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The Soul of Soles

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Almost everytime I slip on Vans these days I get a strong sense of déjà vu. Deservedly so. I've been slipping on Vans for over twenty years now, and hundreds of those colorful canvas and rubber classics have announced my feet to the world in skateshoe couture fashion. As a native Angeleno, skateshoes are in many ways part of my identity. It's part of who I am. As the Skateboard Museum in Stuttgart attests, I am not the only one.

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Stuttgart is an ironic home for Europe's only skateboard museum. Car-obsessed Stuttgart is known as the “cradle of the automobile” and counts the Porsche and Mercedes-Benz museums among its many cultural attractions. The luxury and refined elegance of said automobiles starkly contrast with the inevitable sweat, dirt and blood familiar to all skaters. Yet, neighbors they are.

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In 2003 The Skateboard Museum started as a two-week temporary exhibition in a basement. When the exhibition closed, the museum's defiant founders founders, Juergen and Daniel, unwilling to simply pack up and leave, squatted, fought and negotiated their way into its present location. Continually growing, the museum also produces traveling exhibitions of its permanent collection to other European cities, such as Berlin and Barcelona, and, most recently, the 2007 Made for Skate exhibition in London.

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Dedicated to the past, present and future of skateboard shoes, Made for Skate ambitiously covers it all, from the first ever skate shoe, Randy's 720, to current Nike prototypes. Much of the motley collection of the worse-for-the-wear thrashed, ripped and stinky shoes is the result of donations from skateboard collectors worldwide. The museum wouldn't have any other way. Or, as one of the museum's founders proudly declared in a recent Sneaker Freaker magazine article, “There is no soul in a new shoe!”

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They mean it. Besides more traveling exhibitions, Juergen and Daniel are currently in production on a similarily-themed book with the same tireless bravado and kinetic energy that characterize so many in the skate industry. A lifestyle best embodied in their own words, “Enjoy life, ride a skateboard!” AER

Images courtesy of The Skateboard Museum and Made for Skate

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