Kyle Walker just released his 2nd Vans signature model Kyle Pro 2. The day we caught up with him happened to be Kyle Walker Day, a day in Oklahoma to celebrate his achievement in skateboarding. Here he talks about the love for his hometown and the new shoe.
──KYLE WALKER (ENGLISH)
[ JAPANESE / ENGLISH ]
Photos courtesy of Vans
Special thanks_Vans Japan
VHSMAG (V)： Congratulations on your Vans signature collection. You've used rose, which is Oklahoma's state flower for the design of your apparel collection. What was it like growing up skating in Oklahoma?
Kyle Walker (K)： It was definitely hot. Summers out here, right now it's maybe mid 90s, low 90s, and it is 7pm. So it's a little toasty. You're used to hot weather, so everywhere else is kind of like paradise. But yeah, it's cool. It's mellow.
V: When did you start skating?
K： I started skating in the summer of third grade. I was eight and a half.
V: What was it like in Oklahoma when you started skating?
K： It's definitely not like California or Paris. The ground is super rough. Me and the homies just grew up, whoever had the car, we're all pitching in for gas money going around the city, trying to find stuff like every other skater in their town. So it's not as many spots, but there's a lot of little towns you could go and find some super unique spots that no one's ever skated. It's super mellow. Population is much lower than Southern California so it's a little different. It's a little low key.
V: What were some of the skate videos you got stoked on back when you started skating?
K： I watched In Bloom a lot or This is Skateboarding, Prevent This Tragedy, the Zero videos, Really Sorry. Let's see. All 411s. I would say In Bloom was probably the one I watched the most, or This is Skateboarding. Or DC video, for sure. Shout out Greg Hunt, can't go wrong with that one.
V: You go super big when you skate. Any inspiration from a particular skater for your skate style growing up?
K： The first one that came to mind was Leo. For sure, Leo. You got Reynolds. Shout out Reynolds. Just got on the team, let's go. That's pretty wild, right?
V: Yeah. The Half Cab and the backside flip, that was classic.
K： Yeah, right. Couldn't go wrong. But other than that, Cardiel.
V: So you live in Oklahoma now?
K： So I went to California when I was 16. So I've been out there for a minute and I'm 26 now, but I'm actually about to get a house in Oklahoma and just go back and forth more, because I'll come back and visit family and friends, holidays and throughout the year. But Oklahoma's definitely growing a lot. The skate scene is getting bigger, good people in the city holding it down. But yeah, they actually just added on to the downtown skate park. So it's a big park, but in the middle they had a bunch of grass, a little picnic table and they tore all that out and added a whole new section. So it's pretty cool. It was super cool to see a lot of new young kids out there skating, just shredding having a good time. After being gone for 10 years coming back and forth, it's definitely growing. It was pretty cool to see. It's dope.
V: Since you've used Oklahoma Rose for the design I'm sure your hometown has a special place in your heart.
K： Oklahoma's a smaller state but the people here are super genuine. I grew up in Tornado Alley, that's what they call it. A lot of tornadoes come through and it could tear down a neighborhood. So I feel like that let alone brings communities together. So it's not really a perfect place, but it teaches you not to complain. You make it work no matter what. Thankfully I have friends and family here. I couldn't really do anything without them.
V: You got on Vans in 2013. How did that come about?
K： It was the TransWorld Awards. I was on adidas flow for a minute and I was going on Volcom trips with Chima. He's helped me through a lot. He mentioned getting me on Vans a couple of times. And at the TransWorld Awards, he was just like, "Yo, you want me to go ask Jamie Hart and see what's up?" I'm way younger, I'm like, "Oh yeah, sure.I don't know how this is going to go, but yeah, let's go see what's up." Jamie told me that he'll send me some shoes the next day. I'm kind of starstruck, but wasn't really sure if he meant it or not. But he actually hit me up the next day and got some shoes out. And that's kind of when it went from there. So I was just a young cat and Chima blessed me. And shout out to Jamie for keeping it real. He sent me shoes the next day. I was stoked.
V: Did you start filming for Propeller right after you got on?
K： Yeah, kind of straight into it. I think probably total was maybe five years. I don't think it was any longer, but I came in four years into the video.
V: You had an amazing part in Propeller in 2015, got your first pro shoe, "No Other Way" part and then awarded SOTY the next year. You've achieved so much in a short amount of time. How did that work?
