18 East Designer Antonio Ciongoli is also a skate shoe historian
One recent morning at his store in Manhattan’s Chinatown, Antonio Ciongoli, 18 East designer and amateur skateboarder, sat down to a pair of DC Rick Howard 1, his all-time favorite skate sneakers.
On some weekends, Ciongoli spends hours browsing eBay for former professional DC models like Howards, Rudy Johnsons and Rob Dyrdeks, buying only to wear them in front of a very small audience, skating around his home in Asbury Park. , NJ. The Howards, in particular, are his Holy Grail for several reasons. They exemplify the cutting edge DC aesthetic of the late ’90s – DC Shoe Co. being the primary brand that marked a break with the old school of skateboarding and ushered in a new technical and athletic-inspired era of design. of modern skate shoes. It doesn’t hurt that they’re popular with sicker skaters (Fred Gall, Spencer Fujimoto, Howard himself). Ciongoli owned several pairs when they were released in 1997, and remains captivated by the wavy uppers and icy soles. He sees a Jordan 1 in there. And loosely, a hiking shoe.
The Howard 1s are near-perfect specimens of his collection, but the midsoles disintegrate into EVA foam, making them functionally useless. They started to collapse the instant he put the shoes on. It didn’t really stop him from skateboarding. “There was a period, three or four years ago,” he explains, “when the shoes I was skating were all 15 years old.
The conversation ends up flowing far beyond the point where the store is supposed to open, as Ciongoli could be talking about skate shoes all day. Mostly vintage. Designers usually go crazy for vintage products, one of the constant inspirations in fashion. But most of them aren’t obsessed with the weird skate shoes that were sold in Zumiez. For Ciongoli, however, his obsession with when skate culture first infiltrated the mall fueled his efforts to run one of the hottest new menswear brands.
18 East’s clothing is full of references to this specific period of late ’90s skateboarding on the East Coast. Previously, Ciogoli designed Ralph Lauren’s Rugby line and was Creative Director of Italian couture brand Eidos. But his love of skateboarding has never really manifested in his work until now, decades later.
Ciongoli remembers everyone wearing DCs at LOVE Park in downtown Philly, which skater Josh Kalis destroyed in TransWorldthe “Sixth Sense” video. “Kalis wore the [DC] Lynx all the time, in a rare colourway that has never been released, and just skated Philly “- at this point Ciongoli is gesturing with his hands -” and was wearing raglan sweatshirts and a big fucking cargo pants. And the song hit … “
Ciongoli is not the only designer to take inspiration from skateboarding for inspiration from fashion. The influence has spread to the biggest fashion houses, with Gucci making a skateboard-themed watch collection in 2019, and Louis Vuitton now sponsoring skateboarders and making skateboard-style clothing and shoes under the creative direction from Virgil Abloh, who can be found on Instagram pushing a board inside LV’s Paris studio, ollieing on sofas.
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