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Pontus Alv talks about the shoes that get you laid

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The idea for this interview with Pontus Alv was to keep it short and use it as an one-page-opener in the Last Resort AB article in our latest issue. As we finished our conversation at a kebab restaurant in Porto, he said "you'll have to trim this down!" and I got the point that keeping an interview with him short is almost impossible. But I should down an interview with someone, who has a lot to tell? Here you go!

Pontus Alv

Photo: Maurice Abath

Did you expect Last Resort to be where it is now when you started it?

I never do any kind of business plan or something like that. We started with three shoes and they did well. We had bonding issues with that first drop, but we got feedback and improved. We need to improve and learn drop by drop. Also, the fashion / skate industry is such a quickly changing industry. Maybe in some months no one will wear Big Boys anymore, maybe people are into Last Resort now and three months later another shoe brand pops up. I'm happy with where the brand is at the moment. I get a lot of great feedback from skaters and my friends. Furthermore, I’m a skater myself, lots of my friends are skaters. We all want a good shoe and the stoke and feed back has been overall amazing.

Do you think Last Resort could have happened five or six years ago?

No, it’s all about the timing. I mean, I did a lot of collaborations with corporate shoe brands. Some of my Polar riders are sponsored by them. They took over the market, the shops and became the main players of the industry. I felt that a change in a different direction was needed. I like to let shops decide what they want to buy. If they want to buy five pairs, they can do it. There is no pressure, no minimum. The shops should have more freedom, and they know their customers best. If they say, “We only sell black shoes.”, then they can only buy our black shoes if that is what their customers want. They don’t have to put a pink one in their store.

Don't buy a shoe that will stay in the shops for months.

Yes! I won’t say the power of the big players isn’t important for the shops, but they are also changing their business structures, slowly cutting down the skate shops and not doing as much in skateboarding as they used to do. There is a big gap to fill, and I think there is room for alternatives. There can be corporate and skater-owned things co-existing. In the end, the skaters will decide where the money goes. I think people wanted an alternative, because they got tired of the corporate domination.

"A lot of those guys didn’t even have a deal or just a small deal. Now, they have a better deal. The brand is slowly growing and of course I want the team riders to grow with it."

In an old interview, you were saying that you are happy that corporate brands pay their riders very well. Do you feel like you are slowly evolving into a brand that can offer big paychecks to riders as well?

I mean, the team grew quite good with all the riders like Jesse Alba, Nick Rios, Mango, Dane Brady & all the other guys. We have a solid team, but at their former shoe sponsors, they didn’t get the opportunity to be in the spotlight. Dane rode for his last sponsor for five, six or seven years, but it didn’t go anywhere. Same with Mango, he was flow and they didn’t know if they will do something with him or not. So, they didn’t have the opportunity to have ads, video parts or all that other stuff that is important for skaters. Not everyone fits into the mainstream marketing roster. As I said, there is room for an alternative.

Have you talked to the riders about starting with smaller paychecks since the brand is still small and increasing them as the brand gets bigger?

Yeah! I mean, a lot of those guys didn’t even have a deal or just a small deal. Now, they have a better deal. The brand is slowly growing and of course I want the team riders to grow with it. I still think we need another 12-18 months to be in a solid place. I also just hired Daniel Dent to take care of the Last Resort filming program. He is already connected to the guys on the team, films for Frog too, and it just felt natural to do that.

That leads me to another thing. Other shoe brands have a team with 50, 60 or even more riders all over the world. You are focusing on a small team that kind of knew each other already. Do you think that your team could grow to the size of a corporate brand’s team in the future?

There will be more guys on the team but things will happen step by step. I have strong belief into the connection between the guys. There should not be a fight if they get in the van and go on trips. They should say “This is my teammate, my friend” and have a great time together. That creates a nice vibe that you’ll see in videos, photos and sessions. That’s what we are all in love with, the good times with the good crew.

Pontus Alv 180 Nosegrind Luis Moreira

Pontus Alv – Fs 180 Nosegrind by Lúis Moreira

I saw that some of the American guys went on a Mexico trip. What are you working on?

