As most of you know by now, Fallen has announced the end of the brand. As all of you know, i am SUPER opinionated when it comes to shoe brands so you knew this wasn't going to come and go without some kind of commentary here.
Jamie Thomas is one of my favorite skateboarders. Although i have always been a huge fan of his incredible skating, it's really his work ethic, drive, and conviction of ideals that is what has kept him in my short list of favorite skaters for so long. When you care that much (sometimes maybe too much), believe that strongly, and work that hard you may upset a few people along the way, but never trust someone who EVERYBODY likes because if you haven't pissed a few people off you don't really stand for anything. i have been fortunate enough to have met Jamie a few times, and every time he lived up to that character i had built up in my head. He is friendly, generous, and his passion is undeniable.
i have been wearing Fallen off and on since they began. i loved that they only went through skate shops. The brand's aesthetic and styling fit right in with my own, and i always appreciated that they usually had a vegan option in their lines (as i have not purchased shoes with suede or leather since 1998). When i decided to finally follow my dream of opening a skate shop i knew Fallen was one of the shoe brands i wanted on the wall the day we opened. i quickly found out how difficult some shoe companies can be to work with but not Fallen. They were with us since day one and i am happy to say that we have carried their shoes right 'til the end of their line. As a skateboarder who stands for something, i opened a shop that stands for something, and it's nice when i get to carry a brand that also stands for something.
From a shop owner's perspective, unfortunately, i could see this coming (as could many). In the 4 years we've been open i have seen at least one core skate shoe brand go out of business a year. Weekly i have some young skater tell me about how he's going to start his own skateboarding clothing line, etc while wearing a pair of Adidas. Almost daily someone in the shop will rave about some new deck company started by a skater while they are wearing Nike. You can't have it both ways - you can't want skateboarding to be OURS and then support athletic shoe companies. A core skate brand cannot match the price margins, they cannot match the marketing budgets, they cannot match the cheap manufacturing, R&D, or paychecks.
By refusing to carry the athletic shoe brands i realize that i am not making as much money as a shop as i could. i realize that it means i may not have the brand of shoe that some of the skaters coming in want and that each customer will have to make a decision whether to buy a core skate brand from me, their local skate shop, or go buy one of the other brands from some chain. i also realize that there is not a clear line dividing core brands from athletic brands as there are many companies falling in that grey area of life but there is NO question about which brands lie at either end of that spectrum and the athletic end is rapidly making the skate end disappear.
i didn't open a skate shop because i wanted to get rich, i opened a skate shop because i love skateboarding and i wanted to give back and support skateboarding for all that it has done for me. i want to support the local scene as much as i can. i want to support the art of skateboarding as much as i can. i want to support every skater that comes into my doors as much as i can. i want to support the brands that support skateboarding as much as i can.
When you buy a core brand from a skater owned shop you are actually helping skateboarding twice. Brands like Fallen were with us from day one while some other brands said we needed to be open for "X" amount of time before they would work with us. We never would have been able to make it to those pre-set dates if we didn't have brands like Fallen supporting us and standing with us. Our shop began and is around because brands like Fallen were in this with us from the moment we opened our doors and were a part of this crazy dream that all involved at any level of skateboarding are just trying to make work. All of us, just trying to help push skateboarding the way it helped push us.
Thank you Fallen, for everything you've done for me, our shop, and for skateboarding!