We Interview Kelvin Hoefler - From Garage Ramps to Olympic Podiums

Talking tricks, shoe design, and shredding the globe
BTK  | 

Welcome to an exclusive chat with Kelvin Hoefler, the 30-year-old Brazilian skateboarder who won the silver medal in the  Olympic men's street skateboarding event at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. From skating on makeshift ramps in his garage to winning major titles like the X Games and World Championships, Kelvin's journey is one of dedication and passion. In this DOSE interview, Kelvin shares his favorite tricks, thoughts on the skate scene in Brazil, and a lot of insides behind his signature shoe, the Hoefler T20 Pro. 

How did you first get into skateboarding, and what drew you to the sport?

I was about 9 years old, my neighbors used to skateboard, so my Dad gave me his big old skateboard, and I started skateboarding.

What's your favorite skateboarding trick, and why?

I love a lot of different tricks. It’s hard to pick one, but I think I like doing kickflips.

Can you describe the skateboarding scene in your hometown or where you grew up?

I grew up in a small beach city in Brazil, and my neighborhood was not paved when I was little. So, my dad built me some boxes, and I skated in my garage—my entire house, practically.

I liked being in a not-too-safe area, and my dad was a cop, so I couldn’t go to a lot of places. However, my dad, on his days off, would take me around when I was younger.

My city never had a big skate scene because it was more of a soccer and surf city. The skate scene was more in São Paulo City, and when I was a teenager, I could take the bus and go there more often.

How do you approach learning new tricks or mastering new skills on your skateboard?

Oh, that’s a great question because my mind is always racing and trying to learn or re-learn new tricks in skateboarding. We have four stances in skateboarding, so the list is long for learning tricks. I think that’s why I’m still in love with it. We can learn tricks all the time; it takes a good amount of patience and determination.

What do you think is the most important aspect of skateboarding culture?

I think the most important aspect of skateboarding culture, for me at least, is that SKATEBOARDING IS FUN. Do you know why? Because I simply love it, and when you do work that you love, it’s beautiful. We go to a competition, and if our friends land a great trick, we will celebrate with them. It’s awesome!

How do you handle the pressure and expectations that come with being a professional skateboarder?

I just take it as my job to deliver what needs to be done. I usually don’t worry about expectations because that’s something I can’t control. However, I can control what needs to be done, and I try to do my best in those situations so that at least when I go to sleep at night, I’m happy.

What inspired you to create your own signature shoe, the Hoefler T20 Pro?

When I met co-founder Fernando 4 years ago, they had just started a skateboarding program, so we always talked about it and just waited for the perfect time. We worked a lot... Cariuma as a company, and I worked as a professional skater, and all the accomplishments we achieved together, now we celebrate the T20. I’m very grateful for this opportunity.

Can you tell us about the design process behind the Hoefler T20 Pro?

With Cariuma, there’s always a close connection to all who work there—especially the designers. We were able to have direct communication daily, and the design changed a few times from concept to the finished product. It was only because we were working one-on-one or in a small group at times.

We all had each other's phone numbers, communicating through messages on WhatsApp and emails from the first samples till the last ones. I was able to adjust various pieces that I had thought of to try out and see if they functioned. Then we adjusted from there.

It’s a relief that we've always had this relationship with Cariuma's co-founders, and it poured over into this shoe with our designers and product team.

What sets your signature shoe apart from other skate shoes on the market?

It’s the best in the market (lol).

Well, I wanted to create a good-looking shoe and, at the same time, something that could help skaters perform better. I mean the toe shape for flick, the rubber not too bulky, and smooth texture for consistent response on grip tape—lace loops to keep the laces and shoe as durable as possible from blowing out. And sturdy but lightweight with the suede and mesh combination.

How do you hope your signature shoe will impact the skateboarding community?

I hope it’s just the beginning for other skaters to be able to pave their own paths and grow with such a great company as Cariuma. They are a company that means good to the world.

What advice do you have for aspiring skateboarders who dream of having their own signature products one day?

Just keep skating and don’t worry about what people say; just do your job and do it to the finest.

How do you think signature shoes contribute to the culture and identity of skateboarders?

Signature shoes have always been a part of skateboarding, along with skateboarding graphics and other products. I think it’s great to keep it like that because it helps skateboarders to have long careers after so many years of hard work. I think it’s great that companies can reward the hard work of skateboarders with signature products.

What was the most challenging aspect of developing your signature shoe?

I think it was to create the toe cap for flicking.

Can you share any memorable moments or anecdotes from the process of creating the Hoefler T20 Pro?

I remember the first one I got to test out was great, but it had the shoelace cover, and I skated, and it was gone super fast, so we had to reinforce it because the main idea of the shoelace protector was to help keep the shoelaces from wrecking.

If your signature shoe could speak, what would it say?

Thank you!

If you had to describe the Hoefler T20 Pro using only emojis, which ones would you choose?


What's the craziest trick you've ever landed while wearing your signature shoes?

I think I would say the hardest was the fs board for my Thrasher AD. I flew in to shoot the ad for a week, and we went to the spot on a Friday afternoon. I tried for several attempts because the rail was long and huge.

So, for boardslides, it was super difficult because in the end, I was leaning to one side or the other, and there was a sidewalk right when the rail finished, so I thought I was going to land on it sideways, lol. I went home super sad because I really wanted to get it done, so I called Jameson (Cariuma’s skate team Manager) and told him I wanted to go back there. But I had a flight the next day, so I had to get it done super quickly before my flight.

We checked if it was a church day, and we had the green light to go on a Saturday the next day. I almost didn’t get out of bed that day because the day before I tried so hard, so my body was aching, but I wanted to go again. So, we went again, spending over 4 hours trying, and I almost missed my flight, but thankfully I landed, and it felt so good. Mission accomplished.

If you could skate with any historical figure, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Would be awesome to skate with Michael Jackson when he was a teenager. I think the Jackson 5’s were awesome!

What's your go-to trick when you're breaking in a new pair of shoes?

Probably kickflips.

If you could have any superpower while skating, what would it be and how would you use it?

To be invisible, hahaha, because I’m very shy, and I could skate everywhere and not get kicked out by the security guards or cops.

What's the weirdest place you've ever worn your signature shoes?

On a farm with a lot of horses, my shoes got all dirty and I went skating afterward.


Give Kelvin a follow on Instagram @kelvinhoefler


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