Skateboarding is the central theme in Jonah Hill’s writer-director debut, “Mid90s.” It’s how the protagonist, 13-year-old Stevie, connects with neighborhood kids. And Hill ensured the aesthetics and attitude of the era’s skate culture were portrayed authentically — including the sneakers the characters rocked.
With the buzzy film set to debut in theaters throughout the country tomorrow, footwear and advertising experts believe a movie such as “Mid90s,” so entrenched in a shoe-driven culture, could influence consumer behavior.
“There is precedent for films and TV shows impacting sneaker culture, of course. ‘Kill Bill’ made the yellow Onitsuka Tiger [Mexico 66] extremely popular again. And when Baz Luhrmann launched his ’70s hip-hop TV series ‘The Get Down,’ Puma ran retro-themed ads featuring the iconic sneakers that [the character] Shaolin Fantastic wears,” explained Ben Yabsley, senior creative at Anomaly, a New York-based marketing agency.
And Pierre-Andre Senizergues, founder and CEO of Sole Technology Inc., is confident that skate brands will benefit from the film’s release. (The company is the parent of renowned skateboarding label Etnies.)
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“Right now everyone is talking about the ‘90s in terms of trends,” Senizergues said. “A movie about the ‘90s that talks about skateboarding with people wearing the shoes from the time will have an impact [on sneaker sales].”
However, Matt Powell, senior sports industry advisor with The NPD Group Inc., believes Hill’s project could influence buying patterns, but not specifically toward skate shoes.
“I don’t see a benefit to skate culture, but this film should add fuel to the ’90s fashion trend,” Powell said. “[And I’m] not sure what brands are featured in the film, but those that are could benefit.”
And Yabsley is also weary that fashion, while heavily influenced by the era portrayed in the movie, has moved too far away from the time’s skate culture aesthetic to have a tangible influence today.
“The biggest challenge for ‘Mid90s’ to impact skate shoe culture is that skate fashion as a whole has moved on so much since the ’90s. It used to be all about baggy jeans and oversized shirts. Now everything is super fitted,” Yabsley said. “If it’s going to bring back the golden era of chunky ’90s skate shoes, it’s going to have to bring back the whole baggy aesthetic with it.”
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