Three years. It’s been how long since members of the froSkate community entered the Chicago skateboarding landscape with skatepark meetups for BIPOC women, queer, trans, and non-binary people to learn the sport from each other. Now the skate team has their own shoe dropping this weekend – their first collaboration – and it’s with Nike SB.
The project started about 18 months ago according to founder and CEO of froSkate, Karlie Thornton. Nike SB approached the collective to design a shoe that pays homage to those who haven’t always felt seen. Designed by Thornton and froSkate VP L Brew, the “All Love. No Hate” Dunk High will be available at local skate shops worldwide on Saturday and available for purchase on the SNKRS app on August 24th. .
St. Louis native Thornton wanted to learn to skate and got together with friends to bring the concept of froSkate to life in the spring of 2019. Since then, the group has been supporting beginner and intermediate skaters of various genders with free get-togethers at skateparks where camaraderie and representation are front and center.
The Skating Collective’s mission is to include and encourage. Skaters simply show up to a meet with or without a board and are welcomed into the fold. In its early days, the skating fraternity attracted dozens of skaters to each gathering. Since then it has grown in number and lineup – froSkate has merchandise in local stores, froSkate has shared its voice and solidarity at local protests, and froSkate organizes events like group trips, movie nights and Friendsgivings .
“One of the main reasons we wanted to support froSkate with this shoe is their unique mission,” Kelly Bird, Global Brand Manager, Nike SB, said in a statement. “Thornton and Brew are committed to increasing representation and providing resources to communities typically invisible in mainstream skateboarding media.”
“We are thrilled with Nike’s support and commitment to creating opportunities for ambitious black and brown youth with collaborations like this,” Brew said in a statement. “More companies should follow Nike’s lead. All industries should amplify the livelihoods of BIPOC, LGBTQIA+ and non-cis men.
We caught up with Thornton on the eve of the shoe drop to learn more about the growth of the Chicago team, which has garnered “a lot of attention and momentum so quickly.” Thornton was in the process of sending out invitations and collecting boxes of exclusive froSkate merchandise for skate shops in the United States and Canada to coincide with the weekend’s events. The interview has been condensed and edited.
Q: How did Nike SB contact froSkate?
A: In an email. We had no idea if it was real or not. We thought, “Is this spam?” (Laughs.) I had to check in with some friends. We set up a meeting with them and we got a call and it was a whole team of people. They all had Nike emails. I was like, “OK, are you serious? We? Have you found the right organization? But they wanted to work with us. At the time, we had no idea how big it was going to be. It wasn’t until months later that we realized this was a real, global affair.
Q: How did froSkate design the shoe?
A: It was definitely teamwork. It was so funny because when we started working on this shoe in late 2020, early 2021, we had no brand identity. We were still defining our logos; we had no colors, no font; everything was everywhere. Working on the shoe really challenged us to bring our brand identity together. Who is froSkate? What energy do we have? We were really able to work with the design team myself, and L. Brew, our illustrator Emma Orhun and OJ Hays. They were all able to help us. The whole team (Nike) helped us define what the story of our shoe would look like. We wanted to stay creative. We wanted it to remain gender neutral. And we also wanted to give it that kind of extra flair and flair that blacks and browns carry with them – which is incorporated into all of the panels of the shoes, including the repeating “all love, no hate” chant. The clasps are gold because we wanted to incorporate the beauty of gold jewelry on black and brown skin, no matter what you’re wearing. It took us over a year to get there. We are very proud of it.
Q: What lessons have you learned since starting froSkate?
A: I learned how to create better safe spaces for all kinds of people. This is definitely something you need to work on as a community builder. And make sure that you’re improving, that you’re able to look at yourself and see where you went wrong and that you can fix that, and just put your ego aside. Now it’s so much bigger than you. That’s something I’ve learned is how to really listen and prioritize self-care, trying to take better care of myself so that I can take better care of others too.
Q: Will froSkate be touring soon?
A: Yes, if we can get the money. Wants make a donation to sponsor our tour? It’s my dream to take us on an international tour next year: Japan, Ghana — to visit our friends at SurfGhana — or Toronto, Canada. We have friends all over the world. I would like to visit them.
Q: You have your own shoe. What else is on the horizon for froSkate?
A: We don’t really know. We focused so hard on getting it right. It’s pretty surreal because our first official collab is with the number 1 collab that people dream of. We’re really excited about the work we’re going to do to continue doing our programming, now that we have more eyes on us, to be able to expand it and make some of our wildest dreams come true. We are more excited about the future of froSkate and not having to rely on brand partnerships to make our voice heard. We want to be autonomous and to be able to be this microphone for ourselves. And for others too.
FroSkate will host a pop-up store and meetup on Saturday at Skateshop1820 N. Milwaukee Ave. FroSkate merchandise and raffle codes to purchase the shoe will be available from noon to 7 p.m. party from 9 p.m. to midnight at Reggie’s Chicago, 2105 S. State St.. More info at froSkate’s website, Facebook and Twitter.