K： I don't know either. Definitely looking back, you're like, "Damn, that did kind of happen quick." Filming for Propeller was so fun. It was such a life changing experience, just getting to go on trips with people that are now homies. Getting to know the people you look up to and then everybody's down to earth. You don't really know how people are and then you go on a trip and it was pretty cool. Thankfully it worked out and it was super productive. I feel like when you're with the right people and you're just vibing, skating, having fun, not really taking it too crazy serious... I'm just thankful at the end of the day.
V: When you got the SOTY, were you actually aiming for it?
K： I don't know about everybody, but skating your whole life and then you keep trying to set goals with whatever you're doing at the time. That was a big goal. And we had a lot of footie and I think that "Surveillance" part dropped too, but I don't know, I was just like, "All right, let's be productive. Let's just run it up and see what happens." And thankfully it worked out. It didn't feel real when I saw Ernie pull up. That was definitely one of the memorable moments for sure.
V: From seeing all the footage you put out, it seems like you're constantly on the road.
K： Non-COVID times, yeah, definitely super busy. I feel like it's been nonstop for a long time, which is good. I like being productive. I don't really like just sitting around, I would rather be productive and use my time wisely. But since all this is going on, pandemic and stuff, it's definitely bittersweet. We're not on trips or nothing, but just skating on our own time. It's kind of nice to have a little downtime for sure.
V: Let's talk about your new shoe. You just got your second signature shoe.
K： If it didn't have the velcro strap, it almost looks like the first one. So I kind of want it to resemble the first shoe, but I love Slip-Ons. When I first got on, I was mostly skating in them. But if you're skating every day for a week they kind of get a little loose. And I just like the sleekness. So I just wanted a more durable Slip-On vibe and added the strap to fully lock it in. It's nice and sleek, and it's Wafflecup. You definitely have board feel and comfort in this, but it's a little thicker with the Pop Cush. I'm stoked, I hope y'all enjoy it and like it. It's like the first shoe, but Slip-On form, a little more elegant and comfy.
V: What about the apparel collection?
K： The first drop is just, there's some normal tees with the Vans logo and the rose. I feel like you need to have some nice, simple, basic stuff. I like some wild stuff, but simplicity is key and that's timeless. They're just nice, easy, classic pieces with some stitching of roses. I was like, "Eh, might be kind of cliche to run some roses." And I looked at the Oklahoma state flower and it was a rose. So I was like, all right, cool. There will be more coming for the second drop.
V: Cool. Is there a promo video coming for this?
K： Yeah, I have a commercial for it, and we were aiming to drop a video later on in the year. But I think we might push it to early next year because of the times. Thankfully we did a whole trip in Oklahoma earlier in the year and got our trip in Portugal before the whole pandemic. The commercial kind of shows an Oklahoma vibe. Even my stepdad's in it. I look at him as my real dad, and he grew up on a farm and we went out there because it's a bunch of childhood memories.
V: Looking forward to that. It feels like you've taken skating to a point where it's almost impossible to go bigger... Do you think there's still a room to evolve in that sense?
K： The knees definitely aren't 18 year old anymore, but I actually enjoy jumping down some fun shit. Now you can't do it all day for sure. That's why you just try to land 10 toes down, and try to make the first five. But I'm definitely switching it up a little bit. I think the next part is going to be a little more unique. Still some jumping and rails, but more manny pads, different types of stuff, get them lines in. I'll have some longer lines and the next part for sure.
V: Looking back on all the things you've achieved so far, what are you most stoked on at this point?
K： I guess it could go to SOTY. That still doesn't feel real. But the experience I've learned from traveling and skateboarding in general, what it showed me. So traveling with friends, filming for Propeller, a lot of memories I'll never forget, just all that. Super thankful, man.
V: The world's in a weird place right now, but what's next for you?
K： Since we can't really do much now, I want to do something for the community. I have a day in Oklahoma and it's actually tomorrow, but we're making tee shirts and hoodies and all the proceeds are going to go 100% back to specific places that need donations, cancer fund, BLM or whatever. So that's what is going on right now. It's definitely weird times but we got to find the light in every scenario, stay positive. Easier said than done, but we just got to be there for everybody around us.
Born in 1994, originally from Oklahoma. He's one of the heavy hitters in the game today, with 2016 SOTY under his belt. He just released his second signature model from Vans, Kyle Pro 2.