Right now, we are filming for a small promo video. Something like the first Polar stuff, a six-to-eight-minute piece. Just to get a feeling of the team, the brand, and our spirit. Obviously, from the photography side it has been more about the style & a vibe rather than hard tricks. We are using very close up vibe fisheye photos with lots of details and energy. That is something I was missing in the shoe industry. Especially the big shoe brands were like, “We need an ad. This has to be something spectacular, something big!” That was the trend or the norm, but I want to bring something goofier and more playful into the shoe game. Something with spirit. People will buy the product if they love the spirit & the product is solid.

If people follow the brand or you on Instagram, they might have seen that you announced yourself as the new "am" of the team. You also told me that you had a serious injury that took you some time to recover from. Also, you moved from Malmö to Porto without knowing anyone from the scene there. What is your status quo as a skater? Will we see some am footage of Pontus Alv in the video?

I’d love to. Before the knee injury, I wasn’t really feeling the idea of skating anymore. I was burned out by skating and the skate industry. Then I blew up my ACL, and it took me so long to recover. As my house project, which has been a two-and-a-half-year fight to build it, comes to an end now, there will be more time, energy and space for skating. My mind is coming back. I feel like I found back to skating in Porto. I have my crew, the Batalha Boyz, the weather is good, so it’s just about hitting the streets.

Solo Skate Board Magazine Last Resort Team Footy Check

The Last Resort AB team checking clips – Photo: Kris Burkhardt

Do you feel like taken back in time to the early Malmö days? As I’m here in Porto now for some weeks, I saw it’s not the biggest scene, but a motivated one with good people, and you are really pushing it to make something happen, build a stronger scene.

Yeah, I spoke with a friend about that recently. I always say Porto is like Malmö twenty years ago. There is nothing here, very few spots, no DIY scene and I think I can contribute. With Malmö, I felt like there is nothing to do there anymore. The city is completed, it has a lot of spots, the school and many more stuff. And it’s great! Here in Porto, it’s nice to get things going. And who knows? Maybe in some years it’s a hotspot. Also, everything is quite cheap here. Life, food, everything. It’s a nice alternative to Barcelona or other European hotspots.

I’ve seen a lot of people wearing Last Resorts here, too. The guys are all hyped on the shoes, they say it’s just too less cushioning. What do you tell those people?

Of course, this shoe is not constructed to jump down big gaps. This shoe is designed for the people who like a lot of board feel. You will never please all skaters out there with one shoe. But we are working on cup soles and vulc shoes with other insoles, too. We just don’t want to have too many models in the end.

"Consumption is always bad, so we try to make everything as durable as we can with nice materials."

Also, if you have a look at the first three models, the VM001, 002 & 003, they all look quite similar. Did you think about other silhouettes? Bulkier shoes or slip-ons?

We won’t do slip-ons, I just hate the way they look. You have to do what you like. I mean, I would love to design vegan leather loafers. There is a new fabric made of mushrooms that are very interesting. Ideally, I would like every shoe to be vegan, but at the moment the vegan materials aren't very durable and people would have to consume more shoes, which is bad for the environment. It’s nice if it’s vegan, but at the moment you can’t replace every material that’s used in a skate shoe without losing durability. Consumption is always bad, so we try to make everything as durable as we can with nice materials. If there is a vegan suede that lasts as long as the one we are using now, one day, why shouldn’t we change that? But it’s not there yet. Back to the designs: I would love to design a classic running shoe.

Another part of the identity are your ads. You use slogans that could sound a bit selfish to some people.

They are. As I first started to work on paper, it was “The shoe for the people”. That’s my main thing. Not too fancy, not too expensive. Sometimes I’d just ask the team if they have a comment or a quote about the shoes, and they would say something like, “I just love this model.” Simple, but the truth, because my team actually likes the products. It comes from natural conversations, and maybe I would just take something from it that sounds cool and fits to the photo. Also, I’m into old sports brand ads. Back then, it was way more about the product, people said something about the product in the ads. I think it’s cool to just use a cocky comment like “These shoes are the best.” That’s what I think. Fuck you! Do you remember, “Soon all your friends will wear them”? You see? It happens!

I’ll give you the space for a new slogan to end the interview.

They get you laid.

You can find the full story featuring the Last Resort AB team in our latest issue. Order it here.

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