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In Conversation with Sage Elsesser

There is nothing like kicking off a new year than a road trip with all of your friends. When we called Sage Elsesser for this interview, he was preparing to embark on a two-week Fucking Awesome trip through the American Southwest, hitting the cities of Phoenix, Tucson, and El Paso along the way. Approaching 2023 with excitement, he is grateful for the strides he made in his musical career last year as well as the personal growth achieved through learning more about himself and his emotions.

Elsesser’s most recent accomplishment, however, is the release of his signature colourway of Converse’s Fastbreak Pro. Having represented the brand for ten years, he has had the opportunity to experiment with every Converse silhouette and has adopted the Fastbreak as his go-to. Taking inspiration from some of basketball’s greatest players, he assessed a court staple and tailored it for skateboarding with his personal touch. 

During our conversation, he was eager to share stories about how he joined the Converse team, the unwavering influence of Dylan Rieder, and his familial connection to the UK.

Converse Sage Elsesser Fastbreak Pro Mid Shoes at

Flatspot: You’ve been skating for Converse for a decade–is the shoe a celebration of that?

Sage: I didn’t think that's what it was celebrating, but now that I look at it that way, that’s pretty tight.

Flatspot: I remember you always skated Chuck Taylor All Stars, even before you joined the skateboarding team. What is it about the Chucks that you gravitated towards?

Sage: I mean, to be honest, it was probably seeing Logan [Lara] and Ben Kadow skate in them. There is tons of historical context as to why I love the Chuck Taylor, but what made me want to skate them was definitely Logan and Ben.

Flatspot: It’s amazing that you found a shoe from a brand you liked and then became sponsored by them. How did that come about?

Sage: The first time Bill [Strobeck] came out to LA, we–[Sage, Sean Pablo Murphy, Aiden Mackey, Na-Kel Smith]–had just started skating for Supreme. We would go skate Gardner and Bill would invite a bunch of legends. The first time I went I was wearing some Chucks, and Scott Johnston and [Eric] Koston were there. That was the same day that I impossibled over a table; I wanted to do it just because Dylan [Rieder] had done it. I definitely would not have tried it if he was there, like trying to impress him. That would have been way too much pressure.

During the session, Scott asked, “Who do you get shoes from?” I told him no one was because I was buying Chucks at the time. He asked me if I wanted to get Lakais. I was such a jit–I knew how to communicate, but I was also really high. You know how when you are like 14 or 15 and you are high, you are just full space cadet? I just looked at him and said, “Ah, thanks, but I kind of like skating these.” He just nodded, and was like, “Okay cool.” At the end of the session he came up to me and said, “Here, take Andy Henry’s number; he’s going to send you Converse.” I thought, What? Really? Wow! I’ve always been grateful to Scott for that.

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Flatspot: That is so epic; over the course of a session you got sponsored by your dream shoe company.

Sage: Right? I remember Andy later saying, “If Scott calls me and says, ‘Hey, you need to give this kid shoes,’ I just know that I gotta do it.”

Flatspot: Despite being a big fan of Chucks, you have skated the Fastbreak for many years. Why the switch? What is it that you like about them? Did it have to do with the model being a mid-top cupsole?

Sage: To be honest, I never really liked cupsoles until I wore the Fastbreak. What really happened was that there was a weird, in-between time when I was skating Chuck Low-Tops, because I only used to skate the High-Tops. I’m a big heelflip guy. Not like “big” as in–[pause]–you get what I mean…

Flatspot: You can pop them pretty big! The one at Flushings in Supreme’s Play Dead was huge. So did heelflips play a role in you skating that silhouette?

Sage: Yeah, for sure. I don't know what happened, but there was a moment when I transitioned to Chuck Low-Tops, and I could still heelflip. Then one day I started doing them and my ankle kept getting scratched. I kept heelflipping off of my ankle. I thought, I guess I’m going back to the Chuck High-Tops. Then I kept rubbing my ankle on heelflips, and I would get a hole in the shoe.

I don’t remember the first time I tried the Fastbreaks, but I do remember that the nylon felt like I was wearing a Chuck. However, the collar around the heel was in the perfect spot where it was protecting my ankle. I was also alternating with the Court Classic; it had a star on the heel. I skated those forever, until they kind of stopped producing them. And I started wearing the Fastbreak, and now it's the only shoe I can skate.

I think there is something linear between the Chuck and the Fastbreak and the Pro Leather because they are all basketball shoes. Larry Bird used to wear the Pro Leather, Dr. J wore the Pro Leather. There was something really cool about the basketball history of it, because I’m a big basketball fan. 

