Michi Mackrodt looked for waves and ended up fishing clips in Portugal wearing his new shoes he made for himself and all of you. Give it a look and read his interview to find out how his new shoe company “Fishing Lines” finally came to fruition after almost two decades. Enjoy.
Video by Palermo
Photos by Dennis Scholz
Artwork by Michael “Mixen” Wiethaus
Hi Michi, how are you? Not even trying to do small talk, I know you took a really bad slam the other day.
Yes, my wheel got stuck on some dirt the other day. I fell really hard and landed on a metal ledge, hip first. A cut to the bone and a broken acetabulum (hip) was the result.
Do you know what the recovery looks like for this one?
One month on crutches and I’ll have to take care of the cut that got stitched. Cause it still can get infected so that could be bad. I’ve had one of those infections 3 years ago and I can tell you that it can get really bad! But let s hope for the best.
How has skateboarding and life changed for you over the last decade?
Not much, I still skate a lot, just that I travel less, first due to Corona but mainly because I have Kids and that I’ve spent all my money on this shoe project.
Yes, let’s talk about that! What made you take on this adventure?
I’ve had a project on my mind for many years but didn’t really have the guts to make it happen. In the end, it’s covid that made me go for it.
Almost 15 years ago, I ordered some sample shoes from my skate friend from Shanghai. It was the time when Element kicked us all from the shoe program at once with practically no announcement.
The first sample was okay but not yet what I was looking for as the factory had never done skate shoes before. I thought that it would be a long way to get something I really like.
So that was before you got on Nike SB?
Yes. In the meantime, Nike SB came around the corner and asked if I want to skate for them with an option to work for them in the long term. So I thought it would be safer that way and went for it, leaving my idea behind.
But that relationship came to an end?
About 3 years ago. I was skating in Panama and Costa Rica, as Corona broke out. It was instant panic over there and a big mission to get the family back home safely. When we finally arrived home 2 weeks later, (airports were closed already only the government flew people out), I got a phone call the first day back home with the announcement that both of my Nike contracts (rider and TM) would be canceled right away with no further option. So much to the safety! Haha.
Two little kids and no more job out of the blue!? Great…
I didn’t want to wear their shoes for free so I had to find another option.
I would have to try and make some shoes, just for myself.
So that’s when you gave this another shot?
The journey started with a little shoe manufacturer in Kosovo. My Skater friend Ilija (from error collective) from North Macedonia had a connection for me in Kosovo. We ordered outsoles in Italy and sent them to a young manufacturer that put everything together by hand.
The result was beautiful! Great materials. Nice finishing. Not yet skatable the way wanted it but surely we would have found a way to get the problems solved.
Unfortunately, his little atelier had to shut its doors because of the pandemic. They went out of business.
That’s too bad. Where did you go from there?
I tried Portugal. But too expensive and not what I needed. They would not even start such a mini-production.
Then in France, it didn’t work out.
Of course, I tried Germany and Italy as well, but that wasn’t possible either. Too expensive, no adaption possible, wouldn’t work with outsoles I wanted… and many more.
I gave up the idea of producing in Europe and hit up my friend in Tunisia. I thought it’d be nice to produce in Africa. But another long story short. Didn’t work out.
So I hit up my old friend from Shanghai who is now living in HK.
Sent him my designs, and explained my idea, problems and everything. A few weeks later he sent me pictures with samples that looked already very much like what had in mind. From that moment I knew that my journey might have to start in Asia.
And after a while of testing, adjusting, etc., I thought that maybe there was a way to get that 15-year-old idea back, not just 20 pairs for myself.
So we put our last money together and ordered a mini production.
Two different models, three colors.
What a journey!
How did you get the shoe design done and eventually a final product?
I knew exactly what I wanted.
The Shoes that I like to wear when I m in not skating, often have little “heels”. I wanted some pairs that look like classic shoes just with modifications to make them nicely skatable.
What was surprisingly easy and surprisingly hard about making shoes?
The hard thing was to find a factory that works with nice products and was yet willing to do small quantities. It would have been easy to pick another factory that already did skate shoes but it would have been a minimum of 5000 pairs to start.
The hardest part though was to find a proper outsole. One that I like from the look, and that works well, for me at least.
I wanted that “crepe” look but out of very grippy rubber. So that was what took a while. We had to make a few adjustments.
Another pain was, that I could not just go to the factory and explain what had to be changed because of the covid policy. So it took a lot of time to figure everything out. See what was good, what had to be improved, etc. Sending shoes to Europe first, skate them, feedback back to China. Haha, jeeees.
