Legendary Skateboarder Brian Anderson on New Nike SB ‘Polaroid’ Dunk

It’s a bright and cool Saturday afternoon on the Lower East Side. In the gap between the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge – aptly named Two Bridges – the Polaroid team gathered a group of young local artists and skateboarders for a photo shoot. Equipped with a Polaroid Now and two film packs, Brain Anderson leads the group on a tour of the neighborhood.

Starting at LES Skate Park, the proving ground for many young skaters, I have a few minutes to talk to him about Polaroid and the new Nike SB Dunk paying homage to the legendary photography brand. Anderson is a world famous skateboarder, a true OG known for being Thrasher’s Skateboarder of the Year and World Cup of Skateboarding winner in 1999. His understanding of community and inclusion brought a fresh perspective to the sport and the younger generation. We covered everything from the vintage movie to his sneaker spin. Read on for an edited and condensed version of our conversation.

Squire: Polaroid is a big deal, I always think of Polaroid when I was growing up. How was it for you?

Brian Anderson: Well, I’m the youngest of 14; some of my sisters had Polaroids, and I have fond memories of my sisters and brother taking pictures. It is obviously a very iconic brand and creation. You know, yesterday I was talking about, it’s just such a unique thing to walk around and you’re like, kind of a moving darkroom, you know? So it’s really cool that this presence is coming back and even if it has always been there.

Anderson’s “Polaroid” SB Dunks.

Michael Saintil

Squire: There’s this vintage film aesthetic that’s used a lot now on social media filters for a younger generation. And I think kids kind of find it as a refreshing creative outlet. Do you think that as a creative person, this is a good way for young people to tap into it?

BA: Yeah absolutely. And part of that is that the movie is completely different. A Polaroid is completely different from your phone. A phone is great because it allows this new generation of young people to get into photography. But film is cool because you want to be careful with your film, because you know it’s not cheap; it’s just a hit and that’s what’s so cool. You can hang on to it and watch and think about it, what was the light like when you took this picture and maybe you shouldn’t use the flash next time? Or, the one thing I always like to point out is that you can now scan your Polaroids, you can photocopy them and then you can make a zine with them, which I think is so refreshing. I think a lot of teenagers are moving away from social media. They find it a bit too intrusive and a bit creepy and creepy. So my point is, you do this thing, and it’s for you.

Oh, and look at this: I find that when I wear a Polaroid and ask someone if I can take their picture, they’re a lot less hesitant than if you ask them to take a picture with a cell phone because he doesn’t think you’ll use it immediately for social media and you tend to make people act a lot more naturally when it’s a camera and not a phone. So I think it’s really cool for the new generation of kids and young people. It’s a completely different medium and it makes you think there’s a chemical to develop it in the tape.

Brian Anderson
Brian Anderson.

Michael Saintil

Squire: That’s really a good point. As a member of Nike SB, have you ever seen this collaboration come to life at some point?

BA: Did I think this could happen? No. Because at the beginning, there were not many collaborations. I’ve been with Nike for 20 years and I think they even made some that came close to other brands without using them, like there was a “Heineken” Dunk in quotes. That they may have gotten the right to put that star there, but who knows. I think there was a Pabst Blue Ribbon Dunk but that was just the can colors, there was no insignia in the mix.

Then, over the years, more and more brands wanted to work together in general, not even just on a Dunk. More and more people started doing collabs, and I didn’t see it coming until I heard about it from my team manager, Ryan Bouvier from Portland. I’m not trying to be overly complimentary, but I think they did a pretty good job with the features of the sneakers. Especially down to the red button on the pivot point of the outsole.

I’m not trying to be overly complimentary, but I think they did a really good job.

Squire: You’re wearing the Polaroid SBs now, but what else is in your sneaker rotation?

BA: Well, I just found out that I’m actually 14 and a half. I’ve been stepping into a 13 all my life. My 14 and a half shouldn’t be sitting in a 13, but once I slip into a Stefan Janoski and the suede expands, it really fits, like the expression, like a glove. In my rotation there is also an SB shoe called the Verona, it is a slip-on shoe. I wore Grant Taylor’s SB; he skates in a Blazer Low. Tried it recently, and because my foot is used to the narrowness of the Verona and Janoski, the Blazer also widened for my big foot, and then felt too loose. They are awesome, I just wasn’t used to my foot having all that space. I love the Dunks, I rode them for many years before Stefan’s shoe came out.

I’m not trying to plug in my old shoes I made, but it was really fun to have the opportunity to do the BA project. I miss it because it had Lunarlon in the heel which was really great cushioning. We don’t need to go into the story behind it, but it was just too expensive and overseas it was expensive.

I don’t really wear a lot of non-skate shoes, but I love having a pair of Prestos. Mainly, because they can stretch. When I’m not skateboarding and I put them on my feet, they’re like, “Thanks, man.” It’s like a Tempur-Pedic mattress wrapped around your foot. I love the Presto’s, I have a real shitty pair that’s ripped so I can wear them in the rain and every time they’re just sacrificed on the street.

Squire: I like this. I’m also a big fan of the Off-White Presto.

BA: I love skating in my rarest sneakers. It’s just fun. Some I save to floss at a party once a year.

Squire: If you have the shoe, you should wear it, right?

BA: Yeah.

Squire: Among the new school skaters, who should be known to people who are probably less known?

BA: It’s hard for me. It’s really hard to stay current. I am fortunate to have interests in so many other genres of life. I try to learn a lot about art history, directors and writers and all these different things. And I’m constantly learning new things – about people’s pronouns and things in the queer world that I’m so happy to pay attention to and always do my best to make sure people are comfortable. Choose words that make people feel comfortable. I need to subscribe to a new subscription Mocker magazine.

Squire: It’s just. Your life is not limited to skating.

BA: A lot of my friends will send me links – “verified this new person” – and it’s so cool. I’m so glad there are so many more women and trans skaters in the scene. So, oh my god, I have so much homework to do but it’s great. You know, it’s alive and it’s thriving.

Squire: It seems like the goal is to be more inclusive, right?

BA: Yes!

Saintil: OK, last question: do you think we’ll see more iterations of the Polaroid x Nike SB?

BA: It’s possible, I mean, it seems that this one is very well received. You know, so who knows? Maybe they’ll do a high top or maybe they’ll do one with the lens and a button and it spits out film.

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