Link to image of MJ Fastbreaks

Knowing that Michael Jordan wore the Fastbreak during the 1984 Olympics was part of the inspiration for this new colourway. They auctioned off the pair that he wore, which are pretty much the same colors. Because of the aging of the shoe, the nylon turned kind of yellowish-creme. I wanted to do something based on that. I like that all of the original Converse models–the Chuck, the Weapon, the Fastbreak, the Pro Leather–are all connected to some of the greats.

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Flatspot: In terms of the colourway, it matches your stage name, Navy Blue. Was there any significance to that?

Sage: It’s also just my favorite color. I also wanted to keep it linear. I’ve done three colorways for three different shoes. The first ones were black, the second one was the Court Classic where I did a white leather and navy blue suede. I don’t wear black, so I wanted to make my version of an all-black shoe, but all-navy leather instead. 

My favorite element of the Fastbreak colourway is that I got to pick the leather. The original leather on the Fastbreak is just a little stiff, so I wanted to use the leather that I have used for every other shoe I have done, the softer leather. 

Flatspot: Is the embroidery of the rose an ode to Dylan? 

Sage: I put a rose on the tongue of the first colorway that I did, and I wanted to keep it uniform. I want the story to be, when you have them next to each other, that they will have that rose motif. The beautiful thing about that is that I had already used the rose motif and when that became the symbol for him it gives it even more purpose and meaning.

Flatspot: How did he influence you, if you feel comfortable sharing?

Sage: He is one of my top favorite skaters, ever. I feel very privileged and grateful to have watched him skate. That really inspired the way that I wanted to skate. There are definitely a bunch of people that can do a bunch of stuff, but what I loved most about Dylan is that he would do things in a way that you would have never seen before.

Converse Sage Elsesser Fastbreak Pro Mid Shoes at

Flatspot: You were able to be in his circle–that must have been pretty crazy as a young kid.

Sage: I was super lucky. I feel like Bill played a big role in that because he could see my eyes widen when I would see Dylan. There was something really special about him just because he also had other interests. He cared about what he wore, yet he didn’t care about how that was perceived. He was incredibly handsome, and that didn’t change who he was. It wasn’t like, Oh, he’s just pretty so that’s why he’s getting away with it. No. Regardless of how he looked he was still just so incredible.

There was something that happened to me when Bill would invite me out to skate with him and Dylan. Any time he was around I would skate harder, and Bill could see that. Whenever they would go on their table missions I would tag along and just watch. I just saw how he could just go for hours. I think that just sitting and watching somebody who had that kind of attention to detail and perseverance [had an impact].

I remember another time we went to Gardner for him to try a line, and he landed it first or second try. I almost want to say it was first try. It was on two tables and it ended with a switch kickflip switch manual. Bill was like, “Dude! What the fuck!” Then they filmed it for another 30 minutes until he got another, but the first one was just insane. I think that is one of the most amazing qualities of anybody, when they are like, No. I know how this looks and feels in my head, so I want to do it like that. 

He had that really magical element to his skating. I don't think it will ever be duplicated. That’s been the most inspiring to me; I strive to do something quite simple but make it feel special. I think that came from Dylan. He’s definitely easily one of my biggest inspirations even beyond skating.

Flatspot: As we’re winding down, I have a couple more questions…

Sage: Dude, oh my god! Arsenal is playing right now. I’m about to put this on.

Flatspot: That’s your team! Do you want to take a break?

Sage: Nah, you’re good! They are playing Newcastle; who are third on the table. I think they are right behind Manchester City, and Newcastle have only lost one match. This is an important, important game for Arsenal. I’m watching, and listening!

Flatspot: Speaking of the topic of football, can you expand a bit on your heritage?

Sage: So my mom is African-American and my dad is Chilean-Swiss. He was born in Chile but he moved to England in the late ‘70s because there was a coup that happened in Chile, so they fled. Being that my grandfather was a Swiss citizen along with his children, they moved to England. I think they were in Ealing first, but my dad grew up in West London–Ladbroke Grove.

I love London, it’s one of the closest things to home.

Flatspot: Who are some of your favorite British skaters?

Sage: Kyle Wilson. He’s incredible. Lucien [Clarke]. I used to love watching him skate as a kid. I remember skating at the Lennox ledges in Uptown and a friend said, “Have you ever heard of Lucien Clarke? You should check him out because you look like him.” This was when I was a little kid and used to wear Snapbacks.

Flatspot: In Lucien’s This Time Tomorrow section he basically had a different Snapback in every clip.

Sage: Exactly, my friend was referring to that part. Who else? Mike Arnold and Casper [Brooker], I’ve been on trips with them and those guys rule. Korahn [Gayle]. Kyron [Davis]–he’s my twin [laughs].

Flatspot: Thanks for taking the time, Sage. In closing, what else have you got planned for 2023? Any final thoughts or thanks?

Sage: Thanks to you! I’m just gonna be working on music, and continue skating a lot more. Hopefully you’ll get a part from me soon!

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