My love affair with Stefan Janoski shoes
They might fall apart if you tried to skate in them, but they’re perfect
I’ve owned more pairs of Janoskis than I have owned any other shoes.
I have had several black pairs, one brightly-coloured, and a creamy brown pair which looked (and felt) like a worn teddy bear. I’ve flirted with Adidas and New Balance, but I always go back to my old faithful, Janoskis. I’ve worn them at work, university, good festivals and bad festivals. They’ve been there when I haven’t had anything else to wear, and when I’ve carefully planned them for a particular outfit.
Stefan Janoski is a Californian pro-skateboarder and a man with whom we identify almost exclusively as a result of the shoe that bears his name. It is not unlike the basketball player Chuck Taylor, who we know best because of his association with Converse, or the tennis player Fred Perry who is now recognised for polo shirts and pristine white trainers. Perhaps an Adidas Yeezy will be the definitive way we remember Kanye West. That, or the tweets.
Every pair has a tag, reading “For Daily Use”. And it’s true – the shoes have transitioned from a niche, skateboarding swag to everyday classic. Casual shoes are the new normal: men don’t have to wear conservative black loafers or brogues to work, and women aren’t restricted by heels. Instead, everyone can throw on something comfortable, and androgynous – like Janoskis with a Max heel or some laidback Vans.
Nike don’t give out their sales figures, but if the number of matching shoes in friendship groups, and recommendations from mate-to-mate, or the number of Janoski buy and sell groups is anything to go by, we’re falling in love with them.
Last year, it was rumoured that Janoski had sold his name to Nike for $4million (£2.8million) – a ridiculous figure that would have marked one of the largest shoe contracts in skateboarding history. Janoski called this suggestion “dumb”.
“My name is different, and hard to say,” Janoski told Ride last year. “Growing up, all of my teachers mispronounced my name. And almost everyone who buys and wears my shoe misspells and cannot pronounce my name when it is written on their shoes.” He added: “Dumb rumour! I wish there was a better one about me.”
Indeed, there are people who wear the shoes who have never even picked up a skateboard, let alone seen a Nike SB promo video, and the company was derided when it started investing heavily in the sport. Skate mag Jenkem called Nike’s influence the start of a new corporate era for skateboarding and purists rallied to the cause.
But Janoskis aren’t really about skating, they never were. Part of it, is the versatility of the design: some versions really worked – like the mid-top cut and the Nike Free sole. It makes the skate shoe feel like a running shoe – they’re the pair I’ve worn nearly to death. Some, like the velcro version, made them feel very nursery school. Now, the design team is trialling slip-ons, probably in a cynical move to make fans of Vans make the jump.
The custom shoes and new editions will always be special, but it’s the simple, iconic Janoskis which will stick out as the new Jordans for our time. Even if they’re battered and the suede is ripped.