The Design Desk: Supra On The Skytop 4

Chad Muska at the VIP launch party for the Skytop 4.

Supra released its newest edition of the Skytop, the Skytop 4, just in time for holiday weekend sales frenzy, and to great demand; the shoe sold out on Black Friday after the first few hours on sale, according to retail reports gathered from the brand.

The design and development process behind the fourth generation of the shoe has been a long time coming, according to Supra’s Global Design Director Josh Brubaker and pro skater and artist Chad Muska, who has been extremely hands on with the Skytop since day one. The first release is a limited edition shoe, complete with unique colorways and a detachable collar, which sets the shoe apart from the next round set to be released in Spring.

We caught up with Muska, Brubaker, and Supra Founder Angel Cabada to hear more about the shoe that put the brand on the map, and a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the design process.

What went into the design and development of the Skytop 4?

Josh: Creating the IV was very organic for me and Chad. We both just knew what we wanted to do right away. The shoe is a little bit out there. The concept behind the Skytop IV is a mash up the history of the I, II, III. We want to make people uncomfortable with the Skytop IV design. Back when we did the original Skytop I, Supra had just started. There wasn’t really anywhere we couldn’t go. There were no expectations. It was all new.

What’s the concept behind the first few Skytop 4’s that hit stores last week?

Chad: The first two releases were on Black Friday – some retailers get both colors, and some will get more colors a little before Christmas. They are limited, small runs for the first release. We have this removable collar on the shoe itself that is a transforming capability for the shoe. It’s pretty cool. People who buy early in this first run get something special others aren’t going to get.

Angel: The two limited releases with the collars around them were Chad’s concept. I supported the idea. Anything that’s crazy and wild, I’ll always get behind. I’m not normal. I don’t want normal. I want designs people are going to go wow one way or another, love or hate. I want to blow people’s minds. And we’re going to keep doing that. If they aren’t talking about you, that’s when you’ve got a problem. We’ve got a lot more coming up.

 What new, innovative materials did you draw upon this time around?

Josh: I think materials change as you go. That is the whole deal behind Supra. It is all about exotic materials. When we first started, it was crocs, it was full grain, and no action leathers while the whole industry was doing nothing but actions and suedes. That was when the whole concept of Supra being ‘above all’ was born (the word supra in Latin literally means ‘above all’).

Where does your inspiration for the design come from?

Chad: Designing is just as as much a passion of mine as skateboarding is; the whole process that goes into it and how it all works. I’ve been designing shoes for a long time and it’s been a constant in my life for the last 15 years. I designed my first shoe in ’95 or ’96.

Where I’m coming from, I’m 100 percent involved in the creation of the product. Design comes from everything I see on a day-to-day basis and taking all things influenced by skateboarding and translating them into a shoe. Each edition of the Skytop is a progression from the last edition for sure. It represents innovative design in a skateable shoe. When you look at skate shoes, you tend to see there about three designs in the entire industry that are good. I think after all these year of seeing this I was forced to create something new and unique.

Supra has really been backing me personally with my ideas and visions,  and the direction I see the shoe is going in. It’s been really cool. I feel they have been very supportive of me with working with art a lot and creating sculptures. A lot of these sculptures are the driving force behind the footwear, too, and they all feed off each other. It’s been cool to produce my first book ever, too. It’s a thousand custom, hand-painted inserts inside a book— pretty crazy. I just finished that a few weeks ago.