Dekline On The Rise – A new brand heading in a new direction.

Tod Swank is no stranger to upstart companies. Foundation, Pig, and Hollywood are all under the current Tum Yeto umbrella, as is his latest venture, Dekline.Swank was approached late last year by shoe designer August Benzien and Kevin Furtado, both previously of DuFFs footwear, with an idea for a new brand. Benzien and Furtado had a concept but little else. “We had a lot of powwows at my house,” Swank recalls, “sitting around the bar, trying to come up with a name. It was kinda cool because even without a brand name we could still develop the concept.”Together with Swank and Tum Yeto Product Manager Matt Barker, Benzien and Furtado created the new brand with a particular group of people in mind. Furtado says, “Now that skateboarding’s such a popular thing, there’re all kinds of groups of people, even within skateboarding, who lead different lifestyles. There’re a ton of people out there we don’t think are being shown something different.”

One element of the Dekline campaign is a lack of mass marketing. Swank explains, “It’s hard to find something you really like out there, because you’re getting all this stuff shoved down your throat.” Swank, Benzien, and Furtado tend to focus on designs that appeal to one particular group.

Dekline’s motives are simple-both in concept and aesthetic. “We are trying to keep the designs very simple,” Furtado says. “We always knew what designs we wanted to make, but we wanted to make them better-we thought no one was making them better at the time.”

And although the shoes may look simple, they still come equipped with the technology necessary for skateboarding. Benzien says, “They’ve got everything that skateboarders today, Furtado insists that Dekline isn’t so specific as to be pigeonholed: “It’s just a brand-we never want to call it ‘Dekline footwear’ or ‘Dekline clothing,’ it’s a brand-it’s what we want it to be.” need, and they perform the way skaters want a shoe to perform.” Benzien explains that the absence of flash is all part of what could be called Dekline’s antimarketing campaign: “The shoes have all the benefits, but they don’t necessarily have to be displayed on the shelf, in your face.”

Another advantage to the simple designs Dekline offers is their longevity. “We don’t want to have to keep chasing something,” explains Furtado. “We set these designs, and it took us a long time to get them there. We want to hold on to these designs for a long time, not just change every season.”

Despite catering to such a small niche

So Dekline isn’t just another skate-shoe company. It’s not shoe-specific-it’s not even skate-specific. Swank says, “It’s a lifestyle. That’s what we pictured it to be: a lifestyle. Not just in skateboarding, but in music, too.” Swank explains Delkine’s ideal are shoes that will appeal to not only a certain kind of skater but a certain kind of musician, too. “We just have so many friends who are musicians who appreciate skateboarding, too.”

Despite coming from Tum Yeto, one of skateboarding’s largest and most prominent companies, Dekline, like Foundation, Pig, and the others, is a relatively small operation-in fact, it’s Swank’s D.I.Y. ethic that has brought Tum Yeto such fortune. Furtado explains, “Skateboarders understand what we’re about, but for being a shoe company, we really are a garage-shoe company-everybody’s doing everything. It’s a group effort, for sure.”

Swank feels that Furtado’s observation is more a sign of the times: “I think that’s any new company, because everyone’s wearing multiple hats. You can make titles up, but it doesn’t encapsulate what each person is actually doing.”

Much like Swank, Furtado, Benzien, and Barker, Dekline’s team consists of skateboarders who each contribute something different-Patrick Melcher, Ben Gilley, Gareth Stehr, and Cyril Mountain. When asked if Dekline would offer any signature shoes, Furtado responds, “It’s something we could potentially work into, but right off the bat it would just be too obvious to draw a name on a shoe and say, ‘Here you go.'” Furtado explains that they would prefer to take their time designing pro-model shoes, “so that our guys actually get what they want out of a shoe.”

And while signature shoes are something that could be in the cards, it’s not their first priority. Swank explains, “We talked about not even having a team for a really long time, just to really work on building a really cool brand that people are psyched on. We’d rather have some meat behind the potatoes.”

Swank sums up the fledgling company’s approach by saying, “We’re not trying to please everybody out there, we just want to please this one group we feel is underrepresented.”