A year ago, Mike Mo Capaldi joined DC Shoes. To commemorate that anniversary, they're releasing the Mike Mo S, his first pro model for his new shoe sponsor.
The Mike Mo S is similar to other skate shoes in the sense that it has no sew construction, but lots of TPU reinforcement for durability. But that's where the similarities end. What you wouldn't believe is that every little detail on that shoe is inspired by ideas Capaldi borrowed from other kinds of athletic footwear.
Capaldi spoke with ESPN.com from his home in Simi Valley, Calif., and explained every design and performance aspect of the Mike Mo S, revealing that despite all the bells and whistles, he enjoys his shoe best only when they're super worn-down and floppy. This was cause for alarm, so I asked him if they were broken-in out of the box.
Without hesitating, he said, "For a normal person? Absolutely."
ESPN.com: What DC shoe were you skating before you had a pro model?
Mike Mo Capaldi: I was actually skating Mikey Taylor's shoe. Right when I got on was when his samples came out, so both of us were testing his shoe at the same time. His shoe has a clean toe area and it's nice-looking overall.
DC didn't really make any good-looking shoes with thin cup-soles before Mikey's shoe. The way Mikey is, he's so picky, so he makes sure the shoe is great before it comes out. He's the pickiest dude. He really nailed that one down and made sure they did a good job on that one.
How soon after you started riding for DC did you start working on your shoe?
Honestly we worked on it the day I signed my contract. We said, "Let's do this right now." We went straight to the drawing board and I told them what I wanted and how I wanted it done, and we obviously both gave our input, but we came out with something that we both really liked.
Did your shoe's design change a lot during the year you spent working on it?
When I went to meet up with the designers to tell them what I wanted, they were showing me the technology that DC can do and they showed me the shoes that they [currently] had. They had a running shoe with Unilite, which is a super-light material. If you pick up my shoe, you'll see it's one of the lightest skate shoes ever, and it's because I suggested they use that same technology from the running shoe, but in a skate shoe.
What's the deal with the mesh sleeve on the inside of the shoe?
They have this thing like [a] bootie, and it's like an inner sock-liner inside my shoe. What I told them was that I wanted a shoe that fits like a sock. I wanted it to grip your foot. That's why the ad for my shoe says, "Built from the inside out," because we really wanted to make sure that the fit was perfect.
Was it your idea for your shoe not to have any stitching on the outside?
Yes. I was specific about what I wanted. I didn't want any panels or anything. I like old shoes. I skate my shoes for a long time, so I don't want anything to rip on my shoe. That's why there are no stitches or anything on it. I just seriously like old shoes, so I don't want my shoe to rip. I want it to last as long as [it] can.
What's the deal with the mesh material on the tongue?
The mesh on the tongue is related to that running shoe I was talking about earlier. DC uses that mesh on the running shoes they have, and I love basketball so much, it kind of reminded me of a basketball shoe in a way.
Since there are no seams or stitches, and only some perforation holes on the other side for ventilation, we looked for a different way to make my shoe more breathable. That tongue, we figured, would be very breathable. That mesh, I love how it looks; it just reminds me of basketball. I'm a basketball fan, so I wanted to get that across somehow.
Talk about the material on the lacelets that also extends to the heel cup.
That's actually another bit of technology that I liked from the running shoe and had added to my shoe. I got to see it the first day I met up with the designers. We wanted something different because every shoe lately, they all look the same. Everything looks the same and it doesn't seem like anybody's trying anything new. So that's what we wanted to do with this shoe. We wanted to try to do something different that people haven't really been doing yet, and introduce that to the skate world.
What's it like jumping down stuff in a skate shoe based off a running shoe?
It's not bad at all, because Unilite is so cushy, but it's not like you're skating a pillow, though. When you jump down stuff, it's cushy, and when you're skating flat-ground stuff, it has a lot of feel to it. In the heel is where the cushion is a lot thicker -- more than in the toe area, because in the toes is where you need a lot of feel anyway. So when you jump down stuff it's completely fine.
What did you do to make the shoe more flexible?
If you look at the bottom of the shoe, there's a giant X on it, and we did that because we wanted it to be flexible. Without that X it doesn't bend as well as you'd want it to. We originally had a primo pad in the middle of the shoe, and you couldn't tell because it was built into the middle of the shoe, so if you got a primo you couldn't feel it. That actually took away from how flexible the toe was, so we took that out. I'm glad we took that thing out, because it was pretty stiff. I can't hang with that; I need a flexible shoe.
That's why I like old shoes. New shoes drive me insane; I have to walk in them for, like, a month straight, and then I'll skate it. I want that thing so floppy that you could put them in your pocket.
Who helped you make this possible?
I have to thank everybody at DC and the designers, Dylan Petrenka and Brent Allen. Everything I said when I first met up with them, they got it right on their first try. They're incredible at what they do and they're very smart. They make very good shoes. They're the ones who made it happen and I have to thank them for introducing me to all this new technology. We all figured it out together and those dudes are amazing.
We made a great shoe. I'm psyched the way it came out and I'm glad we made something different than what everyone was doing. I'm glad we brought a lot of new things into a skate shoe that people really haven't done yet.