July 1, 2017 at 2:47 pm #554
The Changing Face of Skateboarding Culture.
Growing up in the mid noughties in South East England, there were few things that ever surprised me. The daily rhythms of commuter belt did not stray too far from bland normality, which often came in the form of the predictable ‘flavour of the month’ trends followed by the local teens. However, one of the few curiosities that arose from the streets was the diversity in urban clique culture, most notably the defiantly outcast Skateboarding sub-culture.
This sub-culture stood firm against the Topman two for £12 Baseball T-shirts and chose wallet chains over Kanye glasses in the height of the hostile Primark takeover of the late noughties. The image of this sub-culture that is imprinted into the minds my counterparts is one coated in a checked black and white pattern and a small Vans logo. It held an endearing place in of my mind as I distinctly remember spending my salad days moulding myself around the skater/scene kid ideal that was forged by spending hours watching local pros in Fife Street Kingston pop kickflips. To me, it was the earliest embodiment of counter-culture, an immersive escape that wasn’t condoned authorities, which admittedly was my parents at the time.
Therefore, as pillar of British counter-culture, skateboarding seemed that it would be confined to early tony hawk games and Etnies. However, a seismic shift around the ‘turn of the decade’ sought to revamp not only the aesthetic but also the appeal of skating.
The successful revamp of skating culture was not a solitary phenomenon, it coincided with the rise of boutique skate clothing lines such as Supreme from the USA and the UK’s own Palace Skateboards. Although Supreme had maintained a strong cult following in the USA ever since the release of the notorious ‘Kids’ back in 1996, its popularity this side of the pond spawned much later. The rarity of these boutique clothing drops whipped up a frenzy amongst youths, who competed to own these items and therefore show that they had a unique look but also had money in their pockets. Although these clothing lines are intrinsically linked with skating, it did not mean that you were a skater if you wore their clothing. The best example of this was Thrasher magazine’s merch explosion, which their classic logo T-shirt go from a household name in the inner circle to Kylie Jenner’s cool alternative outfit of the week!
Although it has succumbed to a certain degree of vanity, Skateboarding in the UK has experienced a vital resuscitation in popularity due to the rise of these brands. They have allowed the skateboarding lifestyle to synchronise itself with the trends and fashions of the moment and thus become more appealing to the wider population. This is made clear when you see fewer and fewer kids on scooters and more skating, ‘donning’ Odd Future T-shirts at Skate parks around the country. This recent development has shown that although the look itself has changed, the appeal of skateboarding as a lifestyle has stayed consistent, as those who partake are still using it to display what kind of person they are and want to be.
Thank you for reading,
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