DC explores the archives
The DC Versatile is a brand new shoe by DC Shoes that marries both the legacy design DNA of the 1990s and the modern footwear technologies available today. In this post, we take a closer look at the brand’s new flagship skate shoe.
Over the past few years, DC has found itself looking back at the archives, exploring previous models of shoes and revitalising them for the modern market. They have received great feedback.
The DC Lynx is a great example of this, DC released a revamped version of the original and then also released the equally as popular Lynx Zero, a slimmed-down version of the original with great success. So it is no surprise that they have stuck to this model and re-released the Versatile, a popular shoe in the mid-2000s. As with a lot of shoes from this era the more technology you could cram into the shoe, the better. This usually resulted in a bulkier shoe, and this is exactly what a lot of people are after currently. The bulk is back, and DC are more than happy to play ball.
DC shoe design technology
The newest shoe DC has brought back from the vault is the Versatile, one of the most tech-filled shoes DC released in the 2000s. We have six colourways in stock currently, four very nice, regular colourways and two special edition Ken Block colourways. Before I go into the colourways themselves, I will first look at some of the key pieces of technology placed within these shoes.
Starting off with the most visible aspect of the Versatile’s high-tech features would be the 180° heel ‘airbags’. These airbags are described as ‘Sport-Tuned Suspension’ in a video released by DC earlier in the year for the build-up of the release of the shoe. As these shoes are intertwined with the Hoonigan legend that is Ken Block, that is an apt take on what these airbags do, they absorb and cushion large amounts of impact, similar to the suspension used in his rally cars. Airbags in shoes were a lot more prevalent in the 2000s as the technology we see in insoles today just wasn’t there. This isn’t to say that the airbag is redundant, it holds a very special place within the aesthetic of shoes, still to this day. A lot of shoes outside of skating use this technology and it is incredibly popular. Additionally, there is a solid argument to be made for using a modern after-market insole within a shoe such as the Versatile to increase comfort and protection even more so. This shoe has been updated for the modern market, and aspects such as the material used and how the shoe itself is constructed have been updated, but you cannot have a Versatile without an airbag due to the importance of the aesthetic of the shoe. These throwback shoes are largely popular due to nostalgia for an aesthetic, and the airbag is an integral part of that.
Another notable feature of the Versatile is the moulded TPR heel counter, placed directly at the rear of the shoe. TPR stands for Thermoplastic Rubber and is effectively a form of synthetic rubber that holds many characteristics suited for skate shoe silhouettes. It’s light, weather resistant, generally very strong, has great abrasion resistance and holds its shape amazingly well. All of these features are great for a skate shoe, if used correctly. This is exactly how it has been utilised on the Versatile. As it is placed on the rear of the shoe, it gives your heel an additional layer of support and protection. It is a solid panel of the shoe, placed deliberately where no flex is required. Due to this, it adds a supportive backing to your foot, helping reduce ankle rolls, shark bites and general protection to one of the most delicate parts of the foot. It also maintains the shape of the shoe, keeping it from feeling soggy. Not only does the heel counter protect you, it elongates the lifespan of the shoe also.
As well as these two key pieces of technology, there have been some subtle updates to the shoe as previously mentioned. Stronger, high-quality material such as leather and suede used for the construction of the shoe is a huge update, which alone gives the shoe a rise in durability. As well as the durability improving, the environmental cost of the production of the shoe has also been considered. The insole of the shoe is made with DC’s IMPACT-ALG insole technology, which basically means the insole is made from sustainable algae blooms. This is of course something that just wasn’t possible for skate companies to achieve in the 2000s, yet DC is now using this insole technology in most of their shoes now, which is great news.
A wide range of colours
Colourway-wise, as previously mentioned we have four standard colourways ranging from a subtle all-black colourway which would work great for someone that wants to just chuck on with any outfit and get going all the way over to the much flashier Black/White/Athletic Red colourway, which even flaunts faux carbon fibre panelling. Again, perhaps alluding to the performance car theme that seems to be quietly revving its engine behind the marketing of the shoe. The other two colourways we have are White/Royal/White and White/Black/Blue which are both of a more classic skate shoe colourway. Great colourways with nice detail hits that would look great both on and off the board.
This takes us to the two Ken Block colourways. Not only is Ken Block the face of the Hoonigan crew, but he is also the co-founder and ambassador for DC, so it was only a matter of time until he had his very own colourways. Both of these are inspired by previous cars he has ripped around the world in, with the Black/Black/Green model inspired by the ‘Hoonicorn’ Mustang you may have seen him smashing around London in on Top Gear. The car had tonal grey and black paint all over it, as well as bright green details smartly placed around the body. These key aspects of the cars paint have been transitioned over the Versatile in Black/Black/Green, as well as his famous number 43 positioned on both the tongue and rear of the shoe. This results in a show that looks ready for the track, park or streets… Just like the Hoonicorn.
The second colourway we have is the Black/White/Orange which is inspired by the Fiesta that was used in a lot of Block’s early Hoonigan videos. The Fiesta featured a paint job that appears to show a white Fiesta with black paint chucked over the top of the car, leaving a dripping effect down the sides, I imagine it is a wrap, but the illusion still works fine. This again has been transitioned over to Block’s pro-colourway white the white leather shoe seemingly dripping black paint from the top of it.
These two colourways are incredibly special for a couple of reasons. Ken Block has been hugely important for DC, since its inception and after its sale to Quiksilver in 2004. Being a key figurehead in the brand’s direction and authenticity it only seems right for him to get his own collection with DC. Celebrating both his achievements outside of DC and within DC at the same time. Real recognise real.