Product Spotlight - Lakai AW '21 Part 2: Cupsoles

by Dan Bunn

After discussing Lakai's latest vulcanised skate shoes the other day, we're now going to take a look at their newest cupsole skate shoes, as well as well as talking about what the term 'cupsole' actually means.

James Capps half-cab crooks into the rust, shot by Alex Papke - CSC, Cardiff Skateboard Club - UK Skate Store
Photo: James Capps half-cab crooks into the rust, shot by Alex Papke.

What Is A Cupsole Shoe?

The main difference between vulcanised and cupsole shoes is the sole itself, and how the shoe is put together. Whereas most vulcs feature a thin rubber outsole which is attached to the upper using foxing tape, cupsoles feature a solid piece of rubber as the sole, often with an outsole and midsole, which is then glued or stitched onto the upper. Cupsoles get their name from the way the rubber is shaped in order to 'cup' your foot when wearing, which helps offer more support when out skating. The one piece construction of the sole often means that extra features can be added, such as foam midsoles or other cutting-edge technology, to help add further support and impact protection.

What is a cupsole shoe? Cupsole vs vulcanised skate shoes - CSC, Cardiff Skateboard Club - UK Skate Store

Generally, cupsoles are seen as being better for absorbing impact at the expense of boardfeel, making them preferable for skating large gaps and drops as opposed to more technical skating. Despite this, they now make a wide variety of cupsole shoes specialising in several different types of skating, including thinner cupsoles which offer better boardfeel while still providing more support than traditional vulcs, such as the New Balance 288S, and most of Adidas' ADV line; as well as classic chunky cupsoles for maximum support and impact protection, like the New Balance 1010. Having just made the change over to thin cupsoles like the New Balance 288S myself, I can whole-heartedly say your feet will thank you for it. The easiest way to tell if a shoe is a cupsole is to look at the rubber itself: the foxing tape on most vulcs will usually make the rubber appear to be a straight line around the shoe, whereas with cupsoles, you can often see the rubber getting thicker or thinner at different parts of the shoe, particularly towards the heel and toe respectively.

Cross Section of the New Balance Tiago 1010 Cupsole Skate Shoe (picture from - CSC, Cardiff Skateboard Club - UK Skate Store

Photo: A cross-section of the New Balance Tiago 1010 showing off the tech hidden in the sole, photo from

 Lakai 'Fade' Skate Shoe

Landing firmly in the camp of the puffy OG cupsole, the 'Fade' was first introduced in 2000 and has made its triumphant return 21 years later. This cupsole skate shoe features a low-cut silhouette atop Lakai's signature XLK cupsole, which maximises flexibility and boardfeel while maintaining that signature impact protection and support you expect from a cupsole. The black upper combines the durability of suede with a breathable mesh, so your feet will stay feeling as fresh as they look, while the hidden lacing system gives the shoe a sleek look and helps protect your laces from ripping. This one's a must-have for any old school revivalist.

Lakai 'Fade' Skate Shoe (Black Suede) - CSC, Cardiff Skateboard Club - UK Skate Store

Lakai 'Brighton' Skate Shoe

On the other end of the spectrum, the Lakai 'Brighton' is a far more modern style of cupsole which favours boardfeel over cushioning. Featuring a classic one-piece suede toecap with breathable mesh sidewalls and tongue, this shoe is an ode to simplicity with its timeless white and gum colourway. The shoe features Lakai's lightweight XLK cupsole, a thinner relative of the one found on the 'Fade', which helps provide the shoe with additional boardfeel while still offering greater support and impact protection than a standard vulc - perfect for if you're a tech skater who's partial to the occassional huck, or if your feet just get sore after skating all day.

Lakai 'Brighton' Skate Shoe (White/Gum Suede) - CSC, Cardiff Skateboard Club - UK Skate Store

Lakai Telford Skate Shoe

The 'Telford' is another of Lakai's iconic Heritage models which has been reintroduced to the lineup for the modern generation. Featuring Lakai's signature XLK cupsole with an improved durable tread, these shoes are a nice middle ground between the chunky 'Fade' and the lightweight 'Brighton', offering a perfect balance between impact protection, boardfeel, and comfort straight out the box. The 'Telford' is available in a grey and white suede colourway, and features a high-top construction with padded ankle support to help provide extra protection for those pesky ankles, making them a perfect choice for anyone prone to rolled ankles. The shoe's appearance bears similarities to the iconic Nike Dunk, and seeing as they're now impossible to get hold off the 'Telford' seems like a pretty bangin' option. Plus it means you're supporting a skater-owned company rather than the corporate devils over at Nike which is always a plus.

Lakai 'Telford' High-Top Skate Shoe (Grey/White Suede) - CSC, Cardiff Skateboard Club - UK Skate Store

Lakai Evo 2.0 Shoe

Last but not least, the collection also features Lakai's dedicated after-skate chillers, the 'Evo 2.0'. These bad boys are built with one thing in mind, and that's comfort. With their running shoe silhouette and navy/cream synthetic suede and breathable mesh upper, the 'Evo 2.0' will keep your feet looking and feeling fresh. Meanwhile, the lightweight foam midsole offers supreme comfort and support to help your feet feel pampered after a heavy session. Go on, treat yourself.

Lakai 'Evo 2.0' After Skate Shoes (Navy/Cream Synthetic Suede) - CSC, Cardiff Skateboard Club - UK Skate Store

That's enough chit-chat though. Head to the shop to buy Lakai skate shoes at CSC, or head to the blog to check out Lakai's vulc offerings. Safe.

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