In the skateboarding industry over the past few decades many companies have come and gone and the skateboarding brand graveyard is a pretty packed place with a large number of failed brands and relaunches. If you were asked to name some iconic skateboarding brands which have been successfully relaunched or rebooted, you may struggle to answer the question. One exception may be Plan B. Founded in 1991 by Mike Ternasky, the company seemed to fade into the darkness after his tragic passing in 1994, only for the brand to be resurrected in 2005 by Danny Way and Colin MacKay.
Recently we have seen vintage skate brands such as Droors Clothing, Ghetto Child and Satori Wheels be rebooted and just last month Chad Muska has been involved in trying to bring Shorty's Skateboards back to life. Muska has even voiced on social media how quickly the reissue of his iconic pro boards sold out, showing there is still huge interest for some of the popular and nostalgic brands from the golden era of skateboarding.
The skateboard shoe industry may be the largest casualty for failed skateboarding brands with companies such as Airwalk, Kastel, Adio, Vita, Duffs, i-Path, Savier and more recently Supra all being discontinued and falling by the wayside. Some of these brands have never attempted to relaunch and simply disappeared down the skateboarding brand black hole never to return. However, one skate shoe brand that seems to keep coming back to life in some form is Axion Footwear and just this week the brand has relaunched for a second time.
The Kareem Campbell founded company via Dwindle Distribution from back in the 90's was popular for its chunky and puffy skate shoes and included models such as the KCK (Kareem Campbell Kicks), Nutek, Sport, Aries, Elite, Islander, Legacy, Official, Victory, Triad and Supreme.
Axion was also complimented by a talented skate team made up of skateboarding legends such as Gino Iannucci, Guy Mariano and of course Kareem himself, with each having their own pro signature shoe.
After the original trademark for Axion Footwear expired it was reported that The Fsd91 (Four Star Distribution) umbrella which included Circa purchased the trademark and brand name with Kareem Campbell unaware of the situation. In 2007 they attempted to relaunch Axion only for it to fail miserably. They even attempted to assemble a team and despite the promotion of the brand with pros such as Manny Santiago, Kevin Taylor, Javier Nunez and Rodrigo Lima the relaunch was a failure. There were also some alleged ongoing legal matters at the time pursued by Kareem as he had suggested on social media that the new Axion were in violation of copyright infringement. Eventually the brand was discontinued in 2013 with Four Star Distribution tasked with having to chose only one shoe brand to remain trading (that being Circa), with Axion ultimately meeting its demise. Skateboarder Donovan Strain was one of few people to comment stating, “Bummed about the news of @axionbrand closing up due to 4star distribution on its way out and having to pick between Circa and Axion." A press release followed stating:
AXION, designers and distributors of premium action sports footwear and apparel today announced it is seeking a licensee.
Tired of sameness? In the skate footwear industry, AXION was re-launched in 2007 and it quickly gained attention with its mission to offer the market something different. The brand blends classic AXION styling with today’s technology making for lightweight, highly functional, performance driven footwear. In addition to its unique designs, the loyalty and devotion to the AXION brand amongst its fans, riders and staff is unparalleled.
AXION will continue to work closely with its retailers and distributors during this transition and would like to thank everyone for their continued support.
Axion have teased the latest relaunch on social media since mid September with the official site launch set for 1st November 2020. A lot of questions were asked regarding the relaunch. Who is behind the latest Axion Footwear Relaunch? Is Kareem Campbell involved this time? And will Axion be releasing some of their iconic original shoe models?
The people behind the relaunch appear to be Steve Harden (Global Brand President at Axion Footwear) and Eric Stalker (CEO). Steve himself is often active on Instagram, replying to people's comments and questions under the username 'axion_steve.' We are unsure of Eric's background or whether he is simply a skateboarding sneaker aficionado hoping to revive the brand. The company appear to be privately held and based in Ventura with the company size ranging between 1 -10 employees.
