Articles / Emerica / Ripped Laces

Emerica Figueroa Review

(Featured: Ripped Laces, 25th February 2015.)

introducing-the-figueroa

First off… It’s “Fig-uh-row-uh” not “Fig-wear-uh”.

Rightly so, Emerica’s Sabbath loving handrail destroyer, Justin ‘Figgy’ Figueroa is the latest member of the Emerica family to receive a pro model shoe. In a similar way to Colin Provost with the Reynolds Cruiser and Leo Romero with the Laced, rather than start from scratch, Figgy has chosen to rework one of his favourite Emerica models into his signature shoe. In his own words:

“I like the basic less-is-more style. I’m not trying to change the game. I’m trying to go with what works. I feel like when I look down, certain shoes are better for certain tricks. In my shoe, the toe just makes you want to kickflip. I look down and it makes me hyped to skate in. I’m addicted!”

Whereas the old saying goes “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” – this is more like providing nice finish…

Emerica Figueroa Pro 

Out the box.

Sizing, Support & Comfort

I love slip on skate shoes. I’ll have sessions where I feel like I’m spending as much time tying bits of laces back together as I do skating at the rate I burn through them. With the Figgy you have the option to wear the shoe as a slip on or they can be laced up. Initially trying on the shoe without laces, I honestly thought that these are about as close as a skate shoe can possibly be to reaching the comfort level of your favourite pair of slippers…

                                         Figgy Tongue Detail Figgy Heel Detail

Signature Figgy detailing on the tongue & Emerica trademark debossed into the heel.

Obviously, the assumption coupled with this is that in turn, stability and support are sacrificed. However, this isn’t the case at all. The inner of the shoe features an ‘Internal Fit System’ and the Figgy is the first Emerica shoe to feature this technology. Leading inside from the one piece toe cap; the switch from suede to the soft yet elasticated material provides something to nestle your foot, keep the tongue centred while thanks to the thin nature of the shoe this doesn’t cause any overheating even because of this extra layer. All around, the shoe fits true to size. They’re tight fitting, though ‘snug’ sums up the feel far better once worn in. At a glance the inspiration from the Emerica classic ‘The Laced’ is obvious, as is the similarity to Leo Romero’s current pro model which was also heavily inspired by that shoe. However, a key difference aside from the inner technology between them is that Figgy’s shoe is an all around slimmer model with a narrow toe and is intended for the multifunctional balance between slip on and laced shoe. Whereas the Leo is more forgiving for a wider foot, whilst also providing a narrow toe – marginally more so than the Figueroa.

Figgy 1 Figgy 2 Figgy 3

Deconstruction of the Figgy and a better look at the ‘internal fit system’.

Boardfeel & Grip

‘Start skating cup soles.’ definitely wasn’t a New Year’s Resolution of mine but it feels like it has been so far. As stated in the previous review, I’ve skated nothing but vulcanised shoes consistently for a very long time. The majority of cup soles I’ve owned being worn around the same time I was learning to Ollie…

At first glance, you probably get the ‘cup sole with vulc boardfeel’ vibe from Figgy’s shoe. While not a completely accurate description, it does seem like Emerica’s intention. However, largely in part to Figgy himself being a stair and handrail jumper, a bit more was needed in this instance of cup/vulc crossover that developing a slimmed down cupsole for the sake of boardfeel. Figgy’s intention of a shoe you can put on and just go kickflip has definitely come to fruition. While flexible enough straight out the box to not take more than literally a few minutes to be popping fliptricks (even in vulcs I’d normally give it half an hour, minimum…) the sole does feel thick and protective rather than just a thin cupsole to get the afformentioned vulcanised boardfeel. The closest likeness to this feeling is that of a brand new vulc shoe with a couple of extra millimetres between the board and insole.

Thankfully though, this does not sacrifice a great amount of boardfeel, the shoe just feels sturdy enough that if you were to spend an hour jumping down a reasonable sized gap you could happily go back to sessioning your favourite ledge without your feet feeling defeated. Moving on from the outsole, the insole is simply amazing; never have I skated an insole that was so noticeably comfortable and spongy. A main reason for not losing boardfeel despite the slightly thick outsole is because the insole is built directly from it and if therefore difficult to remove from the shoe – not that you’d want to. While I’d normally become accustomed to however an insole feels after a few sessions and basically stop noticing it; the spongy and almost bouncy nature of the shoe’s insole allows for your feet to comfortably sink probably a millimetre lower whilst wearing them and this comfort aspect never goes amiss. Though this my sound minute, the effect it has on both boardfeel and comfort is incredible.

                              Ten hours in.Sole 20 hours

The Figueroa outsole showing no difference in wear at the ten (left) and twenty (right) hour marks.

