The Rise And Fall of Soap Shoes – Shoe Trends of the 90’s
- by Nick Demaria
- September 29, 2020
Shoe trends come and go, for better or for worse. And for some, those shoes that were the most nostalgic, most innovative, and just downright cool among kids fell to the wayside as soon as they came on the scene. In the late nineties, a company started making shoes with plastic “grind plates” on the bottom of the sole so you could slide, or “grind” down rails. Chris Morris of Artemis Innovations, Inc. first innovated them and registered with the brand name “Soap” in the year 1997. Soap shoes, also known as Soaps, were a fad that lasted almost 10 years between the late 1990’s and mid-2000s. In a time where bowl-cuts and bleached hair was a fashion trend, Soaps were shaped like chunky late 90’s skate shoes. However, they had the upper hand of an aggressive rollerblade style grind that appealed to skateboarders and Aggressive inline enthusiasts.Known well throughout the skater world, big names like Ryan Jaunzemis, professional Aggressive inline skater ( who was then sponsored by and becoming the ultimate face for Soap shoes) were living the skater dream while promoting Soap shoes and making a name for themselves among other more professional skaters. Soaps were at the crossroads of fun and fashion, gaining traction among many teens, influencers, and were the ultimate icon for grind sports, even being featured in the release of video games like Sonic Adventure 2.The story of Soaps takes a downward spiral as Morris fell to legal vulnerabilities and led Soap to bankruptcy in 2001. Soap’s lost leadership led to a loss of market share and selling the brand to In-Stride in 2002, a company that went bankrupt shortly after buying the brand. Also, Jaunzemis got into a tussle with management as he was frustrated from his uneven payment and his mini-stardom from Soaps disappeared quickly. Heeling Sports limited tried pairing their infamous wheel shoes with grind plates similar to Soaps but got negative feedback. If you’re lucky enough to stumble upon these now long lost and coveted pair of sneakers on eBay, you might be happily taken back to an era of plastic bottom shoes, sk8rs, and the feeling of being one of the popular kids in the 90s.
Soap Shoe FAQs
Currently no original Soap Shoes are being made. Heeling Sports Limited, the popular 90s brand that created shoes with wheels in the sole called Heelys, acquired Soap in 2002, which was then acquired by Sequential Brand Group who purchased the soap and remaining grind shoe patents.
Yes. Ryan Jaunzemis is an American YouTuber, musician, author, entrepreneur, Pickup artist, professional Aggressive inline skating Rollerblader and is Soap Shoes’ most famous ambassador.
While the Soap shoes website no longer exists, you might be lucky and find some original Soaps on used and resale sites.