Skateboarding Starts With éS Timeline

« Visit the éS site


The First Footsteps


éS releases The Accel.


1995 Year in Review:

éS Footwear officially launches to fill the need for a new type of skate shoe, a brand that pushes the limits of advanced footwear design and caters to the demands of the core, technical skateboarder.

Eric Koston, psyched on bikes.Eric Koston, psyched on bikes.

éS head Don Brown starts to work on building a team, as future members Eric Koston and Tom Penny rack up some serious magazine and video coverage. Although Koston continues to blaze a path into the limelight, Penny--at the height of his powers--notoriously disappears into the haze of the French countryside for a few years, which only serves to strengthen his legendary status.

The First éS Commercial 1995.

Eric Koston, lofty frontal over the hip.Eric Koston, lofty frontal over the hip.

Eric Koston, backside Smith.Bigger please!

TransWorld Skateboarding Good Stuff: Tom Penny, switch frontside flip.Good Stuff: Tom Penny.

Tom Penny mute grabs his way to freedom during the opening of the Santa Rosa park in 1995.Bigger please!

TransWorld Skateboarding Good Stuff: Tom Penny, switch boardslide.Bigger please!

The Release of the Accel, Sal 23 and SLB

From the moment of its birth, the clean, simple and functional Accel is destined to reign as the most popular éS shoe of all time--15 years and counting! Sal Barbier's first-ever pro model shoe, the Sal 23, is released to wide public acclaim. Masses of skaters and peds alike quickly take a shine to the shoe's refined, tasteful design and pure skateboarding function. éS and Sal follow it up with a regal mid-top called the SLB.

éS releases Sal Barbier's first pro model shoe, The Sal 23.éS releases Sal Barbier's first pro model shoe, The Sal 23.

I wanted a rubber piece on the side so it wouldn't rip up. I kind of liked that, because I don't always like wearing 'em when they're brand new. By the time most skate shoes break in, you have to get a new pair because they're all ripped up. I worked on the design of the whole shoe--the sole, the logo, everything--around 1994-1995...

- Sal Barbier

Read Sal's Entire Interview »

éS follows up the Sal with the SLB.éS follows up the Sal with the SLB.

1995 Headlines
  • O. J. Simpson murder trial.
  • Aum Shinrikyo religious cult releases sarin gas on Tokyo trains, killing 12 and injuring hundreds.
  • Bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City kills 168.
  • Actor Christopher Reeve is paralyzed
  • from the neck down after falling from his horse in a riding competition.
  • The Million Man March is held in Washington D.C.
1995 Ad archive
1995 éS Coverage
Looking back on 15 years of éS with Don Brown

Who decided to start the éS brand? Why? Working closely with Pierre Andre to build the etnies brand I always knew that there was a need for a break away brand to do something new. I had built up one of the best teams in the world for etnies and since we were the only brand that was made by skaters for skaters we had every top skater in the world knocking at the door wanting to be on etnies. Being skaters we always built etnies shoes based on what we would wear after skating but obviously with a functional skate platform.

We started to notice how Koston, Muska, Penny started chilling in more athletic styled shoes after a day of skating so that was where the éS direction came from. éS was definitely built around the team not the other way around and that’s still the way éS is built today. éS was created to be a more sophisticated, athletically inspired, innovative and focused on the street. I had a great time choosing the éS skaters that matched the style, personality and skateboarding progression that was needed to be on the best skateboard team ever created.

Who named éS? Alex Wise…he’s an English guy that had lived his whole life skating in France and came out to work for etnies in the USA. Alex was one of those prodigy type geniuses. Anything he does, he is amazing at is. His graphic design and understanding of design was a key.

Don Brown takes a siesta

Did the name come from the first and last letter of etnies? It came from the last two letters of etnies…the accent over the e (é) was there to show the brand’s more sophisticated, premium look and feel and to emphasise the 'S'

Who drew the éS Mainblock logo? That was Ako Jefferson…at least I think it was as he is one of identical twins so it may have been his brother Atiba! Nah, it was Ako for sure!

Who designed the Accel? What influenced the design? Pierre Andre designed the Accel. Based on clean lines and function the Accel is the top skate shoe of all time.

He had the style, finesse and personality that helped craft the essence of the team.

Who put the original éS team together? I put the team together being able to pick the best available at the time. It’s amazing looking back over 15 years later to see that each of the original éS team are still skating hard and still taking things to new levels…that’s what makes a true legend is to never give up progressing and sharing your passion for skateboarding.

