to tap into a market and make a profit. James Jebbia (founder of Supreme), is a perfect example of this. He was passionate about streetwear and skateboarding even though he was never a skateboarder - he spotted a gap in the market and gave back on many levels through generous sponsorship deals with skateboarders and events. He also housed many skateboarders who had run into financial difficulties - having nowhere to stay and not a penny to their name. I do however have a major issue with companies that have vast amounts of capital behind them, seeking to deliberately hoodwink the masses into believing they are doing something they in actual fact have absolutely no intention of doing.
LVMH (the owners of Louis Vuitton), spent close to €4.9 billion last year alone on marketing. This is what pushes the brand to a level where it is instantly recognised by the masses and immediately associated with ultra high-end luxury fashion. With an annual advertising budget exceeding the GDP of some entire nations, it should come as no surprise that it was easy for LV to tap into this market. Thankfully though, most that are passionate about skateboarding understand what supporting genuine skateboarders is all about and did not buy into this attempt by LV. The likes of; Nike, Adidas and Red Bull are of course not skater owned and some from our community may have their concerns about these brands. However, the aforementioned companies have undoubtedly contributed to skateboarding in an incalculable manner which LV have no interest in doing.
Personally, I do not have an opinion on Virgil Abloh himself as I don't know enough about him in order to form an opinion. Some were calling Virgil out as a profit driven poser that does not even skate, but I would have to disagree with that sentiment. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that the dude does skate or at least, used to. You can skate and be passionate about skateboarding whilst sucking badly at it too (like myself and my homie Misha).
Ultimately, Virgil's job is to overlook the design and innovation element of the brand and is not on the board of directors at LV. Therefore, Virgil would not have the final say on anything relating to profit and sales. Whatever Virgil's intentions were when creating this shoe, I knew it is not in LV's interest to put skateboarding and our community first. LV must return a healthy profit and meet the expectations of their shareholders at LVMH and that will always be their major concern, not skateboarding or skateboarders.