Today there is no doubt about the role that Andrew Reynolds played in shaping modern skateboarding. Everything from his aesthetic approach in the streets, right down to the soles of his feet—Reynolds is stylistically ahead of the curve. By taking an involved role in the design process, Reynolds actively helped change the shoe game as well.
His first shoe, the “Reynolds 1,” was released in 1998. Roughly coinciding with Birdhouse’s The End, the Reynolds 1 was virtually guaranteed to be influential. The End had an incredible impact—the most successful skate video at the time—and Reynolds’s shoe debut had it all: the looks, the attitude, and the tech details (complete with airbags). Reynolds came out swinging with a must-have shoe. When Baker2G came out two years later, it was like a shot of adrenaline. Baker was everything. If you were in the streets every day and you didn’t have a pair of Reynolds 1s, you were missing a pretty notable component of your Baker kit.
2002’s “Reynolds 2,” and Emerica’s This Is Skateboarding one year later, sealed the deal. Comfortable and durable, and with that padded tongue, The Reynolds 2 was a kinder, gentler cupsole—more flexible yet still providing some heel protection. A skater like Reynolds needed all of the cushion he could get and, psychologically, the average consumer was already connecting the dots: “If I get the Reynolds 2, then I can also jump down shit.” This was a case where the shoe really could sell itself without any additional marketing. Just watch Reynolds skate—the proof is in the pudding.
The “Reynolds 3” came out in 2007. This vulc model was lighter and slimmer than his past models, and with less emphasis on heel protection from big drops. Future Reynolds models (“Reynolds Lights” in 2008, “Reynolds Cruisers” in 2009, and “Reynolds Classics” in 2010) would be slimmed down, sleek models, and Reynolds would maintain an active role in shoe design.
Incidentally, around this time Emerica started staging their “Wild Ride” tours. These massive vagabond caravans of Emerica riders and friends traveled across America (even crossing the border on occasion), skating and hobnobbing with the locals, stressing community and togetherness. With Wild Ride, Emerica cemented its identity as a skate lifestyle movement. Everyone who is attracted to Emerica’s vibe shares a spirit of independence and openness, and Reynolds occupies an almost patriarchal position with the brand and its fans: Reynolds is just naturally cool; Emerica does cool things. Emerica and Reynolds created a movement that wasn’t just about jumping down stuff—it was about being cool to one another.
Emerica’s most recent iteration of Reynolds models (The “Reynolds Low,” and the “Reynolds Mid” in 2013) stressed the minutia of breathability, support, and lightweight qualities. These are the most advanced and versatile models (The Skateboard Mag even teamed up with Emerica for a collab edition). But a shoe can only be so breathable, and it can only be lightweight to a certain degree. The truly unique facets of a skate shoe are the little touches, the details that someone like Andrew Reynolds would find important. A tiny tweak here, an imperceptible adjustment there.
In the beginning, Reynolds needed a design that would absorb the impact. But the enduring impact came from his attention to detail.
The Reynolds 1, image courtesy of Skately.com.
The Reynolds 2, image courtesy of Skately.com
The Reynolds 3, image courtesy of Skately.com.
The Reynolds Lights, image courtesy of Skately.com.
The Reynolds Cruisers, image courtesy of Skately.com.
Emerica Andrew Reynolds Classics, image courtesy of Skately.com.
Emerica x The Skateboard Mag Reynolds Low Vulc.
The Reynolds Mid Vulc.