Sal was the first pro shoe transitioning from etnies. He had the style, finesse and personality that helps crafted the essence of the team. Eric is a prodigy and can do anything he wants to. When you put Eric around other top riders the competitive spirit kicks in and he rises to a whole other level. This is what happened when he became part of the elite éS team. Tom was hard to explain how far ahead he was of everyone else in skateboarding. He turned up from the UK and made everyone look like dinosaurs. Tom is the most naturally gifted skateboard that has ever lived. Chad was going bigger and had more style on and off the board than anyone else. There’s few people that I have ever met that have the charisma that Chad has…he has a magnetic aura that makes him the most likeable skater! Ronnie was the tech wizard. Super stylish, flipperdy and sliding longer than everyone else all within a crazy line.

Paul Sharpe was the NorCal ripper that had pop like no other…super stylish and all around nice person. Those damn knees went on him early so we didn’t get to see to nearly as much of Paul as we would have liked to. Rick McCrank - After we discontinued Sheep shoes it was a natural progression for Rick to be on éS. An around ripper Rick would be first out and last in the van on any demo and would always leave the longest lasting impression Burnquist - his run winning in Vancouver, 1995 was so on another level that he had to be on the team.
TX – I saw him at the Prague contest killing it in style and technicality in a pair of screwed up Reef shoes...I had to have him on the team, so I asked Bob to ask him as didn’t speak any English back then. He case you didn’t guess! Although he rolls most of his time backwards his skating is always the most forward out there! Chet Thomas was also on the team for a fraction of a second…not many people know that!

éS will always make sure that having fun is the foundation of what skateboarding is about!

Ronnie Creager, Enjoy Skateboarding Ad

What did you look for in team riders back then? It seemed like a solid, consistent team. Progression, Personality, Pizzazz, Commitment and Integrity.

Please share a few memories that stand out in the early years of éS. There’s so many memories it’s hard to say…for me it’s looking back and seeing what we had created with éS. No one had done what we had with progressive skateboard footwear, or having a tight focused elite team of riders, or even creating éS Menikmati video which is one of the best skateboard video’s of all time….seeing kids around the world love the éS brand in it’s self is an amazing thing. Overall I feel what is best is the family that was created…no one had a team as tight as the éS team.

Which five éS shoes are your favorite of all time? Why?

  • SLB and SLB 97: Great stylish shoes for skating in.
  • Koston 1: The originals are always the best part.
  • Aura: First Skate shoe with Air technology.
  • Contour: Just a nice solid shoe that represented éS well.
  • Accel: The Brown colorway brings back Tom Penny memories.
  • Burnquist 1: This shoe had innovative side laces for vert function.

Which éS ad campaign was your favorite of all time? Why? Enjoy campaign. I had worked with Yogi who was overseeing the creative at the time. éS had reached a point where the riders had pushed skating to such another level that I wanted to make sure that skaters around the world still saw that skateboarding needs to be about fun first. In between all the death defying madness that was going on there was a lot of dorking around in between capturing these moments was a lot of fun.

In general, how does éS seem different now compared to 10 years ago? éS is still one of the top skate footwear brands in the world and always will be. It has great designs and innovation and has a committed team of skateboarders that are running the show in the office and on the streets. There’s so much great stuff to still be discovered to help riders perform better, with less injuries while looking stylish at the same time…éS is will always be on the forefront of this progression.

In which direction will éS go in the future? éS will always keep rolling with skateboarding making sure we are taking care of skateboarders needs on and off the board. éS will always be creating trends while everyone else is busy chasing trends. And one last thing éS will always make sure that having fun is the foundation of what skateboarding is about! Thanks to everyone who has contributed to making éS the top brand in skateboarding especially all the riders out there, past, present and future!

New shoes: 1995

éS kicks off with Sal Barbier's first pro model skate shoe, the Sal 23, in Spring. The Fall line adds his second pro model, the SLB (the first-ever mid-top with a neoprene sock liner), plus the Accel (the first-ever skate shoe with a kevlar ollie pad), the Aura (the first-ever skate shoe with an air system), the Aventi, the Contour (the first-ever skate shoe with hidden leather lace loops) and the Uno.

Sal Barbier Interview 2003

Sal Barbier Interview 2003

Well, the reason I would usually design shoes was because I would find things wrong with the other ones and I wanted to make 'em the way I thought they should be made...