While not rock solid, the sole’s grip is still fairly hard yet not to the point where your feet will just slide off. When first walking in the shoes – though on my local TF’s almost marble like floor should probably be mentioned here – I was slightly worried the soles would slip even on griptape. Mistaken I was, as contrasting with the tradition boardfeel via soft rubber wearing in to provide excellent grip – the hard sole of the Figgy allows for you to position your feet with ease and without causing any excessive abrasion and friction between sole and grip, therefor not wearing it down as much.

To summarise, the Figgy has a thick and sturdy outsole which coupled an amazingly cushioning inner sole which allows for great comfort and boardfeel. The grip takes a little getting used to but though thick, is still a pleasant feeling that would even appeal to the most die hard of vulcanised sole fans.

Durability & FlickToe area after five hours of skating.

While the thin cupsole has been making it’s way onto skate shop shelves, the majority have taken influence from their vulcanised brethren with the addition of ‘fake’ toe bumper to add to both the authenticity and durability. The Figgy does not have said ‘bumper’ and it’s simply because it doesn’t need it. Though, visually the area that would be the ‘toe bumper’ of the shoe is marked accordingly, it is a little odd to get used. However I believe this is more down to being used to visually seeing where you’re tricks create grooves in your outsole at a fast rate and as these grooves/hotspots wear in your fliptricks feel like a more natural extension as they’re literally been closer to your toes.

10 hours toe

If I’ve rambled too much here think of doing a crooked grind on new trucks as opposed to a pair that have a crook-groove almost down to the axle – which locks in better?

Regardless of this, the part of the sole that makes contact with your grip is never slippery but responsive and provides a smooth motion. Though ‘glide’ probably isn’t something you want to hear in regards to a shoe’s grip, you’ll be able to smoothly flick and flip your board with ease and control. Grooves will develop where you do Ollies and kickflips but at a far slower rate than you are probably accustomed to (if you’ve been skating vulcs). However, due to the ease of manoeuvrability for flick with the Figgy’s toe, this absence just proves how long lasting the rubber is.

Toe 20 hoursThe classic use of a one piece toe cap prevents any stitching blow outs and as the side panel bulges out very slightly when your foot is in place (thanks the the inner sockliner) any damage that would affect the stiching where the side panel/toe meet is reffered to the side panel. Finally, the suede Emerica are using on this shoe seriously knows how to take a beating. It feels more rigid than all of the other shoes I’ve skated, ever, and that isn’t an exaggeration. It manages to perform so well without causing any flexibility issues and as it roughs up, feels more like it has been fighting against your griptape rather than just wearing down.

The Figueroa’s toe provided excellent flick throughout the whole review process. From top to bottom; 5, 10 & 20 hours.

Final Thoughts

At £55 you certainly cant argue with the price of this shoe. With some of Emerica’s catalogue dropping as low as £45  for durable, suede skate shoes; they are breaking the connotations linked to the phrase ‘price point’ and upping their game with out upping their price tag. Their proclamation of ‘Higher Quality’ definitely isn’t bullshit either. Emerica aren’t pushing ‘premium’ product for an excessive price. They’re delivering on their promises and releasing something to suit any skateboarder that will perform and last without leaving a hole in your wallet or your sock.

The only downside I found to this shoe was that in the middle of breaking them in the shoe loosened up just enough that the smoother lycra liner of the Internal Fit System would create a lack of friction and the shoe to start slip off when pushing – though this occurred only in sessions that ensued between the 5-10 hour marks. Strangely, the heel lock of my front foot was perfect and I’m guessing this is down the shape of my right heel very slightly differing from my left due to an injury and the initially tight fit forcing my foot out the shoe as I pushed. However, as a few more hours went past the shoe became accustomed to the shape of my foot and lacing them up a little tighter rather than skating them as slip ons negated this issue. Though friends of mine that own this shoe haven’t encountered this issue, I think it can mainly be attributed to my heel injury at the time. The stitching where liner meets the shoes heel could also rub slightly but again this was only an issue I found with my pushing foot.

Shoe overview at five, ten and twenty hours of skating.10 hours20 hours

Shoe overview at five, ten and twenty hours of skating.

It’s obvious to think that the Figgy may cause some overheating due its dual layer construction however thanks to a few strategically placed air holes as far from any grip contact points as possible and it’s thin nature, this also doesn’t become a problem. I found it pretty rad they managed kept my feet toasty when skating around the local outdoor and street spots as light faded on a freezing cold February evening.

Also, though a ‘thin’ shoe in nature, the support of the Figueroa matches that of its bulky Emerica predecessors of days gone by. Basically, the Figgy is a tech yet simple and stylish shoe with its slim profile distracting away from the supportive technology inside the shoe. If you want a shoe that you can definitely justify the price of, with quality and construction that’d be worth paying an extra £10 for, be thankful there are brands like Emerica that ignore this and just provide what is needed right now. High quality footwear, by skateboarders, for skateboarders. Stay Gold motherfuckers.

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