As rush hour engulfs Londonâ€™s pavements, early on a Tuesday morning, the tide of humanity passes by a select group huddling in the rain, outside the Oxford Circus branch of Niketown. Straddling the fine between obsession and too much disposable income, these die hard fans have laughed off work, college and looking after their children for the day to get their hands on a pair of Nike SBâ€™s new, limited edition What The Dunk. The 8:30 a.m. opening time is no consequence to these folk. The WTDs are strictly collectorsâ€™ items; the splicing of 31 of Nike Dunk colorways in one pair of shoe.
Callum Nielsen was the first person in the UK to buy a pair. Nielsen had been camping outside the store since Friday evening. He was playing a dangerous game, considering the severity of British weather in October; Nielsen shrugs and says, â€œYou got to do what youâ€™ve got to do, I suppose.â€
Itâ€™s going swimmingly until 9:00 a.m.: 30 pairs of trainers sold as one of the guys working on the Nike ID studio drills through a pipe, meaning it starts raining inside and outside the store.
The launch of the What The Dunk coincides with the Nike skate teamâ€™s world tour to promote their film Nothing But The Truth. Veteran cameraman, Dan Wolfe, captures high hopes in Nothing But The Truthâ€™s trailer, amongst other things; bovine rectal examination, projectile vomiting, childbirth, and a near death experience involving Brian Anderson and a car.
Early afternoon finds the team, fresh from a signing at Niketown, doing press at a rooftop location in East London. The grey clouds have taken their leave and the city enjoys the last few hours of light before sunset. In the next few days, the teamâ€™s schedule will find them travelling all over the world. Theyâ€™ve already been to L.A., Portland, Shanghai, Moscow and Vancouver. London is the penultimate stop before the guys hit the New York. Dan Wolfe favors Barcelonaâ€™s cityscape for filming the team, Paul â€œP-Rodâ€ Rodriguez says, over a late lunch, that the growth of the skate scene the world over has impressed him. â€œThis kid, Johnny Tang, out there in China, he rides for Nike and heâ€™s super good. He took us around and showed us the spots and I think heâ€™s going to be doing big things,â€ Rodriguez says. â€œAnd in Spain, this is a guy whoâ€™s been around for a long time, but I feel like he should get more credit and be seen more, Daniel Lebron. Iâ€™ve seen him in actionâ€¦ amazing!â€
Rodriguez is aware of the aware of the weight of expectation on him. The 23-year-old, California native is the first member of the team to have his own signature shoe, making him the Michael Jordan of the skateboard game. â€œThose are some big shoes to fill,â€ he laughs. â€œItâ€™s flattering. It keeps me on my toes. It keeps me working hard, so Iâ€™m psyched!â€
The team has approximately 20 riders from varying backgrounds; vertical skater Lance Mountain, whose name is mentioned in the same breath as Tony Hawkâ€™s and Steve Caballeroâ€™s to the teenage Grant Taylor. Brian Anderson, 31, says â€œI think that itâ€™s really diverse and I think thatâ€™s the really cool thing about it. And there are only so many people who look good wearing the shoes, I think.â€ Anderson believes that a good team could be made even better. When asked which riders he would add to the merry band, in a perfect world, he mulls over the question for a while. â€œThatâ€™s hardâ€¦ Iâ€™ll say Ben Schroder.â€
The sound of urethane plastic wheels and wood on concrete reverberated around the South Bank into the early evening. At 8:00 p.m., the skaters adjourned to the Queen Elizabeth Hall, looking out over the River Thames for the premiere of Nothing But The Truth. The crowd cheered the through the screeningâ€™s entirety. In the end, coaches ferry the audience to a club where they party into the wee hours with Salazar and Chet Childress.
Rodriguez is optimistic on the effects that the attentions of Nike can bring to skating. When asked about the new opportunities Nikeâ€™s involvement in the sport will create, he thinks for a second before answering, â€œI hope it wonâ€™t just be due specifically to Nike, but I do think weâ€™re starting to get the wheel moving in a new direction.â€