Sydney-born skater Chima Ferguson likes his shoes “sleek and stylish,” so when he started creating his signature Chima Estate Pro for Vans he took inspiration from some of the classics.
The new Chima shoe takes the look of the Vans Authentic—the only shoe Ferguson wore before he started designing his own line—and put a personal twist on the two-piece aesthetic. Ferguson uses a suede back sewn over the top of a canvas upper to pay homage to the Authentic, while allowing for Ferguson to upgrade materials and add personal touches.
First, though, materials.
“For a lot of skaters, canvas is normally a no-go from a buyer’s perspective,” Ferguson tells SI.com. “It is rare to see a core line skate shoe made in canvas as it tears in only a couple of hours or sometimes minutes.” For the Chima Estate Pro, the Vans Duracap—a rubber-infused canvas for strength—layer adds protection for his canvas, reinforcing the material enough that Ferguson felt comfortable highlighting it on his signature shoe.
Inside, he knew he wanted a liner to limit heel bruising—a problem Ferguson used to deal with constantly—so choosing a special sole for the new shoe gave him the ability to design sleek and stylish, but with technology that could handle the streets.
“With my area of skating, it involves a lot of impact as I skate a lot of gaps and stairs,” Ferguson says. “I wanted a simple shoe that looked great, but also one that could take a beating whenever needed.”
With the technology sorted out, Ferguson says he was most involved in the detailing and overall style. “Of course I needed it to be a skate shoe that would protect my feet and take impact, but I didn't want the shoe looking too technical or bulky.”
Ferguson’s line debuted in four colors—simply what he liked the look of on others or what he thought would look sharp, he says. He kept the side stripe off his line and instead put a focus on the leather tongue piece, the part he “loved most about the shoe and is what sets it apart from others” in the Vans line.
“I’m from Sydney, Australia, so to be able to have my home city embossed into the leather right by my name is truly amazing,” he says. “Though it is a skate shoe, it also gives a dress aspect of some kind.”
An old-school attempt at style and functionality.
Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, sneakers and training for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.