For decades, skateboarders have been rebels and renegades using duct tape to keep shoes on our feet and wearing ragged t-shirts with a pair of jeans ripped to the skin from riding rough terrain. The closest we came to a shopping spree was going to the thrift store for the $5 special where you could cram as many ugly plaid shorts and vintage t-shirts as you could find into a brown paper grocery bag.
Our old Alva t-shirts and Dogtown hoodies are never quite retired. Instead, they are handed down from big brothers and sisters to little brothers and sisters like badges of honor to the next generation. Zorlac printed graphics on hand-me-down shirts from the second-hand shops, and those of us lucky enough to get one, still hold onto them like hidden treasures.
Being in the skate army is a dirty business. If you're doing it right, the filth and crud from the streets, pools and ramps is layers deep. Muck and slime from bucketing a pool is a source of pride and a job well done. Torn tees and permanent stains are just visual residuals of skateboarding stories to be shared for a lifetime, and fashion was the last thing on our minds.
Yet, as time rolls on, things change, we're being told, and the news of Supreme, which started out as a New York City skate shop, now being valued at one billion dollars, has almost everyone on the planet frothing to get a piece of the 'skate fashion' pie.
For additional proof, that the world has tilted a little further off its axis, yesterday's headlines blared, "Culture juggernaut Hypebeast takes a majority stake in The Berrics to make skating huge again (still)"...
Is skateboarding a fashion or does history in fact repeat itself? In order to try to find the answer, we decided to take a closer look at "skate fashion" at a VIP party for the launch of the Skateboard Museum Berlin's new book, "Skateboarding Is Not A Fashion" that took place on January 18th in downtown LA.
We rolled out to the party with Jeff Ho, not really knowing what to expect. Unfortunately, we still can't tell you much about the book because we have not seen it yet, but we can tell you this...
Jeff Ho, founder of Zephyr, one of the longest running surf/skate companies in the business, jokingly said, "We always wore blue Vans shoes, Levi's jeans and Zephyr t-shirts and that's what I still wear to this day."
As we tried to figure out some way to bring you coverage of this soiree, we decided the only question of the night had to be a parody of the red carpet fashion awards shows we have seen on TV: "Who are you wearing tonight?" Hence our video of the night's events.
When we arrived at the gallery, we saw Craig Stecyk looking as lost as we were, as his eyes glazed over seemingly unfocused at the sights unfolding. As we entered the bowels of the Avenue des Arts, we found a panel discussion underway featuring Christian Hosoi in a pink Fedora while Tony Alva made his fashion statement in a YSL pink blazer, as they offered opinions of the collision of skateboarding and fashion.
When we posed our "Who are you wearing tonight?" question to some of our favorite humans, Shepard Fairey proudly showed off his Obey jacket and jeans and Stooges t-shirt, and we were inspired by his good sense of humor. As Shepard says, "I got most of this free. It always looks better when it's free."
As we made our way through the gallery filled with monstrous photo reproductions of some of the legends of skateboarding flanked by eerie mannequins dressed in old skate gear, we were reassured to find surfer/skater/lifer, "Slappy" wearing a Marshall amps t-shirt straight from the U.K., and Skateboarding Hall of Famer, Laura Thornhill-Caswell holding court happily attired in Walmart garb.
We are stoked to report that not much has really changed in "skateboarding fashion" and most of the skateboarders in the room had on a variety of well-worn skate shoes, simple t-shirts and jeans with the random Suicidal Tendencies patch thrown in for good measure.
One of the highlights of the night was when we found Dave Hackett rocking a classic Led Zeppelin t-shirt and his traditional black leather jacket, while admitting that he may not be able to ollie two inches, but he can still slash your face off!
As we reflected on the evening, and discussed the fact that Gucci's parent company now owns Volcom, and private equity giant, The Carlyle Group, now owns Supreme, while Quiksilver a.k.a. Boardriders is buying Billabong after its disastrous run on the New York Stock Exchange, we have to wonder to when everyone will remember that history inevitably DOES repeat itself...
So hang onto your vintage t-shirts and ripped jeans. Now we have to go find some duct tape for our shoes. Skate tuff.