Eric Koston and the Fears of Selling Out

“The Michael Jordan of Skateboarding” recounts his long and illustrious career.

Eric Koston and the Fears of Selling Out
Business of HYPE
26,186 Hypes 30 Comments

Business of HYPE is a weekly series brought to you by HYPEBEAST Radio and hosted by jeffstaple. It’s a show about creatives, brand-builders and entrepreneurs, and the realities behind the dreams they’ve built. On this week’s episode, Jeff sits down with skateboarding great Eric Koston at a live recorded event at MAZE Fest.

Often described as “The Michael Jordan of Skateboarding,” Koston has had a long and illustrious career. Over the last three decades he’s won countless competitions and skated for brands like H-Street, éS, Girl, Lakai, Nike and Supreme, while also launching his own successful companies, including FourstarThe Berrics and Numbers Edition.

Despite all his success, Koston admits that just as he turned pro in the early ’90s, skateboarding was losing its cool factor and wasn’t nearly as lucrative as it once was, thus forcing him to reevaluate his career choice. “It was small. It was kind of going through an evolution of extremely technical skateboarding. It was slow. The board was just flipping and bouncing around on the ground and people couldn’t understand it. It didn’t look that good.”

As Koston continues to recount his early years in the game, when brand after brand wanted a piece of his legacy, the Californian talks about pairing with the right sponsor. “If a brand that you’re into wants to get behind you, maybe be patient for that. If you feel you’re going to take something purely for the money, and you don’t feel good about it, obviously there’s something wrong there. Your instinct will usually tell you if you’re being a sell out.”

Later on, the known sneakerhead reflects on creating his first signature shoe, the éS Koston 1, a model that helped bridge the world of streetwear, skate culture and hip-hop. He gives us insight on wanting ownership and stability, and explains his controversial move from éS to Lakai, and eventually to a major corporate entity like Nike SB.

Koston remains a legend, continually elevating the sport and surrounding culture. So tune in to hear why many call him the “Michael Jordan” of skateboarding.

As always, thank you for tuning into HYPEBEAST Radio and Business of HYPE. You can subscribe to our channel on AppleSpotifySoundcloudStitcherOvercastAnchor or wherever else you get your podcasts. Please don’t forget to leave a comment or review.

Additionally, feel free to hit Jeff on Twitter, @jeffstaple, or via email at, and he may answer your question on a future episode.

This episode features references to the following:

3:58 – Being the Michael Jordan of skateboarding
5:25 – Skateboarding at 11
7:20 – Eddie Elguera
7:35 – H-Street
11:20 – Reputation of skateboarding
13:50 – H-Street
14:09 – 101 Skateboards
14:35 – Process of getting sponsored
16:13 – Skill or style
19:24 – Being selective
21:13 – Fourstar
23:31 – Quicksilver
23:58 – Volcom
24:16 – Alphanumeric
24:21 – Zoo York
24:34 – ASR trade show
22:16 – éS Skateboarding
26:29 – Koston 1 shoe
26:00 – Motivation
27:49 – Leaving éS to Lakai
30:11 – Nike
32:31 – Nike SB
33:02 – Brian Anderson
33:45 – Mazefest
33:41 – Intersection of street and skate
34:34 – Triple 5 Soul
35:48 – Q&A with jeffstaple

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