Skateboarders will be glad to know that Kareem is involved this time in some capacity and just after the launch Kareem posted a photo (taken by Atiba Jefferson) of himself, wearing a City Stars branded face mask and holding a pair of the Axion Genesis which was initially Guy Mariano's pro shoe from the 90's. The brand announced that in the new ‘Legacy Collection’ there would be a total of 1998 pairs of The Genesis shoe available and offered early access to the shop on relaunch day if you signed up to their newsletter via the website. The launch seen just two shoe models available (The Genesis and a slim/slip on shoe called The Apex) but apparel such as t-shirts and hoodies are also available in the collection. Axion also confirmed more colorways of The Genesis will be available in the coming months but have not yet intimated whether they will also be releasing some of the other original models from the 90’s.
It is comforting for old school skate fans of the brand to know that Kareem is involved this time and Kareem took to social media to post a photo of himself with Atiba stating "The only way to do it, is to do it with your TEAM and FAMILY. Thank you my brother."
Other pros such as Josh Kalis, Stevie Williams, Chad Muska and Chris Cole have chipped in with some comments of support for the relaunch of Axion.
When we reached out to Axion to ask if they could confirm anything regarding the new team they said they could not comment and simply stated it is currently a work in progress. On social media just this month Axion posted photos taken by Seu Trinh of skaters Cyril Jackson and Jamie Tancowny sporting Axion footwear so at first thought they could potentially already be two confirmed members. There are also rumours that the team may include Sierra Fellers and Nick Merlino however nothing as yet has been confirmed.
Kareem's exact involvement with the brand and whether he has any say in the team selection remains to be seen however people did notice a potential mistake or leak on their website on the day of the launch. On the Axion website they accidentally left a page for the official team which did not seem to be finished. In what is either an innocent error giving away team details or someone who does not know their skateboarders from Adam, they have detailed Boo Johnson's name above a photo which you will notice is current Flip Skateboards rider David Gonzales.
Whether Axion are here to stay this time remains to be seen however the overall response has been positive. They are fast acquiring followers on their Instagram account and the release of The Genesis shoe are almost sold out according to recent posts. It is difficult to predict if the new look Axion can be a success. The skateboarding shoe market is a tough nut to crack especially now that Nike SB and Adidas have become major players in the industry with enormous wealth at their disposal. Even skateboarding legend Keith Hufnagel (R.I.P) a few years ago made the decision to cease making HUF shoes as he claimed the market was very difficult to penetrate and was not worth absorbing large production costs in the process. With the recent release of Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1 + 2, the timing of the relaunch means Axion potentially missed a huge opportunity to promote the shoe brand with Kareem featuring as one of the long serving characters of the game. Many would argue that if a brand has to be relaunched for a second or third time, it may be better off left defunct but nostalgia runs deep in skateboarding, and it sells. The simple fact that Kareem is involved this time may ensure the brand rekindles some of the magic. Welcome back Axion!
UPDATE - EDIT - 30 October 2020
On 30th October 2020 Axion Footwear announced the following press release;
The long-anticipated return of Axion Footwear is real. After months of incubation, procuring the right team, and researching the archives, creating, and cultivating for the future; owners Eric Stalker and Partner/President Steve Harden are ready to announce to the world that Axion is back. The brand teamed with OG skater and original founder of Axion Footwear, Kareem Campbell, as Partner/Creative Director, Dustin Deardorf, Footwear Design, Jeff Pool, VP of Sales and several other key players with decades of experience in the skateboarding world, with brands including adidas, DC, Sole Technology, Supra, Oakley, VF and others. Steve Harden, former President of Supra & KR3W stated, “we are ecstatic to have such a world class team surrounding us as we (re)launch Axion. The initial response from retailers, international distributors and most importantly, consumers, has been remarkable, exceeding even our wildest imaginations.”
UPDATE - EDIT - 09 November 2020
In the most recent episode of The Ghetto Bird Podcast Rob Cahill and Kareem Campbell discuss the recent relaunch of Axion, Nick Tucker's addition to the team and their plans for the future.