When did you start skating?
I started at about the age of 16 or 17 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, probably around 1986 or '87. I had one of the Variflex decks and a Mike McGill board with the plane.
In Louisiana, were you just skating street?
Well, I started on vert. I'm sure you know that back then you rode ramps in the day and when it got too dark, you would ride street. Everyone quit [skating], so they would tear down all the ramps. I didn't have anything to ride but street. I started building jump ramps because I saw 'em on those Powell videos. We just started building shit all the time. There was one pool there, but it was a mission to get to it--you had to climb through this hotel that was closed down. It still had all the TVs in there, so there was all kinds of security. It was pretty crazy--it was on top of the hotel. You had to sneak in through the parking garage and go up an elevator shaft. You could only skate that once or twice a year, because you got in a lot of trouble if you got caught.
Sal Barbier Interview 2003 Before you moved to California, were you busting handrails and stuff in Louisiana?
Yeah, I'd say I was never impressed by anything in the magazines or videos until I saw that H-Street video, Shackle Me Not. When you live in a place like that [Louisiana] and you don't have anyone to skate with, you watch videos all the time. It's just kind of weird when you're watching them and you don't see any new tricks in there that you can't really do. So, it's kind of like, I got into rails pretty early. I tried it right after I saw that Steve Saiz photo. I think that was the first photo I saw of someone sliding down a rail. I tried it on this two-stair rail and it was so short that when you got on, you'd just be right off. I told this one kid that I had done it and he didn't believe me.
When I got back to town, he had picked out this rail. It was like seven stairs with this gnarly kink at the end, and it was pretty high, too. He couldn't believe it, so he got all these people together and he was like, "I'm going to take you to a rail when you get back." So, he brought me to that thing and that was probably the first real one I did. It was pretty gnarly. I broke my rib on it, so I got back up and I did it again. I would just do it every day. It was pretty scary, but I didn't want it to be something that I wouldn't be able to do consistently. After I did it, I couldn't believe I did, so I thought I was going to lose it. Every day, I'd go back there just to do it so I wouldn't be scared of it.
Sal Barbier Interview 2003 How did you move to California?
That was probably in 1990, I just snuck out here. I told my mom I was going to visit a friend in California, and there was no friend.
Did you help much in the design of your first éS shoe, the Sal 23?
Yes, that's what I think was so legit about it--I did design it. I wanted a rubber piece on the side so it wouldn't rip up. I kind of liked that, because I don't always like wearing 'em when they're brand new. By the time most skate shoes break in, you have to get a new pair because they're all ripped up. I worked on the design of the whole shoe--the sole, the logo, everything--around 1994-1995. I'm not even sure.
Sal Barbier Interview 2003 What was the inspiration for the Sal 23?
Well, the reason I would usually design shoes was because I would find things wrong with the other ones and I wanted to make 'em the way I thought they should be made, you know? I was a pretty stylish guy, so I'd be wearing some clothes, and I liked everything but my shoes and I would just need to correct them. It would drive me crazy. The only thing I'd think about was, "If this was that way and if this was in that color," so, it's like I was always into really designing them performance-wise and for looks, too.
Did you come into éS and draw shoe designs with those guys?
Well, I would draw it at home. I would cut up other shoes and draw on shoes and make markings of where I wanted panels and things to be. Then I would go back and work with Pierre André and Don Brown.
How did the Sal 23 name come about?
I was over at St. Aloysius, where all the greats come from. That's usually where you play before you go on to Louisiana State University. That's where Shaq played. I had a bad grade on my report card, so my mom made me quit playing basketball. I'm convinced I would have had that number 23 on my shoe in basketball before Michael Jordan, but, you know, he got to play and I didn't, so we'll let him have it.
Sal Barbier Interview 2003 Who all was riding the Sal 23 when it came out?
Mike Carroll and a lot of my friends were wearing it back then, so, I think almost everyone had 'em. It was cool to open up the magazine and see a lot of people riding the Sal 23. Maybe some were wearing it because they respected my name or they like the way it skated or the way it was designed. It kind of made me happy to have my work be appreciated for the right reasons.
Do you remember how long the Sal 23 shoe was out?
Probably like two-and-a-half-years, I think.
Did it sell pretty good?
Yeah, it was really strong. When I'd go places, I'd see a lot of girls with 'em, and stuff. It seemed like everyone had some at one point, which was cool. When they weren't out anymore, a lot of people would always call and write here and ask me if they knew where they could find a pair of them or if they were going to make 'em again. It was kind of cool to really design something, to work hard on something, and have people understand it and appreciate it for what it is, rather than just putting my name on it and trying to get some money. It wasn't about that. It was more like, if there would have been shoes there that I liked, I would have never tried to do what I did.
Sal Barbier Interview 2003 What have you been up to the past few years? Do you have a family?
No, I'm single. I was always into design, so I've had several companies where that's what I've done. I've played the role of kind of managing the team and hand-picking the people I want on it, and I also have a lot of say in the direction. But mainly what I do is I design for things like Elwood. I do all the clothing line there. I did a clothing line at Aesthetics, as well. I work on a lot of other fashion-related projects with my friends that are in different fields than skateboarding. So, basically what I do now is design.
Sal Barbier Interview 2003 Do you still skate as much as you did back in the '90s?
Well, back then that's the only thing I did. Now, I do it a good amount, but I'm more into the stuff that I didn't get to ride as much back then--a lot of pools, bowls and ramps. I kind of like that more than sittin' in front of a bench all day and waxing it up, you know?

Words by GSD / Special thanks to Chrome Ball Incident for magazine scans.