Nike SB Janoski Flyleather Remastered: In Conversation With Stefan Janoski
Prior to its official release, I had the opportunity to talk with California based pro skateboarder Stefan Janoski about the Nike SB Janoski Flyleather Remastered - the world's first recycled skateboarding shoe. As someone who is well known for his creativity and uncompromising vision for footwear with his name on it, it was great to hear from Janoski himself about his thoughts on this next stage of his signature model and how the redesign came to life. You can read the full interview below or over on the Flatspot blog - for more information on the shoe itself, check out this feature that we also put together.
Responsible for the design of Nike SB’s most successful skate shoe model to date, Stefan Janoski is a man of many talents with a curious and humble character that has carried him from pro status, to designer and now freelance creative whilst still being one of the most respected riders in the industry. Since the first inception of the Nike SB Stefan Janoski footwear design in 2009, the streamlined aesthetic immediately changed the future of the industry but was not immediately warmed to as an usual competitor against commonly bulky ‘90s inspired models of the time. However, staying true to his original vision, it was Stefan’s sharp eye for design and determination to recreate skate footwear with as little material between the rider and board as possible that has made his signature model so successful.
Set to change the game entirely, 2020 sees an innovative new take through the use of Flyleather, a new super material made with at least 50% recycled natural leather fibre which is set to be as impactful as Nike’s Flyknit technology. With a vision to evolve leather into the performance material it was once considered to be before engineered mesh and synthetic variations were created, Nike set out to preserve the original appeal of the look, feel and even smell of leather whilst reducing the environmental impact and waste that the leather industry is notorious for creating. Having achieved this during a time of momentous global change which coincides with greater demands for greater sustainable practices from the world’s leading brands, the arrival of the Nike SB Janoski FL Remastered could not be more appropriate and demonstrates Nike’s commitments to improving their own design processes using their infamous ability to think ahead of time.
Accompanying the official release of the new Janoski model, we caught up with the man himself to learn more of how the sustainable spin has impacted the leading design and his thoughts on the global movement into more considered production methods.
Flatspot: Hi Stefan, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. How are you doing?
Janoski: I am doing fabulous, thanks for asking.
Flatspot: We’re glad to hear it! Let’s go straight in - what is the story behind the Flyleather being introduced to the Stefan Janoski model? Did the design team approach you or was a more sustainable edition something you wanted to pursue following the 10th anniversary of the design last year?
Janoski: I have been talking with the design team at Nike about doing a shoe using more sustainable and recycled materials for years. So when the design team approached me about Flyleather I was very excited to be a part of it.
Flatspot: Are there any special details or notes on the shoe design that aren’t visible to the untrained eye?
Janoski: There are some details you might not notice at first; the sole includes recycled ground up rubber, the Swoosh is embroidered with very minimal string and the shoe is extremely light weight.
One thing you can’t see is the special infusion of positive energy that creates special powers in your body, producing a miraculous feeling of happiness and contentment.
Flatspot: We knew there was something extra special about them, you can really feel that positive energy... Had you worn any Flyleather styles prior to the first prototypes of the Zoom Janoski FL? We’ve heard you hold onto prototypes when you’re really into them - how has your experience been this time around?
Janoski: I have not worked with other Flyleather designs other than my shoe but I have tried numerous samples of Flyleather Janoski, and I think they’re great! They are lighter, skate really well, last a long time, and have a stylish look. And I’m pretty sure I did not give the samples back, oops...
Flatspot: Sustainability is a pretty hot topic nowadays that has gained real momentum over the last couple of years. What changes have you found yourself making and is it an area you’ve considered within design and your own lifestyle prior to the movements popularity?
Janoski: It should be a hot topic! I really hope it continues to gain momentum until it is just a basic part of our human experience to live in a conscious harmonious relationship with our surroundings. I grew up very environmentally conscious with my parents both being very into environmental protection before I was born. I have always recycled, not littered, loved animals, respected nature. I try to not use single use plastics, I drive an electric car and my diet is completely vegan.
Definitely when considering design, I’m encouraging ecological and sustainable products, being thoughtful about who makes them and the materials they are made from. I think it is a very good sign that large companies like Nike are interested in making positive changes that will benefit the future.
Flatspot: Absolutely, it is imperative for brands to start making the most towards great sustainability and Nike have shown that it is possible on a really large scale. There have been numerous variations on the Nike SB Janoski since its inception back in 2009. Do you have any desires to create an alternative Janoski signature model that introduces a brand new shape and look, or are you still pretty content on what is on offer through the Janoski Remastered?
Janoski: The original design is very flexible to iterations and I still don’t think we’ve thought of them all... as far as a totally new design I have lots of ideas and desires, so it is definitely a possibility.
Flatspot: We’re always eager to see what you think of next and really enjoyed seeing variations on the Janoski Remastered last year including the Violent Femmes collaboration - what has been your favourite collaborative project to date?
Janoski: The Violent Femmes project was so much fun! I loved meeting them, getting to know them, designing the shoe, singing in the studio, and singing with them live at concerts which was one of my favourite experiences! BAM!
Flatspot: It goes without saying that 2020 has been a wild ride and it isn’t over yet! We hope you’ve been keeping well and safe in California. Whilst the last eight months have been fairly chaotic there is a strong underlying sense of positive change - what are your hopes moving forward personally and for the world?
Janoski: This is a very crazy time, things are coming to a head. I am optimistic and hopeful for the future, I think the youth and the next upcoming generations are not going to go along with the bullshit that is foisted on them at birth. The youth! The new are smarter, more creative, more inclusive!
The youth - it is your world! Don’t let these old greedy assholes ruin it for money! Our institutions are outdated failing systems based on omnipresent bigotry.
A belief in a system is a blindfold. Our traditions are afflictions, people are brainwashed robots sentimental for the prejudices of the past. Everyone dies, and we need to stop pretending that we don’t. Must each generation be born into the problems of their parents?
Think for yourself! Learn to research, don’t just believe, don’t just follow along. Don’t live other people’s opinions, other people’s ideas.
THINK FOR YOURSELF
Flatspot: Agreed. It all feels quite rocky at the moment but positive change is coming and you can see it working its way through the generations. It needs to happen and it is really amazing to witness. On reflection as a multiskilled creative with skate, art and music projects on the go, who do you look to for inspiration? What are your thoughts on the current digital movement as opposed to more traditional methods of hand craftsmanship?
Janoski: Thank you. For inspiration I use everything; words, people, books, movies… What I use the most for inspiration is introspection and imagination. I love all types of creativity. There are many ways to get an idea across, and digital can be a great medium. I like all types of methods. Techniques are relative to the person, creations can be incredibly crafted and still suck, and vice versa.
Flatspot: It really shows in the Janoski models you love and scope for creativity and it always adds that edge when you can tell the skater has had their input and personality translate into the design. We really appreciate your insight and thank you for your time Stefan. We are really eager to see the reaction of the Flyleather Janoski project and what you and the team think of next. Stay safe, catch you soon!