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A Conversation with Hommy Diaz

In our latest A Conversation with… feature we catch up with Queens, New York native Hommy Diaz, best known as the Global Design Merchant & Marketing Director over at DC Shoes. Primarily handling the brand’s LIFE collection and newly developed NVRBRKN. line, Hommy speaks of the latest innovations coming from DC Shoes, while also touching base on a more personal note with some random insights into his busy life.

The evolution of DC Shoes from skate to lifestyle… has been a part of the DC DNA from the very beginning. Our two founders Damon Way and Ken Block helped shape the industry into what it is today. Damon injected the lifestyle aspect into the brand with art and music. Pioneering the DC ReMix Series® and the DC Artist Projects® in the late ‘90s through 2008. He spearheaded the first sneaker collaborations with Shepard Fairey, KAWS and Thomas Campbell between 2001 and 2003. Just a few among the many he worked with that are most relevant now. The Damon effect lives on today at Incase as well.

Ken pushed the envelope on the action sports side with skate, snowboarding and now the GYMKHANA® series. His influence and guidance has helped the action sports side of the brand to dominate the industry with the best athletes on the planet. Our athletes bring a rock star lifestyle to the equation from the records they break to the houses they live in and cars they drive. One of them spends his time in a “Fantasy Factory” that he built, need I say more!

Developing NVRBRKN.… was a natural progression for the DC brand to offer product conceptually to cater to the crossover between skate and fashion. Today pro skaters make more than enough money to live the lifestyle they desire. How they look and feel off the board is just as important. And from the opposite spectrum we have non-skaters who have adopted the ”dressed like a skater” look.

Driven by our core skate roots and the fashion that developed out of it we were inspired to introduce NVRBRBKN. (Never Broken) - a metaphor about overcoming adversity, mentally and physicality. Branded by a broken star logo which is symbolic of the 7-point star within the DC logo. Despite the fracture,  the star is still in its true formation. Skateboarders are a testament to this spirit, since they are known for their ability to adapt to obstacles on the street using an unorthodox approach (i.e. a handrail and ledge).

Their mentality is to get back on the board despite injuries and being overlooked. Skaters pave their own way in society with a mindset that allows them to succeed on and off the board. The footwear and apparel offering is designed for moments during post injury while off the board. Consisting in premium executions of comfortable clothing to wear during the day, at night for dinner or the gym while rehabbing. Some silhouettes are designed with a lightweight EVA bottom construction to help support common skate injuries like heel bruises. The brand mantra is “Never underestimate your opponent, never compromise, and never quit.”

The importance of instilling a web presence… is the first option on the list to get your story out. Unfortunately I don’t know many people who buy the newspaper every morning these days or are home to watch the 5 o’clock news, but do know that at least a third of the world’s population is checking their Facebook page right now.

Balancing fashion and technology… is a challenge because skaters prefer to ride vulcanized shoes because the old age construction gives them more control over the board. I believe fashion and affordability has played more of an influence behind the popular choice of footwear. Fashion has steered skaters away from cup sole constructed shoes that have added shock and impact absorbing technologies. As a result comfort is sacrificed for this vulcanized aesthetic. This gives NVRBRBKN. more reason to exist. Your feet will need something more forgiving after a long session down a ten-stair handrail in vulcanized shoes. In addition DC has been in the lab working intelligently with solutions to bring the fashionable aesthetics to the skate performance market without stripping out the ergonomic friendly technologies. For now all I can say is that the new Spring ‘12 Chris Cole shoe will wake up the competition.

Traveling is… a priority despite the fact that you can see what is going on anywhere in the world via the internet. The in-person interaction and cultural participation in an environment outside your own is a priceless experience. So get out there!

Finding inspiration… when you least expect it is the best inspiration. For me the magic happens when I’m away from the desk having a good time elsewhere. I find valuable inspiration while spending time with family. I am fortunate to have over 30 first cousins that keep me motivated to do my best while setting a good example for them to respect.

Working with world-class athletes… has been a bit of a surreal experience for me. I was born and raised in NYC while watching these legendary pros’ skate in videos for the past two decades. Now I get to work and hang out with them on a regular basis. It’s a humbling experience to learn more about them and the industry from their personal perspective.

My favorite moments at DC Shoes… come every 30 days upon receiving samples of the products we work on as a team in 2D form. Sometimes the factory executes our instructions spot on…. And then there are bad mistakes along with good ones that often inspire us to push the envelope even further.

The most difficult… challenge is pleasing everyone through the effort of developing one collection each season as a global offering. This is another reason why it’s important to travel and learn about different cultures across different countries, cities, etc… In the end it’s a priceless experience even with failures along the way.

The definition of success… is doing something I did yesterday, better today…. NVRBRBKN.

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