What are Soap Shoes? What happened to Soap Shoes? These are certain questions whose answer are been searched worldwide over the internet. If you are also one of them looking for answers then you have to read this post till the end.
In U.S Soapshoe was a blockbuster sports footwear industry during late ninety’s when 36-year-old Chris Morris a former rollerblade salesman created a new market for extreme grinding sport by introducing for the first time the grind plates shoe named ” SOAP” in 1997.
This unique design shoe had premium quality plastic grind plates on the bottom of the sole which made possible for the shoe wearer to slide smoothly on handrails, ledges, poles, steps, benches and curbs as these grind plates are slippery with no grip on metal. This entire stunts activities with soap shoe gave birth to grind sport.
Even though soap shoes primarily targeted teen customers who wanted extra excitement & stunts in their ordinary walk but its stylish & cool look attracted many ordinary consumers also.
The Soap Grind Shoe story starts in 1996 when Chris Morris was still a salesman with Rollerblade Inc. Mr.Morris friend once suggested the probability of having grind plates on a shoe, immediately Chris Morris worked on this idea and created a preliminary version of grind shoe.
Artemis Innovation Team who contributed to the success of ‘SOAP shoe’
In 1997 Chris Morris founded Artemis Innovation Inc a Torrance based company with the help of his team. His team included
- Mr.Gross, who was a former investment banker and served as vice president operations for company Vans Inc which is an American skateboarding shoe manufacturer
- Brent James the owner of Concept 21 (a footwear design company) who designed the sample for soap shoe
- Tom Peterson founder of Bravo Corp that makes wheels for in-line skates and skateboards, financially supported Chris Morris business movement
- Ben Kelly was Research & Development head and Soap Shoes’ wear-testing team of Artemis Innovation
How the title “SOAP” was given
The brand name “SOAP” was given when a shoe designer Jacob Atienza proposed the name during a brainstorming session. This name was considered to be a perfect as Jacob Atienza said “soap is a metaphor for things that sort of slip away”
Why SOAP grind shoe was a hit among young consumers.
Launching of Soap Shoe took the inline skating to a new level among the players. Artemis boosted their market for soap shoe through competitive marketing strategy by promoting live demonstrations of grind sports, supported fansites, the release of video games like Sonic Adventure 2 which advertise their soap shoes & grind sport.
Through local retailers, the company Artemis distributed around 1000 pairs of soap shoe to trendy youths in schools who created an atmosphere of excitement, fun & adventurous spirit among other teenagers, who ended up demanding for soap shoes from local retailers.
The Popularity of soap shoe grew tremendously when the company sponsored 17 years old Ryan Jaunzemis a former inline skater professional in 1997 along with pro skaters & Soapers Bryndon Smith, Danny Lynch, Paul Cerfuentes, and Eddie Ramirez.
Ryan Jaunzemis was spotted in national sales commercials of soap shoes, and Relate Video Productions ( Bryndon Smith Owner) famous full-length Soap videos. His videos were played all around the country & he became the guru of grind sport who wowed every teen. His cool personality & soap shoe together magnified the demand for soap shoe.
Artemis created a market for themselves in New York, Florida, Chicago, and Texas. They had 1000 retailers in the U.S who sold Soap shoe of nine styles and 22 colors.
Artemis recorded the highest selling niche segment in the $700-million skate shoe industry.
What Happened To Soap Shoes
Chris Morris made sales from his brand for four years until 2001 when he lost control on Soap License because of legal issue. When Chris Morris moved out, the company slowed down and management of Artemis innovation jointly decided to Sell the brand Soap to In-Stride ( Wrestling Gear Company) but in 2002 In-Stride Sold Soap to Heeling Sports limited after In-stride went bankrupt.
Heeling Sports limited paired their wheel shoes with grind plate & launched six new soap shoes in 2003 under Heelys brands but they failed as they got get negative remarks for launching so many new models at the same time & also because of limited stocks availability they couldn’t supply enough soap shoes to meet the demand of their retailers .
In 2006 HSL released a new Soap Shoe Express model which got popular slowly. Unfortunately recession affected Heelys stock and within five years Sequential Brand Group purchased the soap and remaining grind shoe patents from HSL with $63.2 million.
The Soap Shoe online website now doesn’t exist since January 2019.
Even though Soap Shoe vanished from the market but the sports grind never disappeared.Since the late 90’s many adults and the teenager have admired and loved this aggressive form of sport. Performing sliding stunts with grind shoe has got certain Wow factor which made it irreplaceable.
The sports grind will always have a special place in the hearts of Soapers. Online Soaper community continues to express their love for grind sport till date by releasing videos of sliding stunts performed by aggressive inline skater across the United States & other Countries. The younger community interest for this game be it as a profession or for casual fun, will always keep the demand for grinder shoes ongoing.
Another truth about this extreme street sport is as it been majorly done for fun rather than as serious sports they are slowly disappearing from the United States. However, if sport shoe manufacturers take the initiative to support grind sports by sponsoring the professionals and at the same time if they involve in for innovative ideas related to grinding shoe there are every possibility this sport will soon compete.