Maybe itâ€™s the Etnies founder Pierre-Andreâ€™s French background and couture upbringing that has given them the creative ability to stay ahead of the game, or maybe itâ€™s just because heâ€™s a sick rider. Either way, Etnies has become a name synonymous to skate for the skate generation of the early â€˜90s onwards.
These days, the good people at SoleTech (Etnies California home base) are working on replenishing the Earthâ€™s environment with the SEED project as well as taking on more collaboration than you can imagine, most recently with world famous graffiti artist Neckface and equally famed street wear OG, Alyasha Owerka-Moore
â€œThe skaters have to have love, they have to have passion. Have the right attitude. Live for skating and just know that theyâ€™re going to grow with us and its going to be like a family thingâ€¦â€
Format: Where did Etnies come from?
Etnies: It was launched in 1986 in California by the French pro freestyle skater, Pierre AndrÃ© Senizergues. Etnies is kind of a French word, meaning something like togetherness or joint effort.
Format: What is Soletech?
Etnies: Soletech is the mother ship to Etnies, Es, Emerica, Altamont and ThirtyTwo. Itâ€™s the hub.
Format: So there are a number of labels under the Soletech umbrella. How are they all distinguished?
Etnies: Etnies is the core all around brand lifestyle brand; surf, skate, snow, BMX. And then Es is more for the urban kid. Emerica is more for the super-skateboarder, and thatâ€™s all that theyâ€™re living for. Every one of our companies has a different element. Altamont is a higher-end skateboard line, for the core skate-boarder but with more style. 32 is our snowboard, boots and apparel label. Our brands are all separate but weâ€™re all one family over all.
Format: Soletech does a lot of collaborations. Can you tell us about some of your recent ones?
Etnies: We just came out with one with Shut skateboards, they started in â€™86 in New York. The influence for Pierre-Andre back in France because, Jamie Henderson, one of the original shut riders was off and Pierre was a freestyler and Jeremy was a freestyler, NYC style. He went over there and did different tricks and Pierre was all amazed by what he was doing. Once that came on board Etnies was hired to do all the PR, you know, collaborations with people. And one of them was with Jeremy. And then Shut actually made a board with a story behind it about the influence of Jeremy Henderson and meeting him.
Right now weâ€™re doing another collaboration with Verte. And thatâ€™s with the Rozzo Brothers. Theyâ€™re amazing guys, amazing boarders that just started this t-shirt company and it was just a good thing to do with them because thatâ€™s the influence in New York right now. Also now, weâ€™re trying to work with Bijules, whoâ€™s a jewelry designer. So thatâ€™s our next future project. Sheâ€™s a really good influencer. We also just did collaboration with Altamont with Alyasha Owerka-Moore from Fibreops heâ€™s also done American Dream and Alphanumeric. It turned out really well. The party was amazing.
Format: Who are some of your favorites?
Etnies: I like John1 a lot, heâ€™s a graffiti artist from New York, born and raised but he now lives in Paris. He gets a big thumbs up. We also did a great collaboration with Stereo, thatâ€™s Jason Lee and Chris Pastras. I liked the one we did with Chester Bennington from Linkin Park. So weâ€™re always looking for great influencers that fit the brand and that we can push. Everything is all about passion when you come down to it. I also really liked the Es collab we did with Don Juan. It had a real street feel to it.
Format: What can you tell me about the Etnies fashion direction?
Etnies: We just go with the flow with whatâ€™s going on in the streets. We follow and make trends, making sure that everyone is satisfied when they see us, making sure that people will wear the shoes and feel satisfied, and that they can skate in it. But we give everyone choices, from the skateboarder to the guy who just wants to style out.
Format: How many skaters are on your team? How do you find the right guys?
Etnies: We have maybe eight pros and then the Am squad and then we have a program called the Farm team, which is a bit of a mix.
The skaters have to have love, they have to have passion. Have the right attitude. Live for skating and just know that theyâ€™re going to grow with us and its going to be like a family thing where we all work together and make sure that it all turns out the way we both want it to be. After all, skating is fun, but it has to work out where we have balance to build-up our company with the skateboarder and skateboarder building with our team.
Format: Do you feel strong brand competition?
Etnies: There is. You know, thereâ€™s DC, I-Path, Adidas, Nike of course. Weâ€™re all in the same family, we know what weâ€™re about and thatâ€™s it. Weâ€™re not against anyone, we just do it all for the love. Itâ€™s not like, lets duke it out and see who can make this much millions.
Format: So what do you do to keep on top of the game?
Etnies: We just keep on being a natural part of skateboarding. Just keep the passion.
Format: A lot of companies are going green these days. Is Etnies doing something similar?
Etnies: Yeah! We have the Etnies SEED Project, which Pierre started. Itâ€™s a collection of apparel and footwear made of sustainable and recycled materials that reflect our responsibility to give back to the planet. One percent of the proceeds are donated to benefit environmental organizations that we believe will plant the seeds for the future of action sports, humanity and our planet. Itâ€™s a good thing. At the end of the day, we have to give back to the earth. Everyone is starting to get in to it. Weâ€™re not getting any younger and the Earth isnâ€™t either. Weâ€™re pretty populated, so we have to give back to mother nature. We try to be eco-friendly. The main Soletech building in Cali has solar panels. Pierre invested as executive producer with Leonardo Di Caprio in the eco-documentary, The 11th Hour.
More Info: http://www.etnies.com