So much about what was hard, anything easy?
The only “easy” part was to know what I wanted and the colors I liked. As said: a shoe not looking like it but still skates well. And for me, the shoe works well.
It may be tempting to add a lot of details on shoes as you can design pretty much all you want but I like it simple and clean for the first models. I wear them every day, skate both models, play a lot of basketball in the hightops – all good for me.
For everyone who might not already get it, what’s the story behind the logo?
Sure, actually deciding what logo to put was quite easy, too.
I wanted to have it as personal as possible, as the first samples were meant to be only for myself not for selling.
So I just sent the logo, designed by Michael “MIXEN” Wiethaus from the SHRN homies to the factory.
It’s the logo that we put in our FISHING LINES and other videos with Guillaume Périmony. It looked much more DIY-ish than most other brands but I like the contrast to the shoe. Also, the name was, and still is, way too long. Not what people would pick as a brand name, haha. But I like it. Patrik Wallner and I came up with this Name while fishing the first lines Episode.
I think those few who know me or/and the fishing lines videos know that the shoes are made to “fish some lines” and not a fishing company.
So I left all potential brand names I had in mind since it was years on the side and just went for Fishing Lines
Yes, I am sure people will get it. Some fishing enthusiasts as customers won’t hurt either, haha!
Other than that this is mainly you and your friend?
Yes, my friend from Shanghai I met on my first skate trip in 2005. He now lives in HK. He is dealing with the factories in China. Without him, it’d be hard to get small quantities over there.
How did you fund all this?
We fund this ourselves. I have the main part as it’s based on my idea. But there is only personal money in it.
Are you planning on having a team? What’s your approach?
A team would be great but I didn’t want to talk anyone into this project yet. But of course, a little team would be a dream.
Where can people get the shoes?
The shoes will be available online at www.fishinglinesworldwide.com and also at SHRN skate shop in Munich as well as at SEARCH & DESTROY skate shop in Berlin for the beginning. But any shop is welcome to order some of course. The first models will be very limited though. Not because it’s meant to be something extra fancy like a limited edition, …
Simply because I didn’t have more budget to produce more shoes for now, haha.
Anyone else helping or are you doing everything? Any shout-out?
My friend Ansen in Asia takes care of that factory and does most things the way I want them to be, that the boxes arrive in Europe safely and also that the factory produces that small amount.
All the rest is on me.
I designed the website with some help from some friends here and there because I’m really bad at dealing with computers and all that is related to them. So thanks Murmel from radio skateboards, Paul Vela (my neighbor) and Paul (from Bordeaux) who looks at what I did wrong online again, why the website is blocked again, with website hosting questions, etc. Things that are easy for them, yet hard for me.
But the collages and the content is made by myself. Yes.
Kevin Metallier did the product pics for me, thanks for that.
And Palermo and Guillaume Périmony were kind enough to film clips with me skating the samples. So I can show that the shoes work fine.
Thanks a lot my friends
Also thanks to Justin Pettit (my other neighbor) and Dennis Scholz for some action shots. And you guys are helping me too with this interview etc. So thank you very much for that Pocket.
Of course, sure you got some good friends that will help!
What about shipping?
The shoes are stored in the Radio skateboards office but shipping and all the communication will be on me. Radio will help me a bit hopefully thanks for that already, haha!
I m really scared about that part. First, because I never did it before but mainly because I fractured my pelvis and can’t walk or carry any weight for the next 3 weeks. But in case someone orders a pair, I’ll do my best to have it sent quickly.
Nice! A long time coming!
It’s been months since I wanted to share this. But then November didn’t work because the clips weren’t ready yet and in December, I broke my ribs and my brother-in-law passed away out of the blue. So I felt really down. Not the mood to start selling.
Now, almost everything is ready but I got injured again. I guess the right time won’t ever be coming, so let’s just give it a go now!
Sorry to hear that! I guess you are right!
Let’s lean back and watch your video clip. Any words you want to share about it?
Last year I went to Portugal and visited my friend PALERMO to escape Berlin for a week. He’s a cameraman and we skate a lot together when he is in Berlin. So we decided that we would go surf mainly but also skate around a bit and eventually film one or two tricks in the sample shoes for some Insta or website content. Maybe an 8mm side shot here and there, too. Turned out that we found more spots than expected. After that intense week of driving up and down the coast looking for waves and stopping at skate spots now and then, he sent me a preview. We thought that it could make a nice little video where people can see what it looks like when I skate “my” shoes. So here you go.
It sure does! Thanks Michi, only the best for your new endeavor!