Interview: Brandon Brubaker, Supra Footwear Designer
With the upcoming release of the Supra Skytop IV, we wanted to learn more about what goes into making a sneaker unique compared to all the rest. We got to chance to pick the brain of Supra's Brandon Brubaker to learn more about the process and the brand's identity. Check out what he had to say.
Tell us about your role at SUPRA.
I am the Senior VP of Design and Merchandising, so I manage everything from design direction to building product assortments that are relevant to the SUPRA consumer. I make sure that we, as a team, are designing and developing shoes that push the boundaries. I like to keep people excited about what SUPRA will drop next.
What makes SUPRA such a unique footwear brand?
SUPRA is the first brand rooted heavily into skateboard culture to bridge the gap between skate lifestyle and fashion. It is the go-to footwear brand of a diverse array of some of the most influential people in the game. SUPRA has the unique ability to speak to the consumer, no matter what their cultural background happens to be.
Can you give us a quick rundown of what goes into designing/making a SUPRA sneaker? What do you look for? What inspires you?
I start with the basics. I look at our collection and identify key styles that are missing from the line. Then I brief the design team on our needs and they are off to the races. I am fortunate to manage a team of hyper-talented designers who are constantly ideating and sketching. So when it comes to picking new designs, we always have a myriad of exciting options to choose from.
I look for originality through design. We pride ourselves on innovation and ingenuity. As a young brand, we don’t have the luxury of falling back on a vast archive of older styles and re-releasing them to create hype. Sure, we already have a few silhouettes that we can call classics, but we are always looking for what’s next.
I am inspired by my daughters, Sidney and Donavyn. I am also inspired by the talented people I surround myself with. Oh yeah, I’m inspired by my love for sneakers and chipmunks, and other small, furry, woodland creatures.
What makes the Skytop such a popular silhouette/model? How did this affect your approach when designing the Skytop IV?
The Skytop is a shoe that my brother, Josh Brubaker, and Chad Muska created at a time when the market was focused mostly on mid and low tops. People thought they were nuts. But now, the Skytop I is a staple in our line and has consistently been a top seller since its release in 2007. The Skytop I is the true embodiment of SUPRA’s design philosophy—it’s a sneaker coveted by the fashion community, but you can also skate in it. The blend of form and function is what made it an instant classic.
The Skytop IV carries the same forward design in a skate-able shoe. When the Skytop was first incepted, Josh and Chad were doing what they wanted to do: following their instinct instead of following current market trend. As they kept developing new iterations of the Skytop, they maintained that same renegade spirit. When they designed the Skytop IV, they wanted to blend all of the unique lines and values they created in the previous three Skytop models, and approached the challenge with the following mentality: to create something that was polarizing. A sneaker that evoked real emotion, something that would create a buzz, good or bad, that is worthy of the Skytop franchise.
If you could design a shoe for anyone in the world, who would it be and what would it feature?
I would like to design a Swiss Army shoe for McGuyver. Of course, it would have a magnifying glass tongue and an explosive heel, but it would also be comfortable, giving him the type of ankle support needed to get out of the diverse assortment of jams he seems to always get caught up in.