Skate shoes or skateboard shoes are a type of footwear specifically designed and manufactured for use in skateboarding. While numerous non-skaters choose to wear skate shoes as they are popular in fashion, the design of the skate shoe includes many features designed especially for use in skateboarding, including a vulcanized rubber or polyurethane sole with minimal tread pattern or no pattern, a composition leather or suede upper, and reinforced stitching to extend the life of the upper material. A low, padded tongue is often included for comfort. The most important aspect of skate shoes is that they have flat soles which allow the skater to have better board control.
Skateboarding was originally denoted "sidewalk surfing" and early skaters emulated surfing style and performed barefoot. By the mid 1960s, competitors in skateboarding exhibitions wore Keds and Chuck Taylor All-Stars, which had flat rubber soles that provided traction before griptape was common. Plimsoll-style boat shoes manufactured by the Randolph Rubber Company and Vans were worn by skateboarders during the 1970s as the sport became more widespread.
As skateboarding focused more on tricks in the 1980s, durability in footwear became important. High-impact tricks resulted in the increased popularity of higher-cut shoes, and Vans, Vision Street Wear, and Etnies introduced high-cut models by the end of the decade. A popular shoe at the time was the Air Jordan 1, which was affordable and provided grip and protection.
Skate shoe companies have integrated a number of special features into their shoes. These innovations have various functions, including preventing "heel bruises" (damage to the heel area of the foot caused by harsh landings from high distances), enhancement of "skateboard feel" through increased flexibility, and increased grip traction conceptually allowing the user to gain a reliable way of sensing the variety of impacts that the skateboard may encounter which in turn theoretically should lead to more predictable handling of the board while in motion.
These include but are not limited to:
Many features of a skate shoe are designed to increase its durability. Skate shoes are subjected to the abrasiveness of a skateboard's grip tape on a regular basis when used for skateboarding. This is why skaters tend to go through shoes quickly. Super suede, action leather, and plastic underlying the toe cap help to extend the life of a skate shoe. Lace loops and protectors are designed to prevent laces from ripping by shielding the most common areas that come into contact with grip tape.
Other common features include triple stitching with thicker treads to prevent ripping, more width so that there is more contact with the board with thicker tongues and sides to compensate, and deep sole